A Commitment to Healing

A scholarship helps Ethan Taylor ’22, DPTx’25 find his calling as a physical therapist.

Headshot of Ethan Taylor

Taylor’s military experience taught him how to “handle almost any scenario with a level head.”

Ethan Taylor ’22, DPTx’25 isn’t just the first in his family to attend college — he will also be the first medical professional. Taylor grew up in Blaine, Minnesota, and when he enlisted in the Army National Guard at 17, he was certain that his future was in engineering. However, he soon discovered otherwise.

When he was in basic training, he realized that he had a passion for exercise and rehabilitation. “I learned more about physical therapy and found that I really enjoyed rehab for the sports population,” he says.

Taylor enrolled in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), which has one of the oldest physical therapy programs in the country. He was drawn to the diverse range of injuries and rehab processes and the way athletes tend to commit themselves to healing. “It always motivates me to be the best clinician I can be,” he says.

Taylor is a recipient of the Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Price Memorial Scholarship, which honors a marine who was killed in action in Afghanistan in July 2012. This fund, created in 2019 by J. D. Garbrecht ’97, provides support to physical therapy students with veteran status. Over the last two decades, Garbrecht has helped rehabilitate wounded service members through physical therapy. His patients and their families, as well as 35 years of military service, inspired him to create the scholarship.

Taylor was inspired by his own military service. “Being part of the Army National Guard showed me what hard work truly looks like,” he says. “Some of the most difficult experiences of my life happened during that phase. Those situations taught me how to handle almost any adverse scenario with a level head.”

Having found his path, Taylor seized both educational and social opportunities at SMPH. “The faculty and staff make it obvious that they care about each individual,” he says. “I’ve also found some incredible friends who I can see being with for the rest of my life. They’ve really helped pull me through some tough times.”

Taylor also mentions a particularly powerful experience he had working for a pro bono clinic. “The patient I currently work with is extremely receptive to therapy and is always excited to participate,” he says. “On the final day of the 2022 fall clinic, he was able to walk up the stairs without assistance, which was one of his goals for the semester. It was an amazing and emotional experience. He motivates me every week and is a shining reminder of why I began this journey in the first place.”

Published in the Summer 2023 issue


  • Carole L Wagener August 30, 2023

    Physical therapists are strongly needed in all fields today. I graduated in PT from UW-Madison in 1970. Back then is was a four-year program with a three-month internship. It was tough then, but so much more knowledge is needed today that it requires a PHD. I’m married to a Vietnam veteran and now we both need PT. I feel right at home in the clinic, doing my exercises, “do 20 of these and 10 of those.” PT was my dream job and hopefully, Ethan’s too.

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