Future University of Central Oklahoma student chooses major based on struggles

Future University of Central Oklahoma student Jessica Matallana plans to study physical therapy as a result of her own experience.
By Lindsay Houts, For The Oklahoman Published: June 11, 2014
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Jessica Matallana will get closer to her dream of becoming a physical therapist when she starts college as a freshman in the fall at the University of Central Oklahoma. But the Piedmont High School graduate took her first steps toward that career years ago in a dance studio — a move that has earned her a national scholarship.

Shane Co., the largest privately held jeweler in the United States, recently named Matallana the overall winner of its inaugural “Creativity in Action” scholarship contest. Matallana’s scholarship, worth $5,000, was reserved for a student displaying academic achievement and demonstrating how creativity could play a part in career aspirations.

In her winning essay, Matallana described the creativity involved in dance, her personal struggle with an injury, and how her aspirations for a career in physical therapy were born from both.

From an early age, Matallana had a persistent pain in a bone in her left foot that plagued the young dancer. She delayed surgeries, concerned that complications could permanently end her career, and opted to dance through the pain.

In 2013, Matallana relented and consented to a procedure. Doctors shaved the troublesome bone in hopes it would ease her pain. It didn’t, and another surgery followed, breaking the same bone so it could heal correctly.

“After multiple surgeries and meeting with six or seven doctors, one finally told me, ‘Just stop dancing,’” Matallana said.