The summer before her senior year in high school, while working as a counselor at a youth sports camp in Missouri, Minija Edgar contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite.
“It was like I had the flu for a month,” she recalls, adding that it took nearly a year to recover from the lethargy caused by the disease. It also kept her from participating in two of her passions: running and dance.
It was one of many twists and turns on her path to earning a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from the College of Health and Human Sciences.
The Boulder native was all set to pursue a career in the arts when she took an anatomy course in high school and decided that the science field is where she belonged, and opted to attend CSU.
Her freshman year, she began working as a physical therapy aide in the CSU Health Network, handling duties that ranged from scheduling, paperwork and answering phones to fitting patients for crutches, braces and boots.
When a close friend’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she revived “Warrior Baskets,” a philanthropic effort that her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, had done in the past. A Warrior Basket, given to women undergoing chemotherapy to fight breast cancer, contains items to combat side effects of chemo: blankets, lip balm, fuzzy socks, magazines and inspirational quotes.
Then, the summer before her sophomore year, she fell while running and dislocated her kneecap.
“It popped right back into place, so I finished my run,” Edgar remembers. “But when I awoke the next morning and got up, I fell back on my bed because of the pain.”
After six months of physical therapy, she had surgery to repair the damage caused by the fall.
“Again, I couldn’t be physically active, which had always been a prominent part of my life,” Edgar says. “My self-image decreased, and my mental health suffered.”
But she persevered, and often shared her own PT experience with patients in the Health Network.
“My physical challenges taught me to be thankful for my capable body, now that it’s healthy,” says Edgar, who plans to continue her education in PT and become a cancer rehab therapist. “People take it for granted. Pursuing physical therapy is perfect for me because it will let me help people heal.”
“I am thoroughly impressed with Minija’s drive, compassion, dedication and leadership,” says CSU Physical Therapy Manager Carol Miller. “She lives her life with gratitude. She believes her mission is to serve others and promote health and wellness. Her own challenging journey has taught this important fact.”