Kelly Lindahl '16


Name: Kelly Lindahl

Graduation Year: 2016

Major: Psychological Science, Spanish minor

Your Story: I grew up in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Throughout high school, I was
actively involved with my church’s youth group (at Lord of Life Lutheran Church).
Our youth pastor (and Gustavus Alum!), Todd Buegler, brought our confirmation
group down to Gustavus for a day in the fall of my sophomore year. I knew after that
day that I wanted to go to Gustavus, too. The campus is beautiful; the community is
strong. Those are two aspects I recall hearing all the time while at Gustavus, and I
knew it then, but since leaving, I know it so much more. Looking back, the kindness
of students, faculty, and staff at Gustavus is something I will never forget. Being able
to walk across the small campus, and see so many smiling faces doesn’t happen
everywhere. It’s one of the many things that makes Gustavus special.

I remember the summer leading up to first year move-in day, and I received a few
mailings from Gustavus with creatively designed graphics to show how excited they
were to welcome our class to the hill. My mom saw all the mailings that summer and
expressed how the amount of care Gustavus pours into making each person feel
welcomed already makes it all worth it.

Physical Therapy had been a career goal since high school. My mom had her knee
replaced when I was 16 or 17, and I remember going to some appointments with
her. I saw how the therapists genuinely enjoyed their job, and I saw how physical
therapy transformed my mom and our family. Recovering successfully from the
replacement helped my mom move more and with less pain. Simple things, like the
amount of time to walk from the car into the grocery store, improved, and our
family was able to do more together. Since then, I knew I wanted to help others
improve their quality of life through movement.

Starting at Gustavus as a first-generation college student, I knew I would
have to navigate unexpected challenges, and I knew I would have to work hard to
pay my own way through school. I am ever grateful to Gustavus for the amount of
support through all the ups and downs. So many individuals helped shape me and
get me to where I am today.

Since graduating, I spent a year serving in England with the ELCA’s Young
Adults in Global Mission. There, I volunteered with a church to support their
programming and community, as well as serving as a health volunteer at a refugee
and migrant center helping refugees and asylum seekers find access to health

Upon returning to the U.S., I moved out west to work as a retreat
coordinator at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp and a physical therapy aide at a local clinic. 2018, while working at the PT clinic, was the first year I applied to PT school. I
applied to four schools, and I was rejected by three and waitlisted by one. While naturally, I
was distraught, I began to see how normal that is. I realized that it’s alright not to
get in the first year you apply – many people apply two or three years before getting
in. That’s okay. I decided to work on strengthening my application through working
in a PT clinic and retaking the GRE, and I applied to just two schools last fall. A few
weeks before receiving an offer for an interview at the University of Montana, I
received an email from Heidi Selzler-Bahr to schedule a time to connect about
physical therapy. We later had a mock interview to prepare for my visit at the U of
Montana. I am so grateful for that time as I felt much more confident going into the
interview weekend.

My path towards physical therapy school is not “traditional,” and every experience
has helped shape me into a well-rounded, globally conscious person ready to take
on graduate school.

Top Five Activities/Experiences: (in no particular order)
1. Peer Assistants (sophomore and junior years)

2. Learning to Serve trip to St. Peter’s sister city, Petatlán, Mexico over spring break
my senior year.

3. Spending four summers working at summer camps in Idaho and Montana (Luther
Heights and Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp)

4. Collegiate Fellow (senior year in Southwest)

5. Semester abroad in Alicante, Spain

Try to think of three things.... you wish you would have know or would encourage
others to do....

1. Balance! Your grades are important, and to be competitive in the application
process, you’ll want an A/B average; however, remember to take care of
yourself, too. Prioritize what is important to you and how those priorities
will help you achieve your goals. Be sure to look into schools now and see
what prerequisite requirements they have.

2. Build relationships with your friends, professors, and staff at Gustavus. They are
there to help and those supportive relationships can accompany you well after you

3. It’s okay to take some time off after graduating. You can find opportunities to go
abroad, volunteer, work as an aid in PT clinics, or other opportunities you are
passionate about. Be mindful of when your courses will expire for schools you’d like
to attend, but know you don’t have to go straight into graduate school. I graduated
four years ago, and the volunteer and work experiences I have had since have only
strengthened my application.

Future Plans:
I am looking forward to moving to Missoula, MT this summer to begin PT school at
the University of Montana in August 2020.

Updated 4/22/2020 HB