A career in PT

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

Submitted photos

Shenae LaCroix graduated from the University of North Dakota this year, with a degree in physical therapy. Left to right, with her mother, Susie, father, Brad, and sister, Sierra. 

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent

 

Shenae LaCroix, 2013 Newcastle High School graduate and daughter of Brad and Susie LaCroix, was a talented athlete during her years at NHS. Her interest in sports and an encounter with sports injuries led her to a career in physical therapy so she could help get people back to their activities. 

LaCroix just completed her doctorate in physical therapy at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Before that, she attended the Rapid City School of Mines and Technology for her freshman year of college, running cross-country and track there. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Black Hills State University, graduating in 2017. 

While in high school, LaCroix took part in sports, and one of her favorite memories was state basketball her senior year, when she played with her sister, who was a freshman. 

Her love of sports was challenged when she got shoulder tendinitis in both shoulders during her sophomore year of high school, she said. The pain was intense, and she was told that the only way for it to go away was for her to quit sports. 

However, LaCroix’s physical therapist, Brad Fischer, knew that wasn’t an option for the athlete, and he did the best he could to help LaCroix achieve her dreams and goals. 

“That’s what I wanted to do,” LaCroix said. “I always knew I wanted to do something to help people and get them back into sports.”

After her first-hand experience of the benefits of physical therapy, LaCroix began interning with physical therapists at the hospital. She interned with Brad Fischer and Mike Evenson. 

Going to college in North Dakota was difficult, LaCroix said, because she was 10 hours away from her family, and it was a challenge to get used to the change. However, she said that she has many fond memories of her time at UND, BHSU and the School of Mines. She was involved in sports at both the Black Hills schools, and she said that she made a lot of friends. 

At UND, LaCroix said that there were 51 people in her class, so she made 51 great friends. They had a lot of good times together, and a few of those fun memories included sledding off of snow piles with pizza boxes, getting together for barbecues and enjoying other activities together. 

Now that her college journey is over, LaCroix said, her future plans include coming back to this area. She is currently in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where her last clinicals were taking place. However, a week into them, they were canceled due to the pandemic, so she stayed in Aberdeen, where her boyfriend and his family live. LaCroix plans to take the National Physical Therapy Examination in August to become licensed, after which she will work as a physical therapist at Peak Motion in Sundance. The clinic has a second location in Spearfish, where LaCroix will spend a couple of days a week working, she said. 

“My biggest goal is just getting patients back to what they love doing,” LaCroix said, noting her desire to become a confident physical therapist and help people the best way possible. 

“She’s always just been determined to be the best she can be,” Susie said of her daughter. According to Susie, her daughter has also always loved to take care of people. 

“She’s so much a caretaker,” Susie said. 

Brad expressed his pride in his daughter and her work ethic, and he said that her skills match up with what is needed in a physical therapist. Brad said that he hopes his daughter will be healthy and happy, and he said that as long as a person has those two things, everything else seems to fall into place. 

LaCroix said that she is grateful that she grew up in Newcastle and that she loved the small-town feeling of knowing people and feeling supported. Susie noted the impact the community had on LaCroix from teachers, coaches, other physical therapists and others in her life. 

“Our community kind of inspired her,” Susie said. 

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