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Shawn Winans always knew as he struggled through high school that he wouldn’t be happy with a 9 to 5 desk job. Joining the Marines after graduating high school gave him the chance to decide his future. After serving, he found his passion for teaching other soldiers in the important fields of health and physical education and chose FSU for the small, close-knit family feel of the campus.
Taylor Watkins didn’t always want to be a teacher, but one movie changed her future forever. “My mom works in education and would tell me that I would be a great teacher, but it wasn’t until I was in high school and saw the movie Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank that I realized I could make a huge difference in children’s lives.”
Clayton has been enamored with FSU since he was a senior in high school since a friend recommended the university’s athletic training program. While he was initially hesitant to go to a rural school, he quickly found out that Frostburg University gave him ample opportunity to develop his career. Clayton enjoys the small town feel and smaller class sizes. “Plus,” he explains, “You are only two hours from D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh!”
Makayla always knew she wanted to be active in sports, but an injury in high school seemed like it would sideline her dreams. She drew from her own experience to work towards a career as an athletic trainer so she could help other students who were injured and afraid. Makayla has accepted a graduate assistant position at Springfield College in Massachusetts. “I couldn’t have gotten into my dream master’s program without the support of the faculty. They have taught me so much, believed in me, encouraged me, and made me a better person.”
Shawn Winans could be described as a nontraditional student. After struggling in high school, he joined the Marine Corps to give himself time to decide. “I knew I didn’t want a desk job, but I didn’t know exactly what that meant, so I joined the military to give myself time to decide while serving my country. After I was honorably discharged, I had the GI Bill to pay for my education, and I knew I wanted to be a health and physical education teacher. I taught other soldiers in the military, and I loved seeing that spark in their eyes when they finally grasped a really challenging concept. I chose health and physical education since I play lacrosse and have a passion for fitness.”
“I chose FSU after visiting the campus and feeling the family environment here. Everyone is so nice here, and they are always willing to help you out no matter what. The military is a closeknit community, and I knew if I was going to be successful, I needed to feel like I was a part of a similar culture. FSU was this for me. You know, it’s not even that the mountains and campus are gorgeous. I chose FSU because I joined the Lacrosse team and was captain for three years. I was a Bobcat ambassador, and I got the very best of the College of Education as I took classes in both the Department of Educational Professions and the Department of Kinesiology and Recreation. The faculty in both departments are some of the most professional and passionate people I have had the pleasure of meeting.”
Shawn is excited about his future career in education. “I have been offered a job after graduation and have already signed my contract! Schools know that the FSU College of Education produces excellent educators who are excited to make a difference in children’s lives.”
“I didn’t want to be a teacher when I was growing up; I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. My mom works in education and would tell me that I would be a great teacher, but it wasn’t until I was in high school and saw the movie Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank that I realized I could make a huge difference in children’s lives. I always hated math in elementary school until my fourth-grade teacher began tutoring me and really working after hours with me on math. I remember the moment when it finally clicked. I was so excited and proud of myself. Consequently, math became my favorite subject! Later in high school, I thought if one teacher could make that kind of impact on me, especially when I dreaded math class, then I could make that kind of difference for someone, too.”
Taylor believes it is important to imagine your life at a university before you choose one. “I could have gone to a Division I (D1) school closer to home, but sometimes there are so many people in a classroom or lecture hall that you can’t get the quality one-on-one experience and attention that I knew FSU could offer. I knew that by choosing FSU, I would have smaller class sizes and still have the same opportunities to volunteer and make friends like at a D1 school. I’ve been a resident hall director, tutor, and the graduate assistant for the Office of Clinical and Field Experiences. These opportunities would have been more difficult at larger schools. I also feel like the educators here are willing to go above and beyond for their students. I have made so many lifelong friendships with them. This support system has made the entire four years of undergrad and two years of grad school feel like a family environment, which is why I chose FSU and am proud to be a Bobcat.”
As a senior in high school, Clayton Washington became enamored with FSU. “While on the wrestling team, my friend and teammate’s brother reached out to me and first told me about FSU. He was in the athletic training program and knew that I really wanted to be an athletic trainer. I can remember him telling me how great the program was and that I would love Frostburg. I was hesitant to be in such a rural area because I thought there wouldn’t be many opportunities for me to work with athletic teams, but boy, was I wrong.”
Like most students, Clayton believes it’s essential to find a school in a town where you can enjoy living. “If you don’t enjoy the town you are going to go to school in, don’t go there, because you may not be successful. I love Frostburg and am happy that I chose to come here. It’s quiet so you can really focus on your studies, the class sizes are small, and the teachers are determined to help you succeed. Plus, you are only two hours from D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, which makes it easy not to feel so isolated.”
As a fourth-year student at FSU, athletic training students work hands-on with athletes and patients. “Even during the pandemic, when athletes weren’t traveling, the Theater department got involved with our department, and we were tested in real-world scenarios. The student I worked with was such a good actor and was crying and everything – I almost forgot it was acting. Even though the faculty wanted us to work with actual patients and athletes, they improvised during the pandemic, so we received that hands-on training that our program is all about. It’s one thing to study about injuries from a book, but it’s completely different in real life when someone is in pain and looking to you for help.”
Makayla Parris played volleyball and field hockey, as well as swam in high school but was injured from a concussion while playing. “It was really scary. I always felt like I had to be my own advocate when I was injured, and I shouldn’t have. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be active in sports, but with this injury, my future in sports might be jeopardized. Becoming an athletic trainer and helping others who are injured, scared, and need a patient advocate is rewarding. I get to be the hero I really needed in high school for someone else. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
FSU became a second home for Makayla. “I just fell in love with the area. I’m from downstate and had never really been to Western Maryland, so I didn’t even realize what this area had to offer. Now, four years later, I love hiking and just being outdoors, especially because there are so many options to create your own fun outdoors. The beauty of the campus and town sealed the deal for me. Not only is it gorgeous here, but FSU is so affordable, and I know I will be thankful in 10 years when I don’t have student loans.”
Makayla represents many Bobcats who continue their education after graduation and has accepted a graduate assistant position at Springfield College in Massachusetts. “I couldn’t have gotten into my dream master’s program without the support of the faculty. They have taught me so much, believed in me, encouraged me, and made me a better person.”