Even as Derek Sturdevant was finishing his bachelor’s degree in athletic training, his heart began to shift.
Still, he shook off his doubts, graduated from Marywood University and entered the field. He spent four years at Chenango Forks Central Schools, where he coached lacrosse and soccer at the middle school level.
The life of an athletic trainer involves both long days and traveling and, in the end, Derek wanted something more grounded. He decided to go back to school, and enrolled in SUNY Broome’s challenging Physical Therapist Assistant program.
“I had so much knowledge coming in, I wanted to do something along the same lines, more in line with my hours and lifestyle,” he explained. “It was a great decision for me to come here.”
SUNY Broome is a family tradition of sorts: Derek’s father is a Hornet alumnus, and enjoyed his time at the college.
Derek is deeply involved in both his program and in campus life. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and president of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Club, one of the most active clubs on campus. He and his fellow club members conduct community outreach events, educating others about the opportunities in the field, as well as fundraisers for various causes.
He also tutors freshmen PTA students during drop-in hours, answering their questions about their courses and the program as a whole.
“I enjoy helping people. When I worked at Chenango Forks, I tutored kids in science and math,” he said. “Last year as a freshman, I ended up tutoring my fellow classmates unofficially.”
There is an added benefit to tutoring: It helps Derek master the material himself, a benefit as he faces his future licensing exam. Outside of the classroom, he takes part in clinical rotations at local physical therapy offices, which gives him the experience he needs for his future career.
“I’m really enjoying the chance to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it to actual human beings,” he said.
He has begun looking for a job to prepare for his post-graduation future. Looking back, Derek appreciates the knowledge and experience of all his professors, and particularly has a place in his heart for Professor Julianne Klepfer: “She genuinely cares about all of us and would do anything to help us,” he said.
Returning to college can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have already established a home and a life – and care for two rambunctious dogs, as Derek does.
“I probably should have come right when I finished my bachelor’s, but I was a little tired of school at that point and I wanted to do something else,” he admitted. “It was a tough decision at first to get going, but three days in, I was so glad I did it. Going back was definitely the right thing for me.”