The Other Road: Art History to Physical Therapy

Courtesy of Roneil Urbino

Courtesy of Roneil Urbino

He’s a fourth-year, he’s an art history major, he’s from San Francisco. The road to graduation has not been straightforward for Roneil Urbino. After coming in as a biology major, he changed his field of study three years into his undergraduate career to art history. Biology is now his minor and despite this academic turbulence, Urbino will manage to graduate in four years. The interesting part? Urbino does not plan to utilize art history or biology in his career.

Belester Benitez: What led you to change from biology to art history?

Roneil Urbino: It was grades. I wasn’t meeting up to par to the bio expectations so I had to switch out. I was already taking classes in art history, planning to minor in it, so it was what I could do within this year and graduate within four years.

BB: What do you enjoy about being an art history major?

RU: I like how intimate the classes are. It’s a lot smaller than bio. I like how you can learn about a culture through art and it’s not as dense as being a history major, which is so much reading. We still read a lot in art history, I just feel that there’s more freedom. And most of the professors are easy to talk to.

BB: Favorite painting or book?

RU:La Guernica” by Picasso, and you can just put the book, “Game of Thrones,” that’s what I’m kind of on right now … I like what it represents, “La Guernica,” just kind of like anti-war painting. BB: What are your career plans after graduation?

RU: I’m planning to get into physical therapy, or go toward that path. It’s basically rehabilitation. If someone gets injured it’s all about learning how to walk again, or learning how to use that muscle that you injured. It’s not intrusive medicine; you have to do repetition of exercises in order to recover from your injury. Or for older people, if someone has a stroke, it’s learning how to use those muscles again. What I’m interested in is the sports side.

BB: Which of your qualities can help you become a good physical therapist?

RU: I think I’m very personable. Physical therapy requires a lot of coaching. You know it’s easy to get discouraged as a client when you’re in physical therapy because you can’t do all these things you used to be able to do. I think I’m easy to talk to and communicate with, and I feel like it’s easy for me to understand where the person is coming from and try to make it as easy for them to recover. So basically a good coach, and being a supportive character.

BB: What will your college degree mean to you after graduation if you’re not using it actively in your profession?

RU: I don’t want anyone to think that art history is an easy major. Students studying under this major are able to critically analyze the things around them whether it is by seeing, reading or just experiencing the work of art. Most of my colleagues within the major are all comfortable in these aspects and are passionate about the art that we study. By no means is art history a major to overlook.

To an extent, art history was just so I could get my bachelor’s. I don’t want to put any art history majors down, but I was having a hard time with grades and I needed something so I could finish within four years; I didn’t want to drop out. But thinking about it, I feel like art history, there’s a lot of writing, there’s a lot of reading and you’re able to understand different cultures through looking at paintings and learning more about their history.

So it really gives a worldly approach. I think it’s just being open to the culture or being open to the art history major, and just like all these different experiences would help maybe like a little bit in knowing someone’s background or being open to anything that they offer … And also, I think a big thing would be, you know how humanities requires you to go to 2C in a language? I think that’s a really big help. I’m taking Spanish and I feel like that’s something that helps to make me somewhat fluent in so I can talk to people in Español.

BB: So you’re still growing as a person because of your major?

RU: Yeah. I’m not stagnant. And switching into the major kind of gave me a different view of how people in bio, they really want to finish bio just because they don’t want to drop out. Even though I did kind of drop out of bio it still opened my eyes to a lot of different things and how I can continue to move on, you know? It’s not the end of the world that I dropped out of bio.

BB: What would you tell people who let their major restrict them or who are hesitant about doing what they want?

RU: I feel like a lot of people nowadays put so much pressure on the major, on the undergraduate major. And I feel like it determines everything that you’re going to do for your future. Having kind of like a different approach, like maybe doing something that you would do as a hobby, opens up perspective. Because being a physical therapist is something you would do for the rest of your life and I feel like if you get to do something that you’re really interested in to kind of have a different experience and do something new, and not just like a bio major going into med school.

And then it’s just learning these things. There’s so much to learn, so many classes offer so much, and if you just stayed in bio or stayed in some sciences, you see one side of it. I would say, don’t be afraid to change majors if it’s something that you think you’ll be happy in. Because I feel like you can go anywhere you want with any major that you have.

BB: Where do you want to be 10 years from now?

RU: I want to be a physical therapist for an NBA team. I’d be down to be with the Portland Trailblazers or the Golden State Warriors, cities that I really enjoy being in. Or, if the Seattle Supersonics come back, I’d be down to go to a city that I feel I could really develop in … later on I’d probably settle down in a city and open my own clinic. The dream, man. The dream.