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Dan Rust Jr. (Choice Therapy) Photo

Dan Rust Jr. (Choice Therapy)

Dan Rust Jr. was referred to the Rural Minnesota CEP, Inc. youth program by Mark Larson, Special Education teacher with TrekNorth High School, Bemidji in November, 2012. School had not always come easy for Dan as he has struggled in the past with behavioral difficulties and trouble with reading comprehension. He had been a student at TrekNorth since 7th been progressing through the program at the school successfully. However, in October of 2010, Dan was severely injured by a gunshot wound to his left leg. Since that time, Dan has undergone 13 surgeries to rebuild the leg so that he could walk. He also went through extensive physical therapy and was forced to have homebound school services his sophomore year of high school.

Because of the circumstances, Dan has not been able to ever have a job. His involvement in the RMCEP youth program was intended to accomplish multiple goals. Having not worked, Dan set out to learn employment skills such as good attendance, reliability, effective communication and problem solving on the job. But early on, Dan also expressed in interest in more than that. His life experience had created an interest in becoming a physical therapy assistant and he begun steps towards going to college in that program. The plan was to search for the right fit to combine learning work skills with a deeper opportunity for career exploration.

With this in mind and a recommendation from Mark Larson, Choice Therapy was contacted regarding interest in the RMCEP youth work training program. Choice Therapy is a private organization offering physical, occupational and speech therapy to patients in the Bemidji and surrounding communities. This is also the site where Dan did much of his personal rehabilitation. Choice Therapy staff members were excited about the chance to work with Dan and he interviewed with the three owners and began his work training on January 21, 2013. Dan's main responsibility at Choice Therapy is working as a therapy aide, which consists of assisting therapists, setting up patients on equipment, transporting patients to and from treatment rooms, cleaning, yard work and light office duties. He also assisted staff at Havenwood Care Center, an elderly care facility in Bemidji where Choice Therapy provides services. Dan has worked up to 30 hours a week since January and will complete his work experience at the end of May when he graduates from high school.


Asked what he has learned through his experience at Choice Therapy Dan responded that "I have learned the true meaning of responsibility, that it is important for me to show up on time and to leave on time and to do what I am told when I am told to do it." He understands now that humor has a proper time and place to be used. Dan shared that he has learned empathy by expressing that half of the physical therapy patients were doing the same exercises and stretches he was forced to do after his serious injury, so he knows how they feel. He has really appreciated the opportunity to work with Choice Therapy staff members and to take another step in his transition from high school.


Jason Brodina, Dan's direct supervisor at Choice Therapy reports that "Dan has been a very hard worker for us, always willing to take on any given task thrown his way. He has been punctual in coming to work and has demonstrated great communications skills with all of our patients, with a happy and outgoing personality every single day of work." He also shared that the "Choice Therapy staff will definitely miss his infectious personality and smile in their facility when his work experience is over!"


Dan will attend graduation ceremonies at TrekNorth High School on May 24 and is enrolled at Bemidji State University in the fall of 2013 to begin to take pre-requisite courses necessary for admission, hopefully later on, in a physical therapy assistant course. Given his personal story of recovery and a real life career experience through the WIA youth program through Rural Minnesota CEP, Inc. (RMCEP) Dan will be well prepared to move forward and accomplish his goals.

  • WIA Younger Youth
  • Rural Minnesota CEP, Inc., Bemidji (Hubbard County)
  • Work Training / Career Exploration
  • Enrollment in Post-Secondary Education at Bemidji State University

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I work full time now, feel great about myself and setting a good example for my kids.  Staff helped me make a plan for my son who is disabled.  They made me feel like they really cared about what they were doing. ~ AN

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I know if it wasn't for Rural Mn CEP I would not be in the positive situation that they helped me get to in my life.  I  am so grateful!  Thank you Rural Mn CEP! ~ TC

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