Rachel Farnham ’10

Rachel Farnham

In September 2019, a group of medical professionals joined with Medical Missions Outreach to hold a free medical clinic in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Rachel Farnham (Pre-Physical Therapy ’10), one of the medical professionals who volunteered to serve, will never forget that trip.

During the clinic, Farnham and two other team members worked with people dealing with musculoskeletal pain, many of whom did not have insurance and had limited resources to buy pain medication. “I was able to see how simple exercises after evaluation could take patients from severe back pain to, in many cases, little or no back pain at all. Best of all, these exercises and simple postural re-education could empower the patient to care for themselves long after our clinic was gone and help to prevent a return of their pain. The smiles we saw during those few days were priceless.”

During trips such as this one, the volunteers partner with Baptist churches in the areas where the clinics are held in order to share the gospel with people who come to the clinic and disciple those who make a decision for Christ.

“The opportunity to show God’s love by helping reduce people’s pain, improving their strength to complete tasks, or helping ease their fear of injury is awesome,” Farnham said. “Better yet, many of the patients also heard the gospel and made the decision to accept Christ as their Savior.”

All throughout high school, serving in missions was what Farnham wanted to do as an adult. The problem, though, was that she wasn’t sure how she should serve.

“My family encouraged me to find my ‘talent’ and use it to serve the Lord. As I looked at the courses online, I chose to pursue the pre-physical therapy degree at PCC because it seemed to be a field very focused on caring for and helping others,” Farnham said.

Throughout the next four years, Farnham immersed herself in classes such as First Aid, Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Biology as she prepared for graduate school. “I will always appreciate my training at PCC. I learned that no matter what skills/strengths you have (nursing, doctor, finance specialist, etc.), you can find a way to use your talent for God and others.”

After she graduated, Farnham worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in an Alzheimer’s unit and went on a missions trip to Bangladesh to shadow Christian nurses, doctors, and physical therapists at a hospital there. “Seeing PT used in missions and making a difference with the people there is what confirmed for me that this was the correct direction for me to take.“

Soon afterward, Farnham was accepted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Springfield College, where she graduated with her doctorate in 2015.

Since then, Farnham has worked as a physical therapist at Cape Fear Valley Hospital in North Carolina. Although she has already fulfilled a variety of roles, she currently works with patients who have had strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or amputations, or who have diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. Farnham is also certified to treat vestibular disorders (AIB-VR) and evidence based stroke rehab (CSRS).

Farnham loves working as a physical therapist. “A favorite part of working in my field is seeing patients improve in their daily lives. I’m so happy that in this field I can encourage my patients to improve their overall mobility and get back to the activities that mean so much to them,” she said. Farnham specifically pointed out how rewarding it has been for her to work with a very young patient who had lost the ability to walk. After starting therapy, this patient progressed to walking with a walker, to using crutches, to using only one crutch, and more recently to taking a few steps without a device.

“Getting to know this patient, seeing their determination to get better and hearing all their life goals including college, family and career, has been very motivating to me and my teammates every treatment session to do the best we can,” Farnham said.

While Farnham holds a stateside job, she has never lost sight of her original purpose in studying physical therapy. “I am so thankful this past year to have traveled with Medical Missions Outreach on their trip to South Africa to work with other medical professionals in a free medical clinic providing physical therapy services,” Farnham said.

“God has given me more than I deserve,” Farnham added, “and I would not be a physical therapist today without His help and the people He has put in my life along the way.”

Charity Perkins ’10

Charity Perkins

  • Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria Entomology Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Master’s degree in Biology: University of West Georgia
  • Master’s degree in Public Health: Georgia State University

Charity Perkins (’10) works as a biologist for the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria Entomology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Given the current issues of insecticide resistance that malaria control efforts are currently facing, real-time information will better guide strategies on reducing the mosquito populations and ultimately the prevalence of malaria,” Charity said. Her project involves the use of Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP), a novel method of DNA amplification that requires as little as a single mosquito leg. Charity said, “This will be of significant public health importance since using LAMP for DNA amplification is highly sensitive and specific, extremely cost-effective, and will give real-time surveillance data in the field without the use of expensive technologies or even a laboratory.”

After obtaining her B.S. in pre-physical therapy from PCC, Charity graduated with honors from both the University of West Georgia and Georgia State University, earning master’s degrees in both biology and public health. “Although I did not pursue a career in physical therapy, having a background in medical knowledge has greatly helped me to understand certain aspects of public health, particularly in relation to the manifestation of malaria in humans,” Charity said. “I have always loved learning, but I never knew what capacity I had to learn until I attended PCC.” Charity continues to apply the principles she gained from her classes to her job. “The emphasis on punctuality, having pride in one’s work, and integrity are attributes that I continue to carry into my daily work routine,” Charity said.

Along with her work at the CDC to combat the insecticide resistance in mosquitos that carry malaria, Charity has also been involved with the fight against Ebola. “I was given the opportunity to participate in a 30-day rotation within the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center during the 2014 Ebola Response,” she said. While working on this project, Charity drafted three children’s publications about Ebola and helped deployers throughout their entire deployment process. “It was undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am truly grateful to have been part of,” Charity said.

For Charity, the chance to make a difference on a global scale is a dream come true. She said, “To have a part in two of the top global public health concerns is both exciting and surreal.”

Learn More

Check out PCC’s natural sciences department for the pre-physical therapy emphasis.

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