Most of us take for granted our ability to do simple, everyday movements like standing, bending, and stretching. But, Alaa “Al” Al-Shrouf knows that being able to move easily isn’t something everyone is able to do. The exercise science, wellness, and sports major, who also has minors in biology and psychology, plans to become a physical therapist. He was motivated to do so after watching his father suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the spine vertebrae to fuse.
“He doesn’t have any flexing motion or extension motion in his back. He still puts in 60 hours of work each week just to put food on the table. He could never really afford physical therapy, so I thought that was one of the things I could help with,” says Al.
Al, who is from Howell, New Jersey, is a member of Georgian Court’s men’s track & field team, throwing “pretty much everything you can throw,” he says. In April, he was named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Men’s Field Athlete of the Week. The wear and tear of weight-lifting and throwing discus, shotput, and hammer have led to painful injuries for him over the years. He wants to help others overcome their setbacks, just as he did.
“What pushed me even more, other than the personal matter of being a PT, is actually getting injured over the years and trying to figure out the best way to optimize my performance,” he says. Once he finishes his degree, which will take at least three more years of school in a physical therapy program, he wants to own a strength, conditioning, and physical therapy clinic.
“I do want to be a business owner. I want to work with athletes. I want to work with the general population. I want to work and help people become the strongest versions of themselves,” he says.
One of the things he’ll take away from Georgian Court is the relationships with the people who taught him along the way, he says.
“I think because the classes are small, you can get to know the professor on a human level rather than in one of those huge seminars. That’s one of the things that separates Georgian Court from many other places.”
Story contributed by Gwen Moran.