It’s 15,000 km from Sydney to Rochester (around 10,000 miles for my imperial system users) – I think it’s safe to say I’m a long way from home. Although, I’m actually not really from Sydney… I’m about an hour South of the big city in a tiny town called Wombarra. I just say Sydney because nobody knows my small town north of Wollongong, with just under 400 people on a private little beach in New South Wales.
Being so far away from home affected my decision on where I wanted to go to college immensely. I moved away from home the day after my high school graduation and went straight to Johnstown, PA, where I had a spot on a hockey team. Unfortunately, due to a series of setbacks and injuries, I never made the roster so I decided to go down south to Atlanta where I could play junior hockey. Since then it has all been a blur of hockey, gym sessions, video sessions, and community events, all revolving around hockey. I finally ended up in Philadelphia, where I spent the last 6 months before coming to Nazareth. I wanted a place that had a campus that felt like a home away from home for me. I wanted to be warm in the summer, fresh in Autumn, crispy cold in winter, and just right in spring. I grew up on the beach, which made me wish for snow everyday. I am extremely grateful for what I had growing up: I surfed almost every day, played beach cricket with my friends and street hockey when I could, but I never got to see snow. The coldest it got at my house was 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
My decision to come to Nazareth College came in several stages. Early March rolled around as I was playing junior hockey in West Chester (near Philadelphia) and the Nazareth coaches were at a showcase I was playing in New Hampshire. I had a good game against a team from Boston and the assistant coach spoke to me after the game about my future plans, what I wanted to study, and where I wanted to go, before exchanging contact information. At the time I was being recruited heavily by 5 or 6 NCAA DIII hockey programs all over the east coast but, after speaking to the coaches from Nazareth and doing my research, it was a no brainer for me. I set up a visit to confirm my love for the idea of attending Nazareth College in upstate New York.
8 inches of snow blessed the ground the night before I made the trip up to Rochester. The shell on the campus was silent, white, and so elegant – it was beautiful. The first thing I did was carve my fingers into the crystal snow, then I rolled up a snow ball to launch into a tree. I felt like a little kid on Christmas. Due to all snow on the ground, my tour guide navigated us around campus in the warm, cosy, and surprisingly vibrant tunnels. They were alive with so many people from all different backgrounds and classes, all in a hurry to get to class. The murals and paintings lit up the tunnels and brought an artistic twist to a rather plain pathway to class, and to our tour around Nazareth’s campus.
I really wanted a school where I felt I could see myself spending the next 4 years of my life playing hockey and studying physical therapy. Nazareth’s reputable DPT (3+3) program felt like just the right fit and it would enable me to graduate in 6 years with my Doctorate. After conducting some online research, I discovered Nazareth’s 3 + 3 program boasts an incredible 95% graduation rate as well as a flawless 100% employment rate only 6 months after graduating. This was icing on the cake for me. Australia has an untapped market for physical therapists and having a highly recognized international doctorate degree will put me ahead of the pack and make me to be a frontrunner for all internships and job interviews. It’s a long time away from home but, after my tour, I knew I could see myself spending the next 6 years of my adult life here. Multiple factors played an influential role in my decision to come to Nazareth, but if I was to give out any advice, it would be that you need to explore all of your options, take the time you need to make an educated decision, and think about the future while still enjoying the present.