Carlondrea “LaLa” Petty '23 plans to be a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach. She is fascinated with the way the human body can heal itself.
In high school, Petty sustained an injury while running track and went to physical therapy herself. Throughout the process of rehabbing her injury, she noted how physical therapists used a client’s body, through manipulation, stretching, and correcting in other ways, to heal an injury.
That process piqued Petty’s interest.
“I also really like that you can see the journey of a patient from start to finish when you’re helping them,” she says.
Petty has already experienced this process herself through opportunities outside of the classroom.
In addition to shadowing physical therapists, Petty volunteers as a sports performance coach at Clay High School in South Bend. There, she developed a speed, agility, and quickness program for the girls volleyball team.
Petty also works as a mobility coach with EAT, a South Bend organization that serves high school and college football players looking to stay in shape between seasons.
In addition, Petty has been a student athletic trainer at Notre Dame and is a certified personal trainer and performance enhancement specialist.
Her experiences outside the classroom have been key in helping Petty prepare for a future program in physical therapy. At Notre Dame, she is a science preprofessional studies major and has a supplementary major in Spanish.
Her goal is to become a bilingual physical therapist who can cater to Latino clients when needed.
Petty developed an interest in the Spanish language while growing up on the west side of South Bend. The area is home to many Latino people and Petty grew up surrounded by Mexican-American culture.
She had the opportunity to take Spanish classes throughout elementary, middle, and high school, and wanted to further that education in college.
During her junior year, Petty participated in the Puebla, Mexico study abroad program.
In Puebla, pre-health majors participate in a hospital rotation program that includes clinical shadowing and opportunities to understand healthcare from a cross-cultural perspective. There are also program excursions that introduce students to nonprofits that work in issues of rural healthcare and health education.
A large part of Petty’s Puebla experience was her research with the nutrition department of Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP). Petty and a partner worked together in the creation of a brownie that is beneficial to patients with multiple sclerosis. The brownie was organic and contained antioxidants and other healthful ingredients. The idea was to create a food that would give people with multiple sclerosis more energy while also providing them with something to enjoy. The project was well-received and won third place in the Congreso Internacional de Nutrición Clínica competition.
Outside of class and research in Puebla, Petty was also a “Storyteller” for Notre Dame International (NDI). She blogged about her experiences abroad and, along the way, became an advocate for study abroad students’ mental health.
Because of her interest in the topic, Petty began talking to fellow students, researching how students felt while they were abroad as well as techniques for improving mental health.
With the support of NDI, she started a show focused on mental health abroad. During episodes, she interviewed students and used the platform to highlight mental health issues and helpful techniques. The show became a tool for other students going abroad.
Petty now oversees her own health brand called Get Fit With La. Through it, she offers personal and performance training and overall wellness tips.
“The brand is based on holistic education and training. So [it includes] the idea that mental health and emotional health are just as important as working out and your physical health,” says Petty.
Because of her background and interests, Petty is a popular speaker on campus. She is often invited to speak on various panels that highlight the student experience.
In addition, she has been involved in several clubs and organizations that have helped shape her Notre Dame experience. They include Shades of Ebony, the Black Student Association, and Campus Ministry.
She is also the director of community outreach for the Student Government Association at Notre Dame, helping to connect students with service opportunities throughout the South Bend community.
Through her various experiences, Petty has learned to focus on the things that matter most to her. She went through a big change when she first got to Notre Dame.
Petty had run track in high school and the sport was a big part of her identity. When she decided not to run track at Notre Dame, she made a huge decision that she feels changed her trajectory. Petty says it was for the best, though, and makes a point of reassuring other students.
“I would just say, do what’s best for you and really live out what you want your purpose to be—or what you are discovering your purpose to be,” says Petty. “Don’t feel ashamed of changing or switching from something that you no longer have the drive for. Do what’s best for you.”