From sacrifice to success: a journey through physical therapy school

Screenshot 2024 06 20 At 3.45.01 pmAncelmo Mojarro came to Fort Worth to study. The Tyler native knew he wanted to be a physical therapist early on his undergraduate days.

He embarked on his path to physical therapy a decade ago, inspired by his friend’s suggestion amidst his quest to find his calling in the medical field. “I started shadowing a physical therapist and instantly knew this was my path,” Mojarro recounted, reflecting on the moment he found his purpose.

Mojarro’s story is not just about academic achievement but about perseverance, sacrifice and the unwavering pursuit of a dream against all odds.

His journey began at Tyler Junior College, followed by the University of Texas at Tyler, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. Despite initial setbacks in gaining admission to physical therapy school, Mojarro pursued a physical therapy assistant degree as a steppingstone. He worked diligently for a year in home health care before finally gaining acceptance to the rigorous physical therapy program at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

Mojarro’s pursuit of education was not without personal challenges. Balancing the demands of graduate school with family responsibilities was particularly taxing. “I had my first child during grad school,” Mojarro shared with a mix of pride and emotion. “Being away from my family was tough. I traveled back home every weekend, leaving them behind to focus on my studies.”

The challenges continued to mount as Mojarro’s family grew: He welcomed two more children during his tenure in graduate school, further testing his resolve. Despite these hurdles, Mojarro remained steadfast in his commitment, driven by a deep sense of responsibility to provide a better future for his children.

“I wanted to give them opportunities I didn’t have,” he reflected on his upbringing in a low-income household. “My parents worked hard to provide for us, but education was something I had to figure out on my own.”

Mojarro’s dedication bore fruit as he navigated the demanding curriculum of physical therapy school with singular focus. He eschewed social engagements to dedicate every spare moment to his studies, a strategy that paid off with academic success.

“My second year, I had another son,” he recalled. “It made things even more challenging, but I was determined to set a positive example for my children.” Despite the demands of school, Mojarro remained connected to his family, relying on their support while maintaining a rigorous study schedule.


Looking forward, Mojarro aims to specialize in orthopedics, aspiring to become an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist after gaining experience in the field. His immediate focus is preparing for his licensure exam, scheduled for July.

Reflecting on his journey at HSC, Mojarro highlighted the enduring memory of hard work and dedication. “It was about putting in the work, studying relentlessly, and maintaining my GPA,” he affirmed. His story is a testament to resilience and the transformative power of education, inspiring countless others facing similar challenges.

“Ancelmo’s journey to the DPT is one of hard work, drive and resilience,” said Dr. Michael Furtado, chair of HSC’s Department of Physical Therapy. “Each individual that comes through the doors at HSC has their own story, but they often do not come the route of being a physical therapist assistant, having a family, and trying to balance many significant life roles. He is an inspiration to his family, friends, colleagues and community.”

Mojarro’s story resonates not only with aspiring physical therapists but also with anyone striving to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. His determination to succeed against all odds serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in a world often fraught with challenges.

“I want my children to look back one day and see that hard work and sacrifice can lead to a better life,” Martinez shared, his voice brimming with determination. “Everything I’ve done has been for them and their future.”

Beyond his professional aspirations, Mojarro plans to continue advocating for educational opportunities and support for students facing similar circumstances. He hopes his story encourages others to pursue their goals relentlessly, regardless of the obstacles they may encounter.

Mojarro expressed gratitude for the unwavering support of his family, particularly his fiancée and his parents, who provided stability and encouragement throughout his journey. With commencement approaching, Mojarro looks forward to celebrating not just his academic achievement but also the resilience and determination that define his path to success.

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