Career Path of FSU Alum Shaped by Time as Student-Athlete

Sep 26, 2019 10:08 AM

By Sherry White

After Dr. Jaclyn Franzak ’13 had a bad experience with physical therapy as a kid, she was inspired to go into the profession. But it was her time at Frostburg State University as a student-athlete that influenced the path she would take to get there.

“I broke my wrist as a kid and had to go to a physical therapist,” said Franzak. “I hated it, I swore that I was going to become a physical therapist so no other kids had to have such a bad experience ever again.”

When it came time to choose a college, Franzak wasn’t entirely convinced to become a Bobcat, despite her father being a Frostburg alumnus.

“I wanted to do my own thing,” said Franzak. “But as time went on, they convinced me, and once I got here, I loved it.”

Franzak chose to become a student-athlete during her time at Frostburg State.

“I wanted to split my time between academics and swimming,” explained Franzak. “I knew I wanted to go on to grad school, so I knew I had to be careful about time management and obligations to the swim team.”

At first Franzak majored in exercise & sport science, but soon discovered the athletic training major through her swimming career.

“We didn’t have athletic trainers in my high school, so I had no idea that even existed,” Franzak said. “As a swimmer, I was introduced to this career and decided that was the direction I wanted to go in.”

As an athletic training major, Franzak learned hands-on skills doing applied clinical work and working with other Frostburg State athletes. She learned about the athletic training field from both sides of the position, being treated as an athlete and treating others.

When Franzak began her studies as an athletic trainer, she thought she wanted to go into the sports side of physical therapy, like many of her peers. However, through her hands-on learning, she realized she preferred the health care side of the field.

“Many of my peers came into physical therapy school thinking they loved sports and so they wanted to go into the sports side of physical therapy,” said Franzak, “but then they realized it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. I was ahead of the game because of my hands-on experience at FSU, so I knew I wanted to pursue the health care aspect of the field going in.”

Franzak graduated with her doctorate in physical therapy from Columbia University in May 2018 and is working in a trauma center in New York City. In the future, she may consider a master’s in public health to work on the policy side of health care, but for now she’s focusing on her athletic training certificate and enjoying the rewarding career that she has.

“I never took my athletic training certification because of grad school, so I need to do that in the spring,” said Franzak.” Right now, I feel like I’m in the appropriate place in life. I’m very content where I am.”

Reflecting on her time at Frostburg State, Franzak encourages students to take advantage of the various opportunities they have on campus.

“Get involved. I know it seems overwhelming, but it really makes a difference. Being involved in lots of things helped me figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. And it helped me learn time management, because being an athlete and a student, I was used to being pulled in lots of different directions.”

(Note: Learn about Frostburg’s Athletic Training program which is now a master’s degree.)