Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Faces of Giving | All in the Family

Two generations of Emory alums share one philanthropic vision
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William ‘Lee’ Roberts with his daughter and fellow DPT alum Caroline Roberts.

Caroline Roberts 14DPT will tell you she shares a unique connection with her dad, William ‘Lee’ Roberts 81C, 84MPT, 06DPT. Both are graduates of the Emory DPT program who work as physical therapists in Florida. Lee is in his 24th year of school-based pediatric physical therapy, with a focus on neurological issues. Caroline currently works in outpatient orthopedics but hopes to someday also work in school-based pediatrics.

How did you both decide to go into physical therapy?

Caroline: I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist when I was 7 years old. I grew up watching my dad as he volunteered with Special Olympics and helped my uncle, his brother, with cerebral palsy. The more I understood about the role of a physical therapist, the more passionate I became about pursuing this career.

Lee: Caroline made a booklet in first grade naming ‘physical therapist’ as her career goal. She never changed that dream.

I originally thought I’d be a dentist. But because I have a brother with cerebral palsy, I was around physical therapy and kids with handicaps most of my life. When finishing undergrad, I shadowed a physical therapist at Emory University Hospital. That experience helped me understand the impact that physical therapy can make on the lives of patients.

What’s it like being in the same field?

Caroline: It’s helpful to always have him as a resource when I have practice-related questions, ethical challenges, or equipment needs.

Lee: We banter on a professional level about ethics, evidence-based research, and best practice. I joke with my boss that she should hire Caroline because she’s a better therapist than I am. I’m amazed with what she has learned.

Caroline: I’ve always known my dad is great at what he does. It’s a huge encouragement to me to know that after all his years of practice, my dad still loves his job. The passion with which he pursues his work is unrivaled, even after all these years. His patients know it. His colleagues know it. He’s as passionate as he was his first day.

What helps you both stay passionate?

Lee: The work is rewarding because I can make a difference in a child’s life. It’s a big deal if I can help them make seemingly small improvements that make a huge impact on their quality of life. They can begin to see progress and gain independence.

Caroline: It is an absolute privilege to walk through the rehabilitation process with my patients. Helping them reach their goals and regain their function is an honor.

Lee, your family donates each year to Emory Division of Physical Therapy. Why does your family support Emory financially?

Lee: It’s important that we support the amazing program Emory has built. Physical therapy programs are expensive, and I want to help students afford Emory. They’re going to come out with a great education.

Caroline: For my dad, it’s a way to continue to promote the profession and to make sure his patients will have well-educated clinicians care for them when he retires. We are very thankful for the way Emory prepares students to care for each patient as an individual and not just as a diagnosis. Our hope is that the program will continue to lead the profession in providing the best care possible.

Share in Emory PT’s Future

If you’ve been inspired by Emory faculty members or alums, consider turning your enthusiasm into action. To support student scholarships, visit emory.edu/give or contact Andrew Christopherson, director of development, at 404.727.8253 or andrew.christopherson@emory.edu.

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