By Sara Segoviano
Completing my education had always been on the back burner for me and not an immediate priority. I just did not see the need. I had a high-paying job at a nuclear pharmacy as an administrative assistant and pharmacy technician. This mentality changed when I found myself jobless and unsure of my next move. It was then that I recalled my father telling me as a young child, “Everything could always be taken away from you, except for your education.” Being thrown into a significant lifestyle change, sitting in unemployment offices and feeling the affects of a reduction in funds, I knew that I needed to quickly make a career-minded decision. I knew that I could not allow that situation to be my final destination. My father’s words kept coming back to me.
I had heard from a friend who completed the dental assisting course at Trident Technical College (TTC). She told me about a physical therapy aid course that I could perhaps pursue. I found this idea to be interesting. After researching it a little further, I ended up applying and got in. I was a student again.
I was well into my first year when I attended a meeting that changed my life forever. I had met Suzie Walters, fitness specialist program coordinator, who informed me about a new Certified Fitness Specialist Program being offered at TTC. While learning more about the program and the desire to get students involved, I decided to give it a go. I quickly applied and was excited to get accepted.
Little did I realize there was such great demand for certified personal trainers in the working world — or that this would be where I wanted my path to take me. I figured that I would graduate with an associate’s degree and a few certifications in personal training and would be good to go.
Over the course of the next two and a half years, under the watchful eye of Suzie Walters and other professors at TTC, I lived, breathed, learned and trained in physical fitness.
After graduating in 2013, I had this urge to further my education and looked into getting a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. I felt that going this route would get me back into the world of nuclear pharmacy, at a different capacity, as an exercise physiologist. The College of Charleston was the perfect fit, offering exactly what I was looking for. I applied and was accepted.
I credit Trident Tech for preparing me to want to further my education by opening my eyes to see that there is so much out there for me to learn. I was prepared so well that in my first year at the College of Charleston they realized that something needed to be done to help bridge the gap between the two schools so more students could benefit the way I did. I can proudly say that with hard work and communication with my advisor and department chair of Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston, Dr. Wes Dudgeon, and Bucky Buchanan, assistant director of fitness at College of Charleston, we were able to make small but significant pathways for future alumni of the Certified Fitness Specialists Program from Trident Tech so that the opportunity to learn about exercise science could be available for them as well.
While working part time at the College of Charleston as a recreation department attendant and group fitness instructor along with going to school as a full-time student, I was able to come in contact with many people who inspired me. I took an advanced strength and conditioning class taught by a Dr. John Sieverdes, which forever changed the course of my life and learning about exercise science. It was through Dr. Sieverdes that I learned about the possibility of going back to my home state of Texas and being able to do an internship for credit outside the college. I decided to take full advantage of the opportunities provided me and was eventually able to land an internship with two Division 1 football teams in their strength and condition departments. It was a grueling two and a half months of early 5:45 a.m. days, spending the majority of my 12-hour workday under Coach Chad Herring, and I loved every minute of it. Coach Herring taught me to not ever be afraid to use my voice and how important it was to always keep learning. I credit him and the great football athletes for giving me the best feeling of all when they called me Coach Sara.
Because of such a demand within the fitness industry for highly qualified individuals, more students will greatly benefit with both the Certified Fitness program at TTC and Exercise Science Degree Program at CofC. If one so chooses, he or she can continue on to medical school, physical therapy school, occupational therapy school, nursing and even dental school. The possibilities within these combined programs are endless and provide the student with many career options.
Today, I am a proud graduate of Trident Technical College and the College of Charleston. My education will not end here, as I will soon be pursuing my master’s in health, exercise, and sports science under the thesis program at The Citadel. None of this would have ever been possible without the help and support of caring people like Suzie Walters and Dr. Wes Dudgeon, the many other educators who crossed my path along my journey and of course the love and support of my family and friends. I am forever grateful to all of you for not only enriching my life with knowledge but for also giving me something that can never ever be taken away from me, my education.