GTCC provides Abbey Snyder with a roadmap to her doctorate in physical therapy

Published on: June 22, 2022
Abbey Snyder
When the road got rocky, Abbey Snyder always returned to GTCC for that little extra boost.

As she gets deeper into the coursework for her doctorate in physical therapy, Abbey Snyder realizes more and more the importance Guilford Technical Community College has played in her life.

"It's like G-Tech always took care of me. I just felt like anytime I didn't know my next move, G-Tech helped it make sense for me," Snyder said. "They gave me a scholarship, they recognized me for my grades, they made me feel very special."

"Whenever my life was in limbo, they were laying a foundation."

Snyder is in the second semester of her doctorate studies at Shenandoah University in Ashburn, Virginia. It has been a long, twisty road that carried her to this university about 40 minutes south of Washington, D.C., and GTCC provided much of the needed roadmap.

Snyder, a Greensboro native, graduated from Liberty University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in theater. On the way to that degree, she took a year off and migrated to GTCC.

"My junior year I decided to go to GTCC for two semesters to get more of my basics, and I saved $20,000 (in tuition). It all transferred back to Liberty. That was my first experience with GTCC."

But certainly not her last.

Not long after graduation from Liberty, Snyder got the opportunity for an internship in New York City. She lived in New York City on-and-off for seven years, working as a bartender and a lifeguard.

"One of the summers I worked with special needs kids, and then I realized I wanted to become an occupational therapist. Even before I went to New York, I knew that would be a route if theater wasn't for me right now."

In 2014 her sister was killed in an automobile accident. Shortly after that tragic event, Snyder decided to pursue a degree in occupational therapy. 

"I wasn't going anywhere. I had stopped theater. Then my sister was in a car accident, and she didn't make it. That's when I kind of reset my intentions," Snyder said.

In 2016 Snyder returned to GTCC. Her goal was to take all the science prerequisites for occupational therapy.

Then came another bump in the road. "I applied to OT school, and I didn't get in," she said.

Snyder took a little time off, but in 2018 returned to GTCC, this time with the goal of eventually attending physical therapy school.

"The science prerequisites are almost the same as occupational therapy, and I had already taken most of those," she said.

It wasn't a quick decision made without trials and tribulations. In the end, it turned out to be a decision of faith helped by a chance meeting with someone else in the medical field.

"I'm not really exactly sure when I decided to move from occupational therapy to physical therapy. I think it really came down to God's plan for my life. To be honest, I didn't think I was smart enough. Occupational therapy was hard, but I thought physical therapy was out of the question.

"It wasn't until I ran into this woman in Walmart. She was a perfusionist at Wake Forest Baptist (hospital). We struck up a conversation. She was in the field, and the way she made it seem, maybe I should try. I looked online, and figured I could do it."

It was during this stint at GTCC that Snyder first encountered Anne Simpson, associate professor of physics and the department chair. Not only did Simpson help Snyder conquer physics but she also became a mentor and guiding force in Snyder's life.

"Ms. Simpson was so professional; she was so nice. She helped me understand. She was such a good teacher on something that was so complicated and hard to understand," Snyder said. "She made it understandable. She would meet with me and work with me because she had seen my willingness to work hard."

That hard work paid off with Snyder's acceptance to Shenandoah's physical therapy program — which led to lots of even harder work.

"It's really tough. It's hard. But it is what it is," Snyder said of the three-year physical therapy program at Shenandoah.

Snyder is taking a 19-hour class load this semester that includes neuroanatomy, anatomy two, histology, a thorax exercise class, medical fundamentals, psychosocial studies, and a skeletal class.

But that difficult schedule doesn't dampen her enthusiasm.

"I'm really excited — excited to see where it will take me. I feel like it will open other doors for me no matter what direction I go," Snyder said. "The knowledge and the skill is what I'm most excited about. I feel like it's completing my destiny and purpose. I've always felt I had the gift of healing. I didn't think I would be able to do this, but God turned that around for me. I'm excited to be doing something I didn't think I could do."

Back to All Articles