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Driven to Create the World’s Best Chiropractic Students

Drive. What the best are made of.

Printed in towering block letters, it’s the first word prospective students will encounter when they receive Palmer College of Chiropractic’s brand-new marketing materials in the mail.

The Drive enrollment campaign, brought to life through a suite of dynamically reimagined recruitment materials, is just one piece of Palmer’s holistic strategy for attracting top students, which includes significant campus investments over the last decade and the newly established Fountainhead Scholarship Program.

“Our admissions counselors are hitting the road this fall with the new materials, and we’re so excited to know prospective students are learning more about us when they see our new and improved website,” says Michael Norris, vice chancellor for admissions. “We’re already trending to enroll our largest fall class in 10 years, and we’re hoping the new recruitment campaign accelerates it even further. And we’re not stopping there. We’re focusing even more of our attention on the best and brightest. We’re driven to get in front of every prospective student we believe will do incredible things at Palmer.

To do that, says Norris, the admissions team is dedicated to listening to students to understand what they need to choose Palmer over other possible paths to their goals. We sat down with five current students to hear what “drives” them to become Doctors of Chiropractic.


Following in Big Footsteps

TyRhee Burnett can often be found sitting with his books and notes under the five-foot busts of D.D., B.J., Dr. Dave and Mabel Heath Palmer — his favorite place to study. “I like to feel them watching over me as I find my place in what they started,” he says. “At Palmer, you’re following in some big footsteps, but it’s pushing me. I get to learn what they’ve passed down and share it with the world. That’s amazing to me.”

Like many Palmer students, TyRhee came to chiropractic by chance. Four years ago, while studying to become a physical therapist, he landed a job as a rehab tech at a chiropractic office in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. With the encouragement of the Doctors of Chiropractic at the practice, he began to explore the profession and realized how it aligned not only with his moral beliefs but also with his ambitions to manage patient care as a practice leader. But it was only after he discovered D.D. Palmer and the history of chiropractic that his course was irreversibly set — and that Palmer College had to be the next stop along his way. “I wanted to be part of that history,” says TyRhee.

History might have drawn him to the Fountainhead, but TyRhee sees Palmer forging its own new paths, too. “They’re constantly asking, ‘How can we make this program better for students? How can we make it better for the patients they’ll serve in the future?’ I love that this school is always changing — they were the first, but they’re not stuck in the past.”

Just Like Family

It’s only a three-hour trip from Coamo, Puerto Rico, to Port Orange, Florida, but for Bárbara Colon Rodriguez, leaving her hometown to study at Palmer felt like a journey into uncharted territory. A native Spanish speaker, she had never studied in English before. And she had spent her undergraduate years living with her parents, surrounded by familiar comforts of home. Yet her desire to study chiropractic was strong enough to drive her past her doubts and into the unknown.

“I was afraid I was going to be alone,” Bárbara recalls. “But I’ve always been a very determined person. Early on, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to do this.’ So I did.”

Only two quarters into her time at Palmer, she’s found what she needs to bridge the distance from her family back home: her Palmer community. Among her class of just under 50, Bárbara counts nine other students from Puerto Rico, along with several others in different quarters. “From the first day, we’ve been like a family,” she says.

That can be said of her wider campus community of peers and professors, too. Bárbara remembers, her first day on campus, being wrapped in a warm hug by one of the students she’d met while visiting. “She told me she was so glad I was here and asked if there was anything I needed,” Bárbara says. “I think everyone at the College is like that.”

As she and her fellow students pursue their goals together, they have the momentum of a constantly evolving profession behind them. “Every chiropractor I’ve met says, ‘Yes, you’re the future. You can do it!’” says Bárbara. “I love the camaraderie of this profession because in the long run, we’re all going to need each other.”

No One’s Shadow

For three summers, Justin Liebman had the best seat in the house when it comes to witnessing the power of chiropractic: interning as an assistant in his father’s New Jersey practice. “Over those three summers, I saw countless patients and their transformations,” says Justin. “Seeing each of their journeys was remarkable, and to see a career that could impact so many people so profoundly, I had to choose chiropractic.”

As Justin starts his first quarter at Palmer Florida, his own journey is driven — but not determined — by his father’s example, as well as those of his uncle and cousin, both Palmer graduates. “I’m excited to create my own legacy,” he says. “I don’t want to be a shadow of my dad. I want to be my own doctor.”

He’s already begun taking advantage of Palmer’s diverse array of clubs to find the niches that will complement his entrepreneurial bent and allow him to make an impact all his own on his future patients.

And studying at a cutting-edge Palmer campus in 2022, differentiating himself from the generations that came before won’t be hard. “I toured Palmer Florida with my dad, and when we went through the new fourth academic building, his jaw was dropping the entire time,” Justin laughs. “Knowing the quality of the facilities they’re building today — and seeing the impact they made on him — I knew I was where I needed to be.”

Always a Movement Forward

No one knows their way around Palmer’s Main and Florida campuses like the College’s Campus Guides. But with the aggressive pace of campus enhancements, keeping up is a tall ask even for them. “You’re going to need your own guide when you come back,” Caleb Horn likes to joke to his fellow Guides.

Caleb remembers his own visit to the Fountainhead as a prospective student in 2019, when several of the brightest highlights of the tours he gives today — from the Bruce & Bethel Hagen Student Union to the David D. Palmer Learning Commons to the Experiential Learning Center* — didn’t even exist. “At Palmer, there’s always a movement forward and never a movement backward,” says the seventh-trimester student.

Yet no matter what changes on the surface, Main Campus remains rooted in its 125-year history, not only in touches like the century-old arches preserved in the Learning Commons but also in the vital spirit of that iconic invitation to “Enter to learn how.”

“Some alumni ask, ‘What about the B.J. Palmer Clinic where I did my first adjustments?’” says Caleb. “I tell them, ‘Well, we turned it into this amazing learning space that’s tailored to helping today’s students become the best chiropractors possible.’”

Caleb sees a common thread, too, running through and uniting Palmer’s diverse community of students, alumni and faculty. “It’s one of my favorite things about my experience here,” he explains. “You can know nothing about a person, but you’ll spark a connection because you share the same passion for chiropractic. No matter what, it’s always there.”

Setback or Step Up?

Who ever said there wouldn’t be detours along the path to success? The history of Palmer College and of chiropractic itself is full of obstacles and confrontations, dead ends and difficult decisions — all, in hindsight, essential turning points on the way to today.

Before Gross Anatomy II, an academic course had never gotten the best of Isaac Boedigheimer. “That was a huge setback,” says the third-trimester student from Cloquet, Minnesota. “It really makes you wonder, ‘Is this program, this school, this career the right choice for me — or did I make a huge mistake?’”

But for Isaac, drive means perseverance in the face of uncertainty. “Those setbacks force you to remember why you want the goal you set for yourself,” he points out. “The first trimester is hard for a reason, and that’s to see who is resilient and can keep moving forward. Everyone wants to be someone and do something, but the only people who will get there are the ones who don’t just wish for it but put in the work.”

Ultimately, Isaac says, you’re the only person who can keep yourself going — but surrounding yourself with supportive peers goes a long way. “I was surprised when I got to Palmer by how open and selfless everyone is with each other,” he says. “Palmer students are dedicated not just to achieving their own goals but to helping their peers achieve theirs as well. I haven’t met a single person here who hasn’t offered me some kind of help.”

That, too, is what drives Isaac “I’m doing this to give back as much as possible to the people who’ve given so much to me.”

Got Spizz?

The Drive enrollment campaign may be brand-new, but B.J. Palmer had his own word for the thing that “puts happiness in the head, determination in the heart, energy in the hand, and invisible courage in the will” — spizzerinctum, or spizz.

“You have no chiropractic practice without spizzerinctum, everything else is just mechanics,” wrote B.J. “Great chiropractors are loaded with spizz, their magnetic and abundant energy flows through every cell of their being.”

*The Experiential Learning Center was dedicated May 31, 2023 as the William J. & Mary A. Kiernan Hall – Anatomy & Technique Center.