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Arnold School of Public Health

Physical therapy student wins scholarship from National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation

February 20, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Brooks Herring, a 2018 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science program and a current student in the same department’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, has been awarded the 2019 Challenge Scholarship from the National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation. This scholarship is awarded to Association members who are seeking either undergraduate or graduate degrees in a strength and conditioning-related field. The Foundation awards scholarships annually in seven categories as part of the Association’s mission to provide funding for education and research activities that enhance the practical application of strength and conditioning.

Born on an air force base in Louisiana, Herring continued the family tradition of military service by serving in the United States Navy for six years. He deployed to Iraq and Africa during his time on active duty and then deployed to Afghanistan for two years as an Army civilian.

“After returning home from Afghanistan in June of 2013, I struggled to find a place in life and bounced around between jobs,” Herring says. “Careers as a weapons specialist weren't plentiful, especially near home, and I couldn't seem to fall in love with another purpose.”

He tried his hand at small business ownership – opening a barbeque restaurant with his father in Columbia – but it wasn’t quite the right fit. Then, as a result of a vocational assessment at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and encouragement from his brother who had recently returned to school after retiring from the Army, Herring took the plunge.

“I decided that I wanted to continue serving my country by becoming a physical therapist and treating my brothers and sisters returning home,” says Herring, who graduated from his bachelor’s program Summa Cum Laude with Leadership Distinction. “I have decided to use this new opportunity to develop fitness-based rehabilitation programs for veterans recovering from combat trauma.”

During his undergraduate program, Herring worked as an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer at a local physical fitness company and contributed to the tactical program during his practicum at Apex Athletic Performance. He’s built on these experiences and the knowledge he gained through his coursework to launch Run PHASE, a non-profit organization that works to physically, mentally and spiritually rehabilitate veterans who have been severely injured or are disabled using a mix of physical therapy, strength training and peer counseling.  Meanwhile, he continues to engage in service and leadership opportunities (e.g., Student Veterans Association, Student Government), play music professionally and dedicate himself to his family – two sons and a fiancée who is currently deployed to the Middle East.

After his second graduation from the exercise science department in 2021, Herring plans to pursue his third Arnold School degree: a Ph.D. in Exercise Science (ranked No. 1 in the nation) with a focus in Rehabilitation Sciences. He’ll use his three UofSC degrees to continue along the path he has already started down: helping veterans recover through comprehensive rehabilitation programs.


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