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Alumni Spotlight: Denzel Mena ’21

by Liz Istas
Denzel Mena at his PT internship
Denzel Mena is pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at University of Kansas after completing his Kinesiology degree at MNU.
Pursuing His Dream To Help Others Live Pain-Free

When 2021 graduate Denzel Mena began his journey at MNU, he was blessed with a Pioneer football scholarship – and an open mind for the opportunities ahead.

As a freshman, Denzel kept his degree options open. Then, during his sophomore year, the defensive end underwent physical therapy following a football injury. It was this personal experience that ignited his passion for a future career in physical therapy. He pursued his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology while preparing for the next big step – acceptance into the University of Kansas School of Health Professions’ Physical Therapy (PT) doctoral program.

Just like his football experience at MNU, competition for entering the PT program would be intense – so the native Cuban set about building an impressive application by earning observation hours, collecting letters of recommendation, and working for two years in a local PT internship at Freedom Physical Therapy, where he enjoyed helping the patients.

“MNU gave me a chance to meet many people that changed my life,” says Denzel. “The faculty that I met along the way and the opportunity to meet the right people here – they helped get me where I am today.”

When asked what advice he would offer to students considering MNU … "It’s always good to step outside your comfort zone and experience something new. Your college experience is what you make of it. It’s up to you and your mentality. Always try to be as positive as you can. Have a good experience and make sure you’re performing with your schoolwork. Because it always comes down to that.”
Denzel Mena ('21)
Physical Therapy Doctoral Student at University of Kansas Medical School

Despite his current load of doctoral coursework, Denzel continues to be involved at MNU by working for the university’s security department. In addition to having the flexibility to work part-time and focus on classwork, he is thankful for his security supervisor. “My boss is awesome and between my studies and security schedule, has helped me find ways to make it all work.”

After graduating with his DPT (Doctor in Physical Therapy) from KU Med in 2025, what is Denzel looking forward to the most? “The opportunity to get out there and help those in pain. Bettering their quality of life, helping them move pain-free so they can do things that everyone should have the opportunity to do, like walking,” says Denzel. “I’m also excited to practice in Miami, where I’ll be closer to friends and family in the city, as well as those in Cuba.”