Cara Saval has deep roots in Baltimore.
Her family has lived in the area for five generations. Her great-great-grandparents immigrated from Russia, and in 1932, her great-grandfather started a small business called Saval Foodservice, which still exists today. Over the decades, the company expanded and now has several facilities. Her father and her uncle are the current owners, while her cousin and sister hold positions at the company.
As for Saval herself, the 25 year old lives in Chicago and recently received her doctorate of physical therapy from Northwestern University. She returned to Chicago after spending much of the past year in Baltimore, during which she helped out at Weekend Backpacks, a nonprofit that provides Baltimore City schoolchildren with backpacks filled with food for the weekends.
Saval grew up in Pikesville, where she attended Pikesville High School and Beth El Congregation of Baltimore. She has a bachelor’s in health care studies from the University of Richmond, Va.
What made you interested in health care studies and physical therapy?
I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. I didn’t really decide what I wanted to do until my junior year of college, but I knew I wanted to work pretty closely with patients and have that one-on-one interaction with them. I’ve always been interested in physical health as it relates to mental health and all the benefits that it can give you, so I thought physical therapy would be the best place to suit me.
What would be an ideal job for you after you graduate?
I’m interested in neuro, neurology specialty. I’m especially interested in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
What was your involvement in Weekend Backpacks?
My plans took a turn and I was in Baltimore for way longer than I was originally planning because of COVID. So I was able to help out with Weekend Backpacks, doing actual filling of the backpacks with food. My mom is a board member and chairperson so I helped her plan some of the events and made flyers, that sort of thing, but mostly just actually packing the backpacks.
Do you do volunteer work in Chicago?
I worked with a program in Chicago that is called Chicago Youth Programs, and we help kids from underprivileged areas with homework help, reading skills, it all depends on their age level. They would actually come to our building Thursdays and we would stay after school to help them with homework and things like that.
What are you looking forward to as things start to open up?
I’m really looking forward to being back in Chicago. A lot of my plans were put on hold, so now that I’m graduated … I’m very excited to find a job and actually use all that I’ve learned the past three years and really putting my physical therapy practice to the test and actually practicing with patients and be able to make a difference in their lives. I’m also excited to see my friends I haven’t seen in a while in Chicago and be able to just hang out with people and see people one-on-one that I haven’t in the past year.
What does your Jewish identity mean to you?
Mostly a sense of community. Growing up in Pikesville, community is there. It’s called Smalltimore for a reason, and the Jewish community especially feels like that small, close-knit community. Growing up going to Hebrew school, having Shabbat dinners, it’s just been super important to me and I would [want to] have that for my future kids. Especially right now, with antisemitism rampant, having that sense of community is so special.