Dallas Student is Perfect on PTA Exam

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Celeste Watkins opened the email from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy with great anticipation. She knew she had passed her National Physical Therapy Exam - the Federation had released the pass/fail results a week earlier - but she had no idea what her score was.

What she saw left her in a state of disbelief.

"It was definitely a surreal moment," she recalled. "I had to look twice to see if I was interpreting the results right."

What Watkins saw was that she had attained a perfect score on her national licensing exam, something few students achieve, let alone those who have yet to even complete their programs and graduate. Yet, there it was. Right there on that piece of paper, she wasn't sure she even wanted to read.

"I really couldn't believe it," she said. "It was an amazing feeling. I really think surreal is the best way to describe it."

A born Physical Therapist Assistant

Perhaps Watkins shouldn't have been so surprised. She'd proven herself capable and well-prepared. To be able to take her test early, she had to meet a set of stringent requirements that included maintaining a high grade-point average, obtaining letters of recommendation from instructors and doing well on practice exams.

She said she was able to meet those requirements because of the education and training she received in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Concorde - Dallas.

"It was amazing," she said. "The instructors and staff were so supportive on both the academic side and in the real-world training we received. It was a very intense program. But they made us all feel like a family that was getting through it together."

Betsy Chandler, PT, MS, C/NDT, PTA Program Director at Concorde - Dallas, said Watkins was a model student from the get-go.

"Celeste was one of those dream students - mature, intelligent, with a high sense of personal responsibility," Chandler said. "When we were offered our first clinical slot at a clinic managed by someone I highly respect professionally, we knew we had to send someone that would represent herself and Concorde well. Our first thought was Celeste, and she did not disappoint."

A passion for physical therapy

Watkins said she's been passionate about physical therapy and being a Physical Therapist Assistant for years, but life postponed those dreams for a while. A single mother of three, she said she waited until they got older - they're 14, 11 and 7 now - before she could take some time for herself and go back to school.

"I was home with my kids for 12 years," she said. "But, with them getting older, it made the time right to pursue my passion."

Watkins selected Concorde for a practical reason - it provided the shortest commute and the dates of the program worked best for her. But, she said it also was the program's high pass rate with its students that attracted her most.

"The other programs I was looking at didn't have that," she said. "That was important to me."

Returning home as a Physical Therapist Assistant

Watkins was hired as a PRN at her clinical site while still in the Concorde PTA program. Today, she works as a Physical Therapist Assistant at a long-term facility in her hometown of McKinney, Texas.

"I have so much respect for what she has been able to accomplish," Chandler said. "Graduating with honors, taking and passing her licensure exam three weeks before graduating, all the while raising three beautiful children."

Watkins said she owes much of her success to the training she received at Concorde. She ranks it high among Physical Therapist Assistant schools.

"I would definitely tell someone who asked to go to Concorde - Dallas," she said. "The instructors were phenomenal. I would not have made it through the program without them."

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