Switch hitter

From sports medicine to fire and rescue, Wright State student’s career path changed for the better

Ryan Clark was inspired to pursue a career in emergency medical services after connecting with the Fairborn Fire Department during a course at Wright State.

Ryan Clark was a sports science major, happily matriculating through his academic requirements and on pace to graduate from Wright State University in three years.

Then something shifted and he changed his career choice – and today he’s never been happier on his new path.

As a three-sport letterman at his high school in Ayersvlle, near Defiance, Clark was initially drawn to studying sports science at Wright State.

“I played football, basketball and ran track for all four years,” he said. “I pushed toward medicine because I had a love for medicine and a love for sports.”

He enrolled at Wright State and dived into his studies, which included a sports medicine concentration.

But during the Fall 2023 Semester, was able to ride along with the Fairborn Fire Department as part of his coursework. The experience opened his eyes and his mind to a path he had never considered before.

“When I was with those fire and rescue people, they saw the darkest part of people’s lives,” Clark said. “Everybody deep inside wants to help, to be a friendly face.”

He said the Fairborn crews helped make the days a little better for those who called in with an emergency.

Clark had planned to go into physical therapy, but after his experience with the fire department, he shifted his emphasis from sports to the general community to be that helper, a friendly face.

He is already a helper in the academic arena as a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board of the College of Health, Education and Human Services. After serving last year as the board’s communications and outreach coordinator, Clark is the president this year.

The 12-member board is encouraged to be the eyes and ears of the college to provide insights into students’ needs, while working closely with Dean Jim Denniston, Ph.D.

“I’m thankful that we students have a voice,” Clark said, adding that Denniston connects well with students. “We love him for it,” Clark said.

“It is no surprise that Ryan serves as president of the college’s Dean’s Student Advisory Board,” Denniston said. “His years of playing high school sports instilled in him the ability to excel in team settings and well prepared him for the leadership roles that he currently occupies.”

Clark is on track to graduate in the spring of 2024 after three years. He has applied to the City of Dayton’s fire and rescue training academy and realizes the hiring process is long.

“I made a significant change in my career choice,” he said. “Nobody plans for that, but Wright State showed me what I wanted to do.”

Clark credits Rebekah Bower, program director in athletic training and faculty advisor in the sports science and sports medicine concentration, for connecting him with the Fairborn crew.

“Our athletic training degree program has a long history of working closely with Fairborn EMS,” Bower said. “I suggested he complete an observation experience with this department. Ryan is a highly motivated student and jumped at the chance. It was very exciting to see that this experience ignited his passion for emergency medical services and has set him on his career path. The EMS field is getting a rock star.”

“Wright State has been great,” Clark said. “I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.”

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