Scholarship Fund Honors Sara Fowler Anderson

The Sara Fowler Anderson Scholarship in Physical Therapy has been established to honor the life and career of Sara Fowler Anderson, a 1981 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Physical Therapy program.

Scholarship Fund Honors Sara Fowler Anderson click to enlarge Sara Fowler Anderson (’81)

Thanks to the generous commitments of Sara’s husband, Dr. Ted Anderson, and their daughters, Megan Anderson Phillips and Lauren Anderson, as well as other family members, friends, and colleagues, a scholarship fund in Sara’s honor has been created at the Medical Foundation of NC.  Jason Parks Albright, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student from Asheboro, North Carolina, has been selected as the first recipient of the scholarship for the 2012-13 academic year.

Sara Fowler Anderson was a loyal Tar Heel with close ties to the University.  Her mother, father, uncle, brother, sister, and two daughters are all graduates of UNC.  Recognized as a Margaret L. Moore Scholar during her time as a PT student, Anderson frequently expressed her appreciation for the education she received and the association she maintained with her professors.

“She was really proud that so many of the people she’d been educated by were pioneers in the field of physical therapy,” said Dr. Ted Anderson. “She felt like by going to UNC, she became part of that history and the development of the discipline.”

Sara Anderson’s physical therapy career spanned three decades prior to her death in September of 2012. She enjoyed providing services to a wide spectrum of those in need of physical therapy, from infants and children in early intervention programs to seniors in retirement facilities, from those requiring home health care to those receiving inpatient care. She developed close relationships with her patients and was frequently approached when out in the community by former patients expressing thanks to her. Anderson’s compassionate character and capable clinical skills combined to make her one of those rare health care providers whose mere presence could make those she served feel better.

The Sara Fowler Anderson Scholarship in Physical Therapy will be awarded annually to a UNC physical therapy student with preference given to a student who is a resident of the state of North Carolina and who expresses an interest in providing physical therapy services in a community setting.

“Sara was very grateful for the education she received at UNC,” said Dr. Anderson. “She felt they did a great job of providing her with the knowledge and skills she needed to be a good physical therapist. We really wanted to honor her and encourage others to pursue a career in this field. We hope it will be helpful to the students who receive the scholarship and eventually to the community, which will benefit from the care and leadership these students will provide in the future.”

UNC Physical Therapy Division Director Rick Segal and Jason Albright, the first recipient of the Sara Fowler Anderson Scholarship.

After he had been selected as the first Anderson Scholarship recipient by the Physical Therapy faculty based on his academic performance and potential for contributing to the PT profession, Jason Albright quickly realized that he had connections to Sara Anderson that extended even beyond their educational and professional choices.

“I was surprised to find that she lived in my hometown of Asheboro, her husband was my pediatrician until he moved his practice, I went to school with her two daughters, my dad was their mailman, and we both have connections to Camp Thunderbird,” Jason said.  “Even though I never personally knew Ms. Anderson, I know that she was a caring Tarheel that provided a realization of a better tomorrow for me and my family–a realization that I hope I can pass along, everyday, as I proceed in my career.”

Albright intends to use his physical therapy education for both local and international outreach.  He hopes to have a fall prevention program set up and ready to implement by the time he graduates in 2013, and would like to develop more preventative programs for common problems people encounter, such as back injuries, and programs that help patients who have completed their physical therapy treatments but still feel they need guidance to reach their optimal health goals.  He also wants to use his knowledge of physical therapy to help children in orphanages that he visited in China.

“Many of these kids had functional problems that could be treated with PT and I hope that by treating them, they will more likely be adopted,” he said.

Memorial gifts to the Sara Fowler Anderson Scholarship in Physical Therapy Endowed Fund at the Medical Foundation of NC can be mailed to Kyle Gray, Director of Development, Division of Physical Therapy, UNC-Chapel Hill, CB # 7120, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7120 or make your gift online at