Initially, Kila Butts resisted the idea of going back to school. She would have to quit her job, survive off her husband’s income and find a way to pay tuition. But, after eight years in the telecommunications business, she decided it was time. Kila pushed her doubts aside and enrolled at OTC.
“I couldn’t let fear motivate my decision,” Kila said. “In my heart, I knew this was the right thing it do. I had to go for it.”
Three years later, Kila’s big move paid off. The 32-year-old recently graduated from OTC – student loan debt free – as a physical therapist assistant.
Not long after graduation, Kila was named a 2020 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. The $1,250 scholarship, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation, recognizes one outstanding workforce-bound student from each state.
“Going forward, I have to earn continuing education every two years to maintain my license. And now, thanks to these scholarship funds, I won’t have to worry about that expense,” Kila explained.
A theme throughout her higher education experience, Kila credits scholarships for helping her graduate with zero student loan debt. She joined Phi Theta Kappa early in her student career and discovered a host of scholarship opportunities available to members.
“The scholarship application processes were always super easy. You would enter your GPA and some financial information, and the website would show you every scholarship you were eligible for,” she recalled. So, I would fill it out, write an essay, and that was it – piece of cake.”
Finding her fit
Kila says her passion for physical therapy grew with each class she took at OTC.
“There wasn’t just one moment where I was like, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’ It was a continuous buildup of that feeling,” she explained. “The longer I was in the program, the more assurance I got — ‘Yes, this is where I want to be. This is what I was made for. This is what I want to do.’”
Today, Kila is a PTA at Southwest Rehab in Branson West. She works primarily with senior citizens – her new favorite clients, she says.
“In school, I didn’t think I would be interested in working with the elderly population, but I’m finding that I really love it,” she explained. “Everything from the way they talk – to the stories they share and the wisdom they impart – it’s been really fun.”
Kila’s latest self-discovery is just one of many she’s made throughout her PTA journey. She’s learned to trust her instincts and challenge herself – traits that will serve her well in her future career.