MOUNT OLIVE - When the NHL lockout prematurely ended Eric Bourgeois’ internship with the Carolina Hurricanes, many would have forgiven him for giving up on his chances of achieving his dream career. Instead, Bourgeois focused on the positives and worked through the obstacles to complete his doctorate in physical therapy.
Bourgeois graduated from University of Mount Olive in 2009 majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. He had always known he wanted to follow a path in the medicine field, but hadn’t come across a branch that clicked with him. However, the recurring theme in Bourgeois’ life of transforming a negative situation into a positive one surfaced in his junior year, when he and his father were involved in a vehicle accident. Although both men were fine, a routine check-up at a physical therapist in Goldsboro exposed Eric to his future career.
“This was what sparked my interest,” he shared. “It was interesting to see how the PT assessed and examined me and determined how he would help me (which he did). I asked the PT if he would allow me to observe or shadow him and the other therapists at the clinic. I was then able to see the profound affect that physical therapists can have on patients’ lives and how rewarding the profession could be. Physical therapists are able to see the progression of patients from beginning to end and that is a characteristic that most medical professions do not have. I knew that I wanted to be a healthcare professional that helped people every day and that is what physical therapy is all about.”
Bourgeois’ transition from University of Mount Olive to ECU, where he completed his doctoral program, was easier than he first thought. The PT school was located in an area about the size of University of Mount Olive, giving the feel of the small college experience he had grown to love. Moreover, the class sizes were small too. He slid right into his old routine, while some of his classmates struggled to adjust.
His doctorate wasn’t easy, but Bourgeois stuck through it and has grown as both a professional, and a person.
“I would say the most valuable thing I learned while earning my doctorate was the importance of perseverance and dedication. There were many times during the curriculum when I was lost and felt like giving up. There were countless days of endless studying, frustration, and stress. During those times I had to stay positive, focused, and committed. I knew that I could make it through, and that when I did it would all be worth every bit of the blood, sweat, and tears. I knew that I would be helping people for the rest of my life. I knew I would be a doctor of physical therapy.”
Bourgeois’ time at Mount Olive was pivotal in setting him upon the path to his doctorate. It gave him direction, and provided him with the base knowledge to take him through his graduate studies. He is grateful for the education he received at MOC, and in particular, his mentor and professor, Dr. Mikael Cariveau.
“I learned so much from Dr. Cariveau and he helped me in so many ways during my time at MOC. He instilled in me a sense of confidence, motivation, and taught me to strive to succeed. I was able to take all that he taught me to the DPT program at East Carolina University.”
Bourgeois currently works at Goldsboro Physical Therapy, where he intends to stay long term, with the goal of becoming a partner. He is able to work with a variety of patients ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. As well as giving thanks to the College, Eric also thanks his wife Meagan, and his parents, David and Rosa, for being a driving force behind his goals.
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.