By: Dezaray Barr
Heather Richardville graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in December of 2010 with a degree in Exercise Science while also completing her prerequisites for physical therapy school.
“I really enjoyed my years at IWU, especially living on campus and the extracurricular activities that I was able to participate in,” Richardville said. “I was blessed to be able to walk on the women’s basketball team and win a National Championship my freshman year. Working so hard, traveling and spending countless hours with those ladies was a great way to initiate myself into the college atmosphere and prioritize my time well. I decided to stop playing basketball after that year, but I quickly became involved in intramural sports, working at the Rec Center and working at McConn Coffee, which were also invaluable to my college experience. I was also able to work with the Rec Center director and teach the first group exercise class, TurboKick, at the Rec Center my senior year. I have heard from some newer alumni that group exercise classes still take place, and it makes me proud that I was able to be apart of that.”
Richardville knew she wanted to attend a Christian University, but IWU was always her first choice. Her brother, friends and future sister-in-law all attended IWU. “I saw it as an opportunity to be near people that were important to me,” she shared. “I decided to turn down sports scholarships to other nearby Christian schools in order to walk on to the IWU basketball team, because attending IWU was that important to me.”
After graduating from IWU, Richardville worked as a Wellness Coach for Parkview Hospital. After a year there, she attended Indiana School of Health and Rehabilitation for physical therapy. She graduated from there in 2014 and is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy at a privately owned outpatient physical therapy clinic, Steppin’ Up, in Fort Wayne, IN.
“I currently work with a lot of former IWU graduates, and there is definitely a bond that develops when you know someone graduated from Indiana Wesleyan,” Richardville said. “I had great mentors, professors and administration in the Exercise Science department that helped to spur me towards PT school and not stopping with my bachelors degree. I still remember my final meeting with my guidance counselor in the Exercise Science Department when I was debating whether or not to continue to PT school. My guidance counselor told me that I had something special and that it would be a waste to not pursue every ounce of education, without reservation, and to have faith that I would succeed. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about that conversation and how that spurred me on during the tough days of graduate school.”
Despite living off-campus her senior year, Richardville continued to attend chapel. “I really enjoyed and valued the ability to attend worship sessions and grow spiritually with my peers. Christ has always been important to me, but during college there are so many things vying for your attention. Being at IWU, attending chapel and surrounding myself with like-minded peers really helped me to stay focused on Christ during my formative years,” she said.
Two weeks before graduating from the Indiana School of Health and Rehabilitation for physical therapy with her doctorate, Richardville gave birth to her first daughter, Nora. “I was able to finish my degree, work and be a part-time stay at home mom, which is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We now have two daughters and a third one due in a few weeks. I am so grateful for a career that gives me ample flexibility with my schedule so that I can be a mom and a physical therapist.”
If Richardville could share anything with IWU students, she would say, “Take full advantage of every opportunity on campus, even if it packs your schedule! Live will always be busy, so being able to manage lots of classes, getting good grades and also participating in extracurricular activities will only make you a better person and employee, able to manage your time and priorities better. Make strong relationships and keep Christ as your first priority always, because after college you are suddenly propelled into family, the workforce, etc., and who you become in college is likely a large part of who you will be for the rest of your life!”
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.