“Pretty soon after I graduated from high school in Detroit in 2011, I joined the U.S. Air Force. I served six years while stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. I did two deployments—the first to Oman, Afghanistan, and the second one was to Qatar.
I knew about the military because my dad served, as well. Growing up, we knew that my parents couldn’t financially provide for me to go to college. So we thought that the military was a great way to do it—not only to get amazing life experiences but to receive benefits like the GI Bill so that I could go to school and have help to pay for it.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do right away coming out of high school. I thought that joining the military would just give me some perspective and maybe some direction, which it did because my interest in physical therapy grew while I was serving.
While in the military, I came out to Utah with a friend on leave, and we went to all the National Parks. This is when I was deciding whether or not I wanted to get out of the military. I knew I wanted to go to physical therapy school and when we visited Utah, I fell in love with the scenery and all that Utah has to offer outdoors. So I applied to the University of Utah, got accepted, then earned my degree in kinesiology in 2020. I started physical therapy school here at the U in the spring of last year.
When you’re in the military, you work, become friends and interact with people from so many different backgrounds, ways of life and different ways of thinking. It helps you really grow as a person and makes you more open-minded and accepting of new ideas. There’s no better experience than that if you’re going to work in health care. You can expect to see people from all different walks of life, different backgrounds and different experiences. It translates perfectly into health care or working as a physical therapist. As a student, people in my cohort are from all over the country. Our students are diverse. They have unique backgrounds, various family lives and different socioeconomic statuses. This experience is a great way to help you grow as a person, and it contributes to who I am today.”
—Cody Crane, 2022 Student Veteran of the Year