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Student Profile: Charles Siguenza

Charles Siguenza first came to New York Tech as an employee at the Adele Smithers Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center. Now working toward his physical therapy degree, he hopes to honor his late father and help change patients’ lives through his work. Feb 20, 2024

“I am so proud of the support and team building that occurs within the Parkinson’s community on campus,” says Charles Siguenza, a Doctor of Physical Therapy student. His late father, a physician and surgeon in Brooklyn, N.Y., was a Parkinson’s disease patient and is Siguenza’s inspiration for pursuing a career in the health professions.

Following his father’s diagnosis, Siguenza devoted much of his time to attending medical appointments with his dad and witnessing how physical therapy can improve people’s lives, including the services offered through the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Adele Smithers Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center.

Moved by what he saw at the Center, Siguenza became a Parkinson’s wellness coordinator at the facility in February 2021, two months after completing his master’s degree in exercise science at Adelphi University. In addition to coordinating educational events for patients and their caregivers, he organized Rock Steady Boxing classes—fitness exercises and activities specifically designed to improve Parkinson’s patients’ physical and mental stamina. In the spring of that year, he became a Rock Steady Boxing coach, where he assisted in and taught boxing-based fitness classes.

“I had an interest in becoming a physical therapist since high school because of my background in sports and the performing arts. But I knew that I would join the field of physical therapy when I became more responsible for my father’s care as his Parkinson’s disease progressed,” says Siguenza, who credits his high school anatomy teacher for helping him fall in love with studying the human body.

In April 2023, Siguenza resigned from his work at the Center and prepared to enter the School of Health Professions’ physical therapy program. He says the skill, professionalism, and compassion of the physical therapists he worked with during his employment are what finally pushed him to pursue his doctoral degree.

“I strive to emulate their manner in my own career,” he says. “I do hope to honor my father’s legacy in the medical field, and I hope to be able to relate to my patients on a deeper level through this experience.”

Siguenza related to patients when he walked the runway at NYIT de Seversky Mansion for the Center’s adaptive fashion show in May 2023. The inclusive event featured models wearing garments designed for those with physical limitations. He modeled adaptive shorts, which allow the wearer to fully unzip them from the waist down to the knee, enabling the user to regain some independence in their daily activities and personal care.

“I am hopeful for the future of Parkinson’s disease,” Siguenza says. “There are already many successful treatments for patients to manage their daily lives. There are great foundations and organizations, like the New York Tech Parkinson’s Walk team, who consistently brings in thousands of dollars in donations at the Michael J. Fox Foundation Unity Walk at Central Park. We are also consistently the largest team at the American Parkinson Disease Association Optimism Walk each year on Long Island.”

While Siguenza has a few years before graduating, he is already mapping out his future in the field. He is considering teaching at the collegiate level, but with his primary passion for working with others to optimize their health, wellness, and performance, Siguenza hopes to work with a Parkinson’s organization. As a former dancer and dance instructor and a current musical choreographer at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, N.Y., he is also interested in working with pre-professional dancers on injury prevention and conditioning.  

“Anything and everything is possible,” says Siguenza. “You can pursue all your dreams and aspirations if you are dedicated and committed to yourself and your ambitions.”

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