Blake Burke is a recent graduate of Shelby Valley High School whose love of sports inspired him to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. Blake is one of the 11 students throughout the 12 ARH communities named a 2018 Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholar.
“The scholarships are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school. One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 72 applicants with 11 finalists awarded.”
As an ARH Scholar, Blake will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while beginning his college career pursuing a degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business at Morehead State University. His goal is to ultimately become a physical therapist.
“I’m very grateful,” Blake says. “Any money is good money when it comes to college nowadays…I was pretty excited about it. It’s a great opportunity, especially for people who are going into the medical field. It relates to what I’m doing, it’s great for the community, and it’s a very good helping hand for people who are going into college.”
As an athlete playing basketball, football and baseball throughout his life, Blake can’t imagine not having the ability to walk or run. He has witnessed his grandmother go through physical therapy after having a stroke, an event he says really sparked his interest in the field.
“When I became a freshman in high school I knew I had to pick a career and at first I was interested in engineering, but I kind of realized that wasn’t for me,” Blake says. “My grandmother had a stroke a couple of years ago. She was also diagnosed with cancer right about that time. She went through physical therapy after the stroke and chemo therapy which made her 10 times as weak. I got to see a pretty good group of physical therapists work with her and rehabilitate her and I just wanted to be a part of that because I’ve been on the receiving end. I saw how she had to go through it and I really want to be able to help people with that. There are people who go through that every day.”
After completing his undergraduate degree, Blake plans to attend physical therapy school at the University of Kentucky. Ultimately, he would love to open his own private physical therapy practice.
“I just like to help people,” Blake says. “I understand it’s hard. Physical Therapy is not something that can happen over night. I just want to help people go from completely not being able to walk or do an action to being able to fully do it without help. I just want to be one of those people.”
Story Published in Appalachian News-Express Staff Report