Tara Leszczewicz’s fascination with the human anatomy and physiology led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy at Maryville University.
Upon graduating, she wanted to further her education and have a stronger business background to more effectively direct therapy departments, so she pursued a Master of Health Administration at Maryville.
“Throughout this time, I continued to practice as a physical therapist in a variety of settings but found my niche to be outpatient orthopedics, especially post-operative diagnoses,” she said. “I found working with diverse patient populations ranging in age from 1 to nearly 100 to be very rewarding. I was making a difference in the functional aspects of my patients’ lives while sharing my love for anatomy and physiology through patient education and explaining treatment rationales.”
Leszczewicz became an American Physical Therapy Association Credentialed Clinical instructor and began accepting physical therapist students for clinical education internships.
“After the first week with my first student, I knew what I ultimately wanted to do for the rest of my life – teach,” she said.
She earned her Doctor in Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University, giving her the education necessary to teach at the collegiate level. After moving to the Chicago suburbs, she continued working as a physical therapist while teaching part-time at various local community colleges in both physical therapist assistant and biology departments. Through teaching a variety of courses, Leszczewicz realized she wanted to focus on anatomy and physiology and was ready to transition to academia full-time.
“While I appreciated having the ability to make a difference in the quality of my patients’ lives, I feel blessed to have the amazing opportunity to facilitate the learning of future health care providers and add value to their education with my clinical background,” she said. “I hope my students leave my class with new and enhanced life skills that promote personal, academic and professional growth such as self-advocacy, emotional self-regulation, self-reflection, inclusion and time management.”
Leszczewicz wants her students to leave with a tool box of study strategies to apply in subsequent classes. She embraces the challenge of helping all students wherever they are on the spectrum of preparedness, including those students with learning differences.
“My students leave knowing that our relationship together is not over, that my door is always open to support and mentor them along their academic journey,” she said. “I hope the life skills my students have developed over a semester, coupled with a strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology, will provide them the solid foundation needed to be successful in future coursework and their chosen health care career as well as be able to effectively advocate for their own health care needs.”
The passion of her past professors inspires Leszczewicz to share her own enthusiasm for both the subject matter and lifelong learning. She is also inspired by her own family to foster a supportive learning experience.
“I strive to create the type of experience all students deserve and that I would hope my children will experience someday when they venture into college,” she said. “These individuals, along with my personal drive, inspires me to keep current with educational psychology, teaching pedagogy and scientific research; reach struggling students; and support those with learning differences.
“I am grateful each day that I have the privilege to be a professor at College of DuPage, helping students change their lives with education.”