NWACC employee provides physical therapy scholarship

BENTONVILLE— Chris Nichols, a NorthWest Arkansas Community College student from Springdale, recently received a scholarship named in honor of another physical therapist who made a significant difference.

Sarah Beth Phillips, an academic advisor at NWACC, credits a physical therapist with changing her life. Phillips was diagnosed at 18 months with cerebral palsy, a neuromuscular disorder that affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills. As a child, Phillips underwent physical therapy to strengthen and increase function in her muscles.

Now she is influencing the lives of others by providing a $1,500 scholarship for a student in the physical therapist assistant program at NWACC. The Rob Jordan PTA Scholarship is presented in recognition of the physical therapist who worked with Phillips during her childhood and teen years. Nichols is the third recipient of the Rob Jordan PTA Scholarship.

Nichols was surprised to be chosen.

“Receiving the Rob Jordan PTA Scholarship means so much to me because of what the scholarship is about,” he said later. “It factors grades, recommendations, and participation, but most of all it emphasizes the passion to truly go above and beyond the call of duty to help people gain their independence, while establishing a great relationship with your patients.”

Phillips said she would not be where she is today or who she is today without Jordan.

“I owe him much more than I can hope to repay or thank him for, even if I had 10,000 lifetimes in which to do it.”

NWACC’s PTA program is known as one of the top in the state. Graduates from the college have had a 100% pass rate on the state certification exam for the past 13 years, said Sammi Eddie, PTA program director.

“The highest known score received by a NWACC graduate happened this year with a score of 761 out of a possible 800,” Eddie said.

She noted that the Rob Jordan PTA Scholarship provides important program support.

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“Our students spend approximately 30 to 35 hours a week in class and devote an additional 25 to 30 hours a week to study time,” she said. “This leaves very little time to work, and students are often left struggling to make ends meet financially. The scholarship has made it possible for students to maintain focus on studies instead of trying to balance school and work, which is an enormous stress reliever for them.”

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