Tonda Wooten was first inspired by podiatrists at the age of fifteen when she went on a medical mission trip to Honduras. Once she saw how they could help people be able to work and provide for their families, without being in constant pain, she knew that was what she wanted to do with her life. She also loved that podiatry allowed her to have the perfect balance of work and family. After looking at the nine podiatry schools across the country, she chose Kent State because she saw that their main concerns were developing the best podiatrists possible and helping their students to succeed.
Once at Kent, Tonda joined the APMSA, a group consisting of students from the nine schools of podiatry. This group discusses student issues two times a year and teaches its members how to be leaders of change. Tonda became the liaison of the APMSA as well, sitting on the national board as the voice of the students. This helped her gain an even better insight into the profession of podiatry, as well as letting her travel to conferences in places such as Hawaii. Her nominator, Carla Ronnebaum, mentioned another of her accomplishments. “She was named the American Podiatric Medical Student Association MVP award in 2014 and 2015. For a student to receive this award twice is absolutely unheard of. It is a testament to Tonda and how well she represents Kent State.” When Tonda graduates she will be doing a three year residency, but she hopes to eventually work in the military as a military podiatrist. She also loves outdoor activities, especially running, and hopes to be able to run a full marathon one day.
Achieving her dream of becoming a podiatrist has not been easy for Tonda. She had always been a good student in undergraduate studies but, when she came to podiatry school, her first exam did not go well. This was the first time she didn’t get a good grade in a class and it took her aback. This experience gave her a new perspective and showed her that she had to work harder and meet with her professor more. She began going to labs twice as much and put in lots of time and commitment into the class. Thankfully, this hard work paid off and Tonda came out with an A in the end.
One of the people who really influenced her at Kent State was her Biochemistry and Physiology professor, Dr. Tim Whittingham. Not only was he a great teacher, but the endless time he devoted to students really inspired Tonda. Dr. Whittingham was always there to help Tonda pass her classes and always made sure to be unselfish with his time. This impacted Tonda to want to give back as well and be selfless with her time to enhance student lives. Her grandparents also were role models for her, teaching her to work hard and have patience in life. Tonda’s older sister Margaret motivates her as well to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, like she does.
Tonda’s advice to other students is to make a map to your goals, then work hard and go out and get them. What she will remember most about Kent State are the faculty and staff and how they want students to succeed and do well. Kent State has been a very encouraging place for Tonda, as well as a positive environment for her to grow both professionally and personally.