Physical Therapy student chases dream

When Kayana Trottier transferred to the University of North Dakota, she followed her passion for physical therapy despite the challenges in her personal life.   

Retracing the footsteps of her mother, who earned a master’s degree in education at UND, Trottier wanted to pursue physical therapy at the university. Months before she applied, however, her mom died. Devastated by the loss, Trottier said she struggled in her courses at first. Her mother was not there to hear her concerns and tell her that “you worry too much.”

“But I ended up getting through it with my family, friends, professors,” she said.

An enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Trottier first attended Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, N.D. She had moved to the reservation as a teenager, and the college provided an opportunity to learn about her heritage.

The college had a “big family dynamic,” she said. But so does the physical therapy program at UND.  When she mourned the death of her mother, professors helped her in and outside the classroom.

“It meant the most to me as somebody who was struggling because they didn’t have to do that for me,” Trottier said. “They want you to be successful not just as a professional or as a physical therapist but in your personal life, too.”

Read Kayana’s story and the stories of other inspiring leaders in action.