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Giving The Gift He Received

by Jim Scholl ’03, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement

How Ryan Hicks ’15 Found His Calling Through Xaverian Mentors and Community

Xaverian recently caught up with Ryan Hicks ’15, who, this spring, received a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Two resounding themes emerged from Ryan’s remarks - the power of the enduring, personal relationships that he developed at Xaverian, and the unique sense of community that Xaverian brought into his life.

X: What prompted you to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree?

RH: I wanted to pursue physical therapy because I wanted to have a job that allowed me to interact with people from all walks of life. I love the idea of being able to help people experience life without pain, give them the tools to return to the sport or hobby they love after an injury, and improve their quality of life no matter what they have experienced in the past. In return, I get the opportunity to meet new people every day and learn from their experiences, hear their stories, and gain new perspectives on life that I do not think I would be able to get with a different profession in health care.

X: What are your future career aspirations, now that you've earned this degree?

RH: My goal after school is to return to the greater Boston area and work in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. In this setting, I am hopeful that I will be able to help as many people as possible recover from injuries and return to their jobs, sports, or activities they love to do.

X: Who at Xaverian do you credit with pushing you to pursue this degree?

RH: There are two people at Xaverian who had a profound impact on my journey to this degree. The first member of the Xaverian community that opened my eyes to the physical therapy profession was my guidance counselor, Mr. Gunnoud (retired director of counseling). When I was beginning to apply to college, I told Mr. Gunnoud I did not want to study something that would make me sit behind a desk all day. He was the first person who mentioned PT to me, told me about the Quinnipiac program, encouraged me to apply there, and led me to be in the position I am in today. The second person who was a major influence throughout my time at Xaverian was Dr. Puclowski ’98 (campus ministry and science). I was fortunate enough to be in his biology class my first year at Xaverian. This class was the first time I was in a learning environment where I was encouraged to explore my interests and not shy away from challenges. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Puclowski taught me the value of compassion, service, and finding a vocation that leaves the world a better place. I will forever be grateful for the influence Dr. Puclowski had on my development as a student and as an individual.

X: What did Xaverian instill in you that led you to aspire to a degree like this?

RH: I believe one of the most important things Xaverian instilled in me was the value of community. When people come to a physical therapy office, I want them to feel safe and encouraged as they work toward their goals. There are going to be hard days where things do not seem to be getting better, but even in those moments they are not alone. I hope I am able to create an atmosphere that allows people to escape whatever challenges they are facing and be in a place where they can improve themself. Their rehab journey is not one they need to tackle alone and there will be support and encouragement every step of the way. I believe that Xaverian was the place that taught me how powerful a sense of community can be as we all work together toward a larger goal. This lesson is what pushed me to find a profession where I can always be building a community to help others.

X: If you had any advice for our young alumni or recently graduated Hawks, what would it be?

RH: One piece of advice I would give to young alumni or recent graduates would be to find a support system that pushes you to be better every day. I know there is no way I would be in the position I am in today without the help of my family, friends, and mentors. My support system is what helped me get through the long days of school and challenges of various clinical rotations. It is the people around me who inspired me to be a better person and always try to leave the world a better place today than it was yesterday.
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A private, Catholic, college preparatory day school for boys in grades 7-12. The Boston area prep school offers a rigorous academic curriculum, a well-developed campus ministry program focused on faith, character, and leadership, and a proud athletic tradition featuring competitive Division 1 high school athletics in the Catholic Conference.