Physical Therapy Service & Leadership

Nursing Home Blood Pressure Test


Rockhurst offers a wide array of service options both in and out of the classroom, allowing students to tailor their service to their unique interests. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Service is volunteerism outside of the classroom that benefits the greater community.

We are proud that our DPT students actively engage in volunteer service locally, regionally, and internationally, engaging in dozens to hundreds of hours of volunteer activity during the 3-year program. Students maintain an ongoing record of these service experiences that contribute to their transformation into health care service providers and enhances their success in the job market.

Service Learning

Service learning experiences combine learning goals with community service and are embedded across the DPT curriculum. Students serve older adults, children, and/or developmentally disabled individuals in the community by helping with Special Olympics, Parent’s Night Out, assisting with activities in retirement communities, among other services. They also perform developmental screenings of children, assess adults for age-related fitness and wellness, and screen older adults for fall risk. 

Community-Based Service

Here is a short sample of where you might find our students serving the community.

International Service Trips
Physical therapy students may have opportunities to travel internationally to serve populations in need. Selected students have an annual trip to Ecuador and serve with occupational therapy students and faculty at the Damien House. Over the last 10 years, students and faculty have had the opportunity to travel to many destinations, including: Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador and Haiti. The cost is often discounted for students and supplemented by Rockhurst University.

Individual Service
Previous students and classes have participated in events such as helping building a playground for underserved children; participating in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) events for children; interviewing prospective students; participating in a wide-variety of fund-raising activities; helping to develop a balance and mobility screening clinic for people with Parkinson’s disease; and cooking for and serving meals to homeless individuals.

Students may participate in the university service projects organized by the Center for Service Learning.  In addition, students may design and develop their own service learning projects related to their particular areas of interest.


In line with the vision of the University and core values of the College of Health and Human Services, facilitating leadership development is foundational in the Department in Physical Therapy Education. Our program offers multiple opportunities for leadership experiences, reflection, and growth.

Faculty support and nurture students’ professional growth and development to assist them in becoming leaders. Students are encouraged to attend professional events, such as the Midwest Student Conclave, the American Physical Therapy Association National Student Conclave, and meetings and conferences.

All students complete a series of four unique courses called “Professional & Leadership Development” that build essential skills for physical therapy.  In these courses, students engage in leadership roles through community outreach and relationship-building with professionals and community leaders.  Student reflections on their leadership skills include the following:

“The DPT program at Rockhurst University cultivates lifelong leadership through continued opportunities within and also outside of the program. The leadership example from the faculty and the continued guidance within the courses challenges students to think about how leading can affect positive change in our world and our profession.” - Chaeli Greco, Class of 2016

Our program offers diverse opportunities for students to develop leadership capabilities. Students may serve in roles, such as: 

  • Class officers
  • Student administrators of the Pro-Bono Clinic
  • Organizers of service projects
  • Work-study roles as teaching assistants, research assistants, administrative assistants and supplemental instruction leaders
  • Liaisons to campus advisory boards
  • Liaisons to department committees
  • Missouri and Kansas Physical Therapy Association student special interest groups


Exceptional student leaders are recognized by the following awards:

Lampe-Loescher Award
The Lampe-Loescher Award was created by Gerry Lampe, PT and Lou Loescher, PT. Jerry and Lou were members of the original advisory group who worked with Rockhurst University in the establishment of the physical therapy education program. The award is given annually to a graduating student who exemplifies exceptional leadership and service while in the physical therapy program and the potential for exceptional leadership and service to the profession.

List of Awardees

Student Recipients

2018 Kristine Ingraham
2017 Breena Berkland
2016 Malinda Childers
2015 Samantha Cooper
2014 Ruthanne McCreary
2013 Kevin Kelley
2012 Samantha Schnabel
2011 Christopher Robl
2010 Justin Trent
2009 Brandi Dorton
2008 Travis Nichols
2007 Michelle Gartner
2006 Stephanie Russell
2005 Nick Weber
2004 Todd Cartwright
2003 Mary Laura Hall
2002 Malissa Ross
2001 Nichole Krueger
2001 Laurie Kertz
2000 Lisa Williams
2000 Angela Heaton
1999 Melanie Allen
1998 Jim Peaker
1997 Megan Hubin
1996 Charlene Mies
1995 Kim Hale
1993 Erin Theroff
1992 Kathy Gleeson
1991 Joe Smith
1990 Jeffrey Wissel
1989 Dee Birk
1988 Teresa May
1987 Dawn Teter
1986 Cathy Markley
1985 Betsy Cronan


Donna J. Calvert Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Communication
Donna J. Calvert, PT, PhD was one of the co-founders of the Physical Therapy Education Department at Rockhurst University.  She began her employment at Rockhurst University in May of 1983 and was the first Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education in addition to her faculty responsibilities.  Dr. Calvert was instrumental in identifying the need for a specific program intended to enhance the formation of students’ professional characteristics. Subsequently, she designed and implemented a multimodal program of professional development for all physical therapy students at Rockhurst. Dr. Calvert resigned from the faculty in May of 2003 as a tenured, Full Professor. Her contributions to this aspect of student development have prepared our graduates to meet the challenges of professionalism and communication in clinical practice. The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who exhibits superior professional behaviors and communication skills during his/her time in the Physical Therapy Education Program.

List of Awardees

Student Recipients

2018 Brennan Lashbrook
2017 Matthew St. John
2016 Caroline Ludwig
2015 Kimberly Peters
2014 John Kyle Veazy
2013 Justin Snead
2012 Tyler Newton
2011 Kristin Allen
2010 Katie Greubel
2009 Chris Maguire
2008 Jamie Madeo
2007 Ashlie Black
2006 Jennifer Boulton
2005 Jamie Sailor
2004 Sara Bandy
2003 Kristin McArdle


Ellen Spake Award for Outstanding Leadership
Ellen Spake, PT, PhD was one of the co-founders of the Physical Therapy Education Department in 1983.  For 20 years, from 1983 until 2003, she served as the Director of the Physical Therapy Education Program. Her vision and leadership skills led the department in the curricular evolution from a bachelor’s degree, through a masters’ program and into the present Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who exhibits superior leadership skills during his/her time in the Physical Therapy Education Program.

List of Awardees

Student Recipients                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

2018 Eric Brocksmith

2017 Kayla Keckeisen
2016 Lisa Anderberg
2015 Abigail Blair
2014 Gracia Matlack
2013 Leslie Taylor
2012 Megan Overall
2011 Katharine Sobbe
2010 Adrienne Klein
2009 Kenneth Krings
2008 Vanessa Beachner
2007 Meaghan Moore
2006 Cathy Cao
2005 Dan Parker & Eddie Delaney
2004 Angela Eyberg