Julia Castleberry, DPT, D.H.Sc., ’21 started her journey to a doctoral degree in 2017.
She said the balance of working full-time, raising her sons, caring for a small farm and commuting long distances for work limited how much time she could dedicate to her studies.
“It certainly required some good time management skills,” she said, adding that she began the Radford University Carilion (RUC) Doctor of Health Sciences (D.H.Sc.) program by taking one course at a time.
“A colleague had begun the program,” Castleberry said, “and it inspired me to take a look to see if it was right for me.”
At the time, Castleberry had been a practicing physical therapist for almost 30 years. She earned a master’s degree in physical therapy from Duke University in 1993 and a clinical transitional doctorate in physical therapy through a hybrid program at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. She decided to move into academics as a founding faculty member of Radford University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2010.
Castleberry said that collaborating with the faculty in the D.H.Sc. program was invaluable as she grew as an educator. She cites the support and mentorship of program director Jeannine Everhart, associate professor Diana Willeman-Buckelew, and professor Lisa Allison-Jones.
“Returning to school can be overwhelming,” Castleberry said. “Technology, writing skills. and overcoming old habits can be challenging. I found Radford University Carilion and the D.H.Sc. program supportive and accessible for me.”
In 2016, Castleberry moved to teaching at Emory & Henry College’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program and has since earned tenure at the institution.
“Working with community members and the students, including physician assistants, occupational therapists, physical therapists and nurses, has been wonderful,” she said.
Castleberry said that the ability to build not only on her strengths, but also to develop the skills she needed for her chosen profession were some of the best outcomes from the D.H.Sc. program for her. Candidates in the D.H.Sc. program can choose to focus their studies on one of three areas that will support their professional goals: healthcare administration, community and public health, or education and academia.
“The D.H.Sc. program has had a significant impact on my career and on my students,” Castleberry said. “I can’t think of a better compliment to the program than to have others want to learn from me what I learned at Radford University Carilion.”