Donald Gibson of St. Louis is a Southeast Missouri State University athletic training major who is gaining real-world, hands-on experience during his internship with MedSport, a sports medicine facility in the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.
There, Gibson works side-by-side with doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers to help non-operative and postoperative patients as they work their way through the rehabilitation process.
“I have learned so much since starting at MedSport and feel that it has helped me evaluate injuries, create rehabilitation programs and increase my social skills. This is my first internship and the furthest I have ever been away from home. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone that was needed, and I feel it has made me a better health care professional,” he said.
Although he is keeping his options open, after graduation Gibson plans to pursue education
in graduate school so he can be a high school teacher and an athletic trainer for
after-school sports programs.
“During high school, I saw many injuries on the field. I thought it was cool how my injured friends recovered with the help of our athletic trainer. I knew that I wanted to be the person that could help recovering athletes so that they could get back out on the field and enjoy their sport once again,” he said.
At Southeast, Gibson gains professional experience working with the University’s athletic trainers at least 20 hours a week.
“Southeast has given me the opportunity to learn with a hands-on approach,” he said. “My teachers in the classroom are amazing and have taught me so much, but without the hands-on approach I would only have half of my education. This has made me ready to go out into the real world with my skills and has better prepared me for my career.”
On campus, Gibson also meets with fellow Student Athletic Trainers’ Association members to discuss and participate in educational opportunities. This year, the organization took a trip to Atlanta to attend the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association Conference, where they networked with other athletic training students from the Conference and attended seminars about hot topics in the field of athletic training. The club also regularly participates in community service projects in Cape Girardeau.
“I enjoy the relationships that I have made with my fellow athletic training students and the staff. I would not trade my education or friendships that I have made for anything,” he said.
In his spare time with friends, Gibson said he enjoys sporting events.
“It doesn’t matter if we are at a Southeast event, watching (a game) at a friend’s house, or watching (a game) at a sports bar. As long as there is a game on and friends are around, I am having a good time,” he said.
Gibson is obviously a huge fan of sports. He has played sports throughout his life, including on intramural soccer and softball teams at Southeast, and he said he especially enjoys watching the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Rams play. He and his friends even take road trips to attend the teams’ games.
“Last semester, a couple buddies and I left for Nashville in November to watch the St. Louis Blues play an away game,” he said. “It was so much fun that we scheduled another trip to go back to watch a second one in January. Mixing travel and sports is the perfect combination in my eyes.”
While in Tennessee, Gibson took time to explore and adventure.
“Nashville is so friendly and surrounded with country music. I also loved the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. While there, I stayed in a log cabin, bungee jumped, took a helicopter ride and was surrounded by nature,” he said.
Although he enjoys traveling, Gibson said he also has a great time in Cape Girardeau.
“Being in Cape Girardeau is so much fun, and over the summers I sometimes catch myself wishing school was back in session. I love the things that have happened in my life and wouldn’t change a thing. I’m excited to see what the future has in store,” he said.
Gibson encourages other students to participate in the opportunities the University offers.
“Take advantage of the short time that you have at Southeast, because every minute will benefit you later in life,” he said. “Focusing on your education will open up many doors and will provide you with lifelong friends. My education and the friendships that I have made at Southeast will stay with me for a lifetime.”