Up Close With KARLY GoTSCHALL (Purdue '17)
Purdue Evans Scholar Karly Gotschall never thought she could learn so much from a 13-year-old girl.
But Gotschall, a sophomore health science major from Fort Wayne, Indiana, learned many life lessons when she was partnered with a developmentally-challenged girl through PETE’s PALs. Sponsored by Purdue, PETE’s PALs is an aquatic and motor skills program designed to help children with disabilities gain mobility and independence.
Karly has twice volunteered for the program, and found each interaction with her partner more rewarding than the last.
“Making a connection with a Pal and seeing your relationship with that person grow throughout the program is such an incredible feeling,” she said. “Working with her taught me to think on my feet and problem-solve in situations when my Pal wasn’t having a good day ... It was sometimes challenging but everyone there has such a positive attitude and wants to help. That was inspiring.”
The experience she gained through PETE’s PALs could prove invaluable to Karly, who hopes to earn a doctoral degree in physical therapy upon graduation from Purdue in 2017.
Her interest in the field was piqued as a child when her two older sisters both suffered knee injuries that required surgery. Karly accompanied them to several physical therapy appointments and was intrigued by what she saw.
“I was only in elementary school at the time but I loved going because I loved the atmosphere of the place,” she said. “Everyone was so positive and focused on recovery. When I got to high school, I did a lot of shadowing and observation hours and fell deeper in love with the profession.”
Karly earned the Evans Scholarship as a caddie at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, home of the Hotel Fitness Championship.
Since arriving in West Lafayette, Karly has excelled in the classroom – where she maintained a 4.0 GPA in her freshman year— and in the Scholarship House, where she has been elected to several leadership positions and was recognized by her peers as a Scholar of the Week earlier this year.
“Karly is truly a shining light in our chapter. She lifts others up in all that they do and is always smiling,” one of her fellow Scholars said. “Karly exhibits the pillars of Evans Scholarship through her volunteer activities outside the house and her academic work in the classroom.”
Karly said the recognition of her peers reaffirmed her love for the Evans Scholars Program.
“Receiving that honor really made me feel like a respected and valued member of our House,” she said. “Reading the things my fellow Scholars had to say about me really made me feel like I belong here. This Scholarship is one of the best in the country and has put us all on a path toward bright futures.”
Did you know?
A SOCCER STAR
Football may be a passion for some in West Lafayette but “fútbol” is Karly’s favorite past time, having played the sport since she was three. She played all four years while a student at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne.
“I was planning to commit to playing soccer in college had it not been for the Evans Scholarship,” Karly said. “I miss it terribly and do my best to convince myself that playing intramural is enough.”
A "THRIFTY" SHOPPER
One would be unlikely to find Karly sporting clothes purchased at shopping malls or upscale boutiques around campus. She instead prefers the quirkiness and quaint charm of local thrift shops.
“I try to thrift at least once a week and I’m always up for trying new, tiny thrift shops,” she said. “It’s fun to just look around, and it’s always interesting to see what you find.”
When not perusing the aisles of a local thrift shop, Karly enjoys browsing Pinterest, the popular social media website, for ideas on how to turn trash into treasure.
“I used to be really into making jewelry with macramé or just beads, but lately I’ve been more into making things to decorate my room,” she said. “My room is covered in things I’ve made out of string, crayons, Scrabble tiles and stuff like that. I like turning anything you would find in a junk drawer into something more fun.”