Zion Segears wearing a white lab coat
Zion Segears gained valuable insight and experience during a summer internship at Columbia University. (Contributed photo)

New York internship immerses Zion Segears in physical therapy career

Rising sophomore with graduate school goals explores possibilities of PT.

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Zion Segears’ summer internship at Columbia University gave him the chance to explore both a physical therapy career and New York City.

Segears, a rising sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University, landed the internship through the Summer Health Professions Education Program, a national program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions.

While he was at Columbia, Segears, who is interested in attending graduate school for physical therapy, shadowed different physical therapists around New York.

“It has given me more of a perspective of what it would be like to work as a PT in a hospital. Because physical therapy schools generally require a certain number of hours required of shadowing, it was good to have a chance to start early,” he said.

Segears, who is majoring in health, physical education and exercise science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, also met faculty who worked in Columbia’s doctoral physical therapy program.

“We were given insight on processes like admissions, clinical studies, labs and how to be successful throughout PT school,” Segears said.

Segears enjoyed the opportunity to experience New York during his internship. Highlights included visiting various boroughs in the city, attending Broadway shows and going to an African festival. Segears also appreciated the abundance of Latin culture in the city.

“It gave me an opportunity to really practice my Spanish speaking, reading and comprehension skills,” Segears said. “I also visited the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. With the founder Arturo Schomburg also being a Black and Puerto Rican man, I felt a sense of representation. I had a great time there.”

Born in Fairfax County, Segears chose VCU because “it had a good business school, good pre-health programs and a lot of diversity,” he said. Carlton Goode, an academic advisor in VCU’s University Academic Advising unit, has been one of Segears’ primary mentors, he said.

A man holding a lizard and smiling at it while standing in front of tents.
Zion Segears enjoyed the opportunity to explore New York while he was in the city for his internship. (Contributed photo)

“He has been a huge factor in my success at VCU and an overall positive influence in my life. He has taught me life skills, networking and helped me embrace leadership roles,” Segears said.

Segears is serving as the chair of community service for the VCU student organization Developing Men of Color.

“As the chair of community service, I facilitate and organize our community service projects alongside other like-minded individuals who want to give back,” he said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience to be in this role and I look forward to continuing it this fall.”

Segears’ interest in physical therapy dates to his high school years in Fairfax County.

“During high school I was mainly interested in playing basketball. After dealing with multiple injuries, I wound up in physical therapy. I collectively spent close to three years in physical therapy and being immersed in the environment piqued my interest,” he said.

Segears wants to help others who need physical therapy rehabilitation.

“I never realized how much impact those physical therapists would have on my life. I dealt with chronic pain and physical limitations that felt nearly impossible to overcome at times, but my physical therapists helped me get through that and understand my body more. I went from feeling so hopeless about ever recovering to finally feeling healthy again. I want to be able to do that for other people.”