Senior Mikalia Guard to Pursue Doctorate in Physical Therapy at UNC

Hardship Shaped Graduating Student’s Resilience and Adaptability


Despite taking off a semester due to her mother passing away from cancer, senior Mikalia Guard’s philosophy is to take life “day by day, step by step” to succeed in the future. Not only will Guard graduate on time this spring, but she will attend University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in pursuit of a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Danielle Brooks, Editor-in-Chief

Bridgewater, Va.- Senior Health and Exercise Science major Mikalia Guard, from Fayetteville, N.C., was impressed with Bridgewater when she first stepped on campus as an incoming freshman. When she first got a feel for Bridgewater, she realized this was not just how the College functioned during orientation, but felt the kindness of the community would last all throughout her four years as an Eagle.

One of Guard’s biggest academic challenges coming into Bridgewater was “learning how to study in the best way.” 

Guard said, “In high school I just studied how everyone told me to study. But when I got to college, I definitely had to learn and adapt to each class,” as she found studying for an English class would require different preparation than a science class, like “Anatomy.”

During Guard’s junior year, her mother passed away from cancer leading her to take a semester off from Bridgewater. Coming back spring semester of her junior year, she had to make a major life adjustment. Guard said “learning how to adapt” was crucial for her college career.

Taking the semester off and staying on track for her major required her to move “one step at a time” and ensure she could take classes without having to transfer. If she had taken too little credit hours, she would have been considered a transfer student and needed to reapply to Bridgewater.

Guard took just under the limit–11 credits–and worked while she was at home to maintain a schedule and avoid getting out of a routine. Because she “is definitely the kind of person that needs a pace,” Guard managed to work at home, take classes and will graduate with her class on time this spring.

“I worked really hard to pay attention in my community college classes the same way that I would here, so when I came back it was a little bit easier for me to go back in academically, softball-wise was a little bit harder,” Guard explained.

Having been part of the softball team at Bridgewater since her freshman year, Guard was also the team captain her sophomore year. Her circumstances junior year meant she would come back to a team after having worked at home independently, requiring her to make yet another transition.

Many of her teammates had developed close friendships while she was away. She did not know half of the girls on the team due to the large freshman class upon returning.

“It was day by day, step by step, ‘this is what I need to worry about today, I’ll worry about the rest tomorrow,’” Guard said, stating she was “simplifying the problems and making [them] easier to handle.”

Guard’s years on the softball team helped her learn the values of teamwork, adaptability, working with different personalities, problem solving and professionalism when talking to coaches and professors.

Looking back on her college career, Guard’s advice for students was to “live every moment to the fullest and learn from every moment that you live in…there’s always a lesson and there’s always something that you can learn and take on in other situations that you go through.”

Fall 2019 Guard will be attending University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She plans to determine what area of physical therapy she will work in during graduate school.