Carissa Wengrovius is earning her PhD in movement science with the goal of promoting a more holistic approach to health care.
Carissa Wengrovius is earning her PhD in movement science with the goal of promoting a more holistic approach to health care. Carissa started her career in psychology, beginning graduate school in the field and developing an appreciation for the strong connection between psychological and physical health. It was when she shadowed a pediatric physical therapist at a preschool during a school psychology internship that she began to develop a sense of calling to a different career. Transitioning from psychology to physical therapy was not easy or straightforward: Carissa spent three years working as a physical therapy aide and completing prerequisite courses at a community college. Her persistence paid off when she became a licensed physical therapist and certified clinical instructor, one of the most fulfilling parts of her career.
While advising students on best practices, however, Carissa began to notice gaps within the field of research, particularly around the benefits of integrating mind-body strategies into conventional practice. These gaps motivated Carissa to pursue research as a graduate student, and she soon earned acceptance into her doctoral program at the School of Kinesiology at U-M. Carissa’s research now focuses on examining the physical and psychosocial effects of yoga in children with and without disabilities, with the overall goal of creating effective, easily disseminated programs that promote healthy lifestyle behaviors in diverse communities.
Carissa has continued to persist throughout her graduate studies, drawing on the example of her mother, who finished her bachelor’s in nursing while raising Carissa as a single parent. While raising her own young daughter through the COVID-19 pandemic, Carissa has served as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Pediatrics Annual Conference Programming Chair, completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, attended an integrative medicine leadership program, and earned the Top Student Research Abstract Award from the 2019 Symposium on Yoga Research and the APTA Pediatrics Emerging Leader Award. She has also remained committed to service, volunteering as a class facilitator for the Therapeutic Yoga Group at the U-M Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.
CEW+ commends Carissa’s persistence and names her the Christine Kahan Black Scholar.