George Mason University

News at Mason

Alumnus says Mason put him on track for a successful career

July 18, 2019   /   by John Hollis

Paul Adam

Paul Adam says he’ll carry the memories of his time as a student-athlete at George Mason University with him for the rest of his days.

He credits his four years of competing for Mason’s cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams and his time as a Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet for creating the foundation for the promising future ahead of him as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS). Adam graduated in August 2018 and has since passed the national exam to become a CTRS and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“Track not only helped me pay for college,” he said, “but it developed a lot of personal skills within physical rehabilitation, time management, the power of discipline and holistic well-being.”

CTRSs work to improve the mental, emotional and physical well-being of individuals with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. The field figures to become even more critical in the near future with an aging population whose members will increasingly require recreational therapy to improve their declining physical and mental abilities.

Brenda Wiggins, the academic program coordinator for the Recreation Management Program within the College of Education and Human Development’s School of Recreation, Health and Tourism, said Adam is a perfect example of how internships at Mason can lead to careers.

Adam felt so strongly about what his Mason experience had done for him that he contacted Wiggins after passing the national certification exam to ask when he could supervise an intern and begin giving back to both his alma mater and the profession.

“I know Paul will be an excellent mentor,” Wiggins said, “just as he was a hard-working scholar-athlete and member of the ROTC.”

The son of two Army parents, Adam chose to emphasize therapeutic recreation because he felt a strong desire to help others in the military. He earned hands-on experience last summer when working as a behavioral health intern at the John Randolph Medical Center, a psychiatric facility just outside Richmond, Virginia, for civilian and military personnel.

After assessing their needs for physical, mental and affective recovery, Adam helped each patient develop the necessary skills and guided them in mapping out their individual goals and devising a plan for health and leisure activities.

“It’s always cool to see how far they’ve come from when they enter the hospital to when they leave,” he said. “That’s what gives me the most satisfaction.”