Traci Bush looks upon her life as a “series of fateful events that led to a series of opportunities.” From being adopted at two months by “the most incredible parents a person could have” to feeling “terrified” when asked to become the program director of DMU’s doctor of physical therapy program, she told a packed DMU Library Reading Room audience that it’s “what you do with what happens to you that makes life exciting.”
A 1995 graduate of DMU’s physical therapy program and now its chair and associate professor, Bush, P.T., D.P.T., OTR/L, D.H.S., gave her talk on March 2 as part of the University’s celebration of Women’s “Herstory” Month. Titled “Weaving the Stories of Our Diverse Women: Examples of Strength, Passion, Resilience and Courage,” the series of speakers is sponsored by the DMU Library and Multicultural Affairs office.
Bush said her parents ingrained in her and her two older brothers “certain rules and expectations” that have guided her life. Having respect for others and oneself and practicing good manners are important. Her parents also emphasized that while she could do and be anything she wanted, that’s “not a given”; it requires effort. While working full-time as a licensed occupational therapist at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, IA, she decided to also take prerequisite courses so she could apply to a physical therapy program. She applied to three programs, including DMU; she was accepted by two and put on an alternative wait list at DMU.
“I rolled the alternative list dice,” she said, declining the first two offers in the hope DMU would accept her. After that came true, she said, “I received a phenomenal education here.”
Bush then joined Skiff Medical Center in Newton, IA, where her director asked her to develop and manage a new therapy program. At first taken aback, Bush said she bought a “How to Write a Business Plan” book and asked to have two colleagues serve as her team. “Within six months, our small but mighty team had contracts with eight major companies in the community,” she said.
That demonstrated other rules her parents taught her – to “lift up others” by helping them succeed, and to have a team.
“I know I work with people whom I could call and say, ‘I’m in jail in Las Vegas; can you wire me $1,000?’” she said, pointing to her fellow physical therapy faculty and clinicians in the audience. “Now, that’s never happened, but if it did, they would be there for me. I am blessed with having such a great team at DMU.”
Other speakers in the Women’s Herstory Month celebration at the University shared their experiences:
- March 9, Michelle Rogers-Johnson, Ph.D., educational specialist, DMU Center for Teaching and Learning: “I’m Done Hiding”
- March 23, Renee Hardman, M.B.A., president and owner, Hardman Consulting, and a member of the DMU Board of Trustees: “Helping Others See the Light at the End of the Tunnel”
- March 30, Mary Ann Zug, institutional historian who’s held several positions in her 38-plus years at DMU: “My Journey in Three Parts”
Photos from the Herstory series:
This article was updated on 4/6/17 with photos from the series.