Injury recovery inspires career path

Alumni Laureate Scholar finds success in physical therapy

Aaron-flores-als

By Megan Schmidt ‘07

For many young athletes, a dislocated shoulder or a broken leg could be the beginning of the end of a promising future in sports.

For Aaron Flores, however, those exact injuries were the beginning of a new career path.

The 18-year-old BGSU freshman is an applied health science major, studying to one day become a physical therapist.

“I played three sports in high school and I had quite a few injuries,” Flores said. “I dislocated my shoulder during a football drill, and after surgery to reconstruct my shoulder, I was in physical therapy for six months.”

After healing from the shoulder injury, Flores broke his leg — and went right back to the physical therapist.

“Spending so much time in that physical therapy environment, I started to become really interested in the scientific and anatomical aspects of sports and what effects they have on the body,” Flores said. “So my injuries actually did have a positive side to them, because it helped me recognize a career path I want to take.”

“So my injuries actually did have a positive side to them, because it helped me recognize a career path I want to take.”

Sports have always been a big part of life in Flores' family, who lived in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Georgia while he was growing up. It was on a drive through Ohio to his brother's summer league baseball game two summers ago that Flores first saw the BGSU campus, he said.

“We were driving from Lima to Cleveland and my parents both went to BGSU, so they said, 'We're going to see the campus,'” Flores remembers. “I'd never been there before, and when I saw it, I thought it looked great.”

When it came time to apply for college, Flores still had BGSU on the brain. And when he heard about the Alumni Laureate Scholarship (ALS), he sent in an application and hoped for the best.

“I'm the youngest of four, so I knew I should try for everything, scholarship-wise,” he said. “I actually misunderstood and thought at first that the Alumni Laureate Scholarship was just for book money, so when I found out it was for full tuition, I was pretty excited.”

Flores just wrapped up his first semester. At first, he said, moving to Ohio required a little of an adjustment.

“I went from living about 15 minute outside of New York City to Bowling Green, so it's a little bit different, but I do like it out here.”

Becoming a physical therapist will require schooling beyond a bachelor's degree. Flores is grateful to have his next few years of education financed so that he'll have time to save and plan for graduate school, he said.

“I'm looking to get my doctorate, possibly right after I graduate from Bowling Green,” Flores said. “I'm really interested in Rutgers University, because that's back home in New Jersey.”

The scholarship funds also mean Flores can devote more time to student activities. So far, he has joined the Gerontology Student Association and the Pre-Physical Therapy Club, and has also participated in some intramural sports.

His favorite part of the ALS program, though, has been getting to know his fellow scholars and alumni.

During homecoming weekend, Flores and other Alumni Laureate Scholars have the opportunity to mingle with alumni in a very special way — by giving them free rides from the Mileti Alumni Center to the stadium.

“I met so many great people that weekend. One guy I talked to said he's worked for the CIA,” Flores said.

“I'm really happy to be part of ALS. Just the amount of people I've met in such a short period of time is amazing. It's been such a welcoming atmosphere and that's helped me so much in my transition to college.”