Joye Leader, DPT '21 May 20, 2021
Doctor of Physical Therapy
As often happens, life experiences can lead one to a certain career. This was true
for Joye Leader, DPT ’21, who grew up in Americus, Georgia, in the southwest corner
of the state. During her junior year of high school, she tore her rotator cuff muscles
while playing in a state doubles tennis tournament and was forced to forfeit the match.
Having considered herself invincible, discouragement set in after her physician prescribed
physical therapy to strengthen her shoulder muscles and help her regain her range
of motion. Surprisingly, she was able to return to tennis her senior year even stronger
due to the prescribed exercises.
Fast forward a few years later when Leader was a senior at Spelman College, an historically
black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta. Her boyfriend, now husband, tore
his anterior cruciate ligament while playing basketball at Georgia Tech and underwent
arthroscopic surgery. While undergoing three months of physical therapy, he initially
struggled with confidence in himself and the desire to continue the sport. His attitude
quickly changed once he began his orthopedic rehabilitation sessions.
“He came back from each session more encouraged and confident in his full recovery,”
Leader recalled, noting that he spoke of the conversations he and his therapist had
about life. “This exposed me to the mental and emotional benefits that physical therapy
can have on a patient,” she said.
She chose the physical therapy profession after closely observing that it gave her the opportunity “to get to know
my patients on a more personalized level, while helping them recover their strength
so that they can return to their chosen sport or activity pain free.”
Leader graduates with three goals:
- To elevate the standard of service excellence within the industry;
- To pursue the latest techniques for recovery;
- To enlighten the community about techniques for healthier lifestyles and injury prevention.
“Many individuals are unaware of the simple items and basic movements that can be
used to strengthen the body at home. My overall goal is to use physical therapy to
transform and improve the lives of others.”
Leader is inspired by her late mother. “She instilled in me at an early age that I
could achieve any goal that I set for myself.” The same year Leader experienced her
tennis injury, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away.
Aside from enjoying sports, Leader is a talented musician. She used her musical skills
to play alto, tenor and baritone saxophone in college where she was a member of the
Spelman College Jazz Ensemble. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and then
earned an MBA in General Management from Troy University, Troy, Alabama.
Leader returned to Atlanta to attend PCOM Georgia because it “mirrored my own values. PCOM’s commitment to diversity, while also taking a holistic approach to health care, strongly appealed to me,” she said.
Just a few days away from commencement, Leader encouraged future students to “work
hard and never give up,” advice that has helped her achieve her dream of becoming
a physical therapist.