Physical therapy alumna focuses on improving lives in underserved Hawaiian community

Two people sitting in chairs

Gary Singh '22 and Genevieve Correa at her physical therapy clinic in Molokai.

The Hawaiian island of Molokai has one main road and no stop lights. Physical therapy alumna and former adjunct faculty member Genevieve Correa ‘12 had planned to stay in the small, rural community for a few months while working as a traveling physical therapist.

Two years later, she owns the island’s only private, stand-alone physical therapy clinic and has created a wellness center to improve the lives of the community she calls her “ohana” (family) through classes and job opportunities.

“There was just something drawing me in,” Correa said, “It seems cliche, but it feels like all my training was meant to bring me to where I am.”

Correa graduated from Pacific’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. She went on to complete a residency and fellowship with Kaiser Permanente and was an adjunct faculty member at Pacific for seven years while also traveling the country as a physical therapist for a few years.

Her clinic, Molokai Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, opened in 2020. Some of her patients have found relief for the first time in more than 15 years. 

Adolph Helm, a native Hawaiian who is one of her patients, said her clinic is sorely needed.  There is often a waitlist for people trying to see a physical therapist at the hospital. 

“She brings support to a segment of the community that may need help right away, but can't get it,” Helm said. “She has helped me tremendously in my rehab process not only physically, but emotionally. She brings a holistic approach to her care.”

Shortly after opening her practice, Correa wanted to do more to improve the lives of people in the community and started Malama Molokai Wellness, which she is working to establish as a nonprofit. Correa and others teach 17 classes a week in Tai Chi, yoga, ukulele and hula. 

“I want people to understand that if they take care of their wellness, they don't have to worry as much about their health,” Correa said. 

She also provides jobs, which are needed in the area. Molokai’s unemployment rate in June was 13.9%, far exceeding the state of Hawaii’s 4.3% rate, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The drive to help others comes from her mother. “She really pushed the idea of helping people and making sure you're doing things for the right reasons,” Correa said. 

She enjoys sharing that passion as a mentor to physical therapy students, including recent graduate Gary Singh ’22 who interned at the clinic.

"In my short time on Molokai and being mentored by Genevieve, I feel that I have taken a huge leap in both my professional and personal growth,” Singh said. “This mentorship has reinforced the ideology that to provide meaningful healthcare, we must treat the individual as a whole, not just the impairments they present.”

“My passion comes from giving back to the people of Molokai, to give them education and give them opportunities to expand themselves,” Correa said.