While Irene’s family is originally from Saigon, they settled in the suburbs of Chicago, IL when she was 1. Like many others, Irene became interested in physical therapy from watching someone close to her live through an experience of recovery. Her grandfather went through a severe brain hemorrhage from a fall that left him hemiplegic. When he came to live with her family, Irene learned to care for her grandfather, but witnessed how devastating it was for him. It was this experience that inspired Irene to help those who are injured or sick regain their function and quality of life again. Irene has her undergraduate degree from Saint Louis University with a double minor in Psychology and Art History as well as her Masters of PT from Saint Louis University.
Today Irene not only assists in our Physical Agents I and II labs, but stays at home with her children and works per diem at Concentra Medical Centers - a work health/orthopedic setting. At home, Irene enjoys experimental cooking with her children, the results of which are dishes such as sweet potato gnocchi. Irene also stays actively involved in service through children’s ministry leader as Bible study leader at Vineyard Community Church, volunteering with refugees and their children at Oasis International in South City and volunteering at Shalom House, a shelter for women.
What does that mean for Irene’s future? Pulling from her initial attraction to physical therapy, Irene says, “Currently, I am interested in research using transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional MRI for stroke patients.” Another area of interest for the future? “I enjoy running and half marathons. When the kids are older, I hope to have time to train for a full marathon.”
Now that you know a little bit about Irene, what does Irene want you to know? Irene’s advice for physical therapy students is this, “Take time to build trust with your patient by listening. The tiny details they tell you that seem insignificant at first, may end up being clues on how to treat and motivate them towards their goals. And carry an extra pen with you. It is inevitable that you realize you lost (or lent out) your pen only right before you need to sign or write something. Therefore, have a spare to save you time and grief.”