As a College of Health Care Sciences freshman, Kenneth Persaud spoke to NSU donors at the 2015 annual Big Thank You luncheon. Kenneth is majoring in athletic training and is a recipient of a Hand Up Scholarship, President's Scholarship, and Dean's Scholarship. Here is his speech:
"Good afternoon everyone! Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for inviting me to share my story.
"My name is Ken Persaud, and I would like to begin by thanking all the donors here today. I especially want to thank Mr. Keith Brown for giving me the Hand Up Scholarship, and truly giving me a hand up, helping to get me closer to my aspirations. Although all you may not realize it, all of you donors out there are giving a hand up to all the students who have received scholarships. Not only are you helping them financially; you are also giving them fuel to pursue their goals. And that feeling of knowing that someone is fueling our dreams is indescribable.
"Personally, when my mom and I opened the letter from the financial aid office and read that I received the Hand Up Scholarship, we were beyond words, because it meant that I now have someone else in my corner helping me fulfill my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
"That has been my dream ever since I had my first sports-related injury when I played basketball in high school. I still remember feeling that pop as I rolled my ankle coming down from a rebound and then seeing the swelling that ensued right after and not being able to walk. Then the thought that I would be out for a couple of weeks and I wouldn't get to play with my team was the worst part. So when I finally went to see the doctor, although the news wasn't the best, I was astonished that he simply palpated or felt around my ankle, did a simple test and asked what happened, and confidently said that I tore three ligaments in my ankle.
"As a stubborn athlete, I didn't want to hear that so I asked “are you sure?” and proceeded to lie to him, saying that I was feeling better. So he recommended that I get an MRI just to be safe. And when the results came back, they showed that I had grade 3 sprains to all three of the lateral ligaments on my ankle. Now I couldn't argue! But I still was shocked at the fact that he knew that from taking a history, palpating, and performing a special test. So while I was out for six weeks, I began looking into exactly what an orthopedic surgeon was and I was impressed.
"The aspect of this profession that truly amazes me is that an orthopedic surgeon can physically fix someone through surgery, whether it’s repairing an ACL or putting in metal plates around a bone. I found it fascinating. At that point I decided that I want to become an orthopedic surgeon.
"Now came the hard part: figuring out the path I needed to take. The first step was for me to figure out where I wanted to spend my first four years as an undergrad. I strenuously debated whether to go to FSU or even Kansas State where my uncles live, but then NSU poked its head into the picture. Growing up less than 15 minutes away from here and volunteering at the Alvin Sherman library while in high school, I saw how nice the campus was. After a bit of research, I learned how highly it was ranked as a school. I knew that ultimately NSU would give me a better chance of achieving my goal.
"Once I enrolled in NSU, a couple things struck me which made me love this school even more. The first was that all my classes had fewer than 30 students in them, which allowed us to have a more personal relationship with our professors. Then I learned that NSU offered a dual admission program, which – once accepted – guarantees me a seat in the College of Osteopathic Medicine as long as I maintain a 3.3 GPA. This was the cherry on top for me.
"The last step was deciding my major. At first I was dead set on being a biology major and going down the classic med school path, but then I discovered that NSU offered athletic training as a major. I remembered how cool my high school athletic trainer was and decided to take an athletic training course just to see what athletic training was all about. And when I met Dr. Elizabeth Swann, she opened my eyes to the true scope of athletic training.
"I learned that my high school athletic trainer wasn't unique; all athletic trainers have the same knowledge as orthopedic surgeons when it comes to evaluation and rehabilitation. But what sets athletic trainers apart is their power to prevent injuries. Through Dr. Swann's class I got the opportunity to shadow a local athletic trainer and saw firsthand how he was able to help prevent an athlete from rolling her ankle, or from tearing his Achilles tendon, and the list goes on. I knew I would be missing out if I just was a biology major, so I became an athletic training major. Through this program, I will have over 700 rotation hours, filled with hands-on work. So when I start medical school, I will already have four years of patient care under my belt, as well as being a certified athletic trainer.
"The path I have decided to take is all possible because of the scholarships I have received.
"All my life, it has just been me and my mom. My mom came from Guyana, and started a new life here. She had a huge financial burden on her shoulders and she worked two jobs just to make ends meet. Paying for college was a terrifying prospect. In addition to worrying about the financial cost, the transition from high school to college has been hard because we didn't really know much about the process, or the best approach to writing essays and things like that.
"Thanks to my mom’s determination, and my great grades, getting accepted to NSU marks a new chapter in our family’s history. I am the first generation to go to college. But being able to actually attend, that is where all of you, and specifically, Mr. Brown, come in.
"So once again I want to say THANK YOU. One day, I hope to follow in your footsteps and give a young student a hand up so that he too can fulfill his dream.