What warms your heart when you think of your time at Scheck Hillel?
I was very fortunate to meet my lifelong friends at Scheck Hillel. We have always kept in touch throughout the years and continue to have a strong bond.
Was there a teacher who had a positive impact and made you feel like you could do it all?
Mrs. Steiner (math) was always in my corner. Although I was not the best student in the class, she always encouraged me to do more and played a role in helping me achieve my goals.
Do you feel like your days as a Scheck Hillel student had an impact on your adult life and your choices? How so?
I do! The Jewish education that was passed on to me is now being passed on to my children even though we are not living in the South Florida area and don't have access to Hillel's educational system. We continue to be very traditional in keeping the Jewish holidays and teachings. I have also been able to incorporate my extended family in the Chicagoland area to embrace the Jewish traditions more so.
What educational path did you follow?
Once I completed high school at Hillel, I attended Florida State University in Tallahassee and earned degrees in sports medicine and exercise physiology. I became a certified athletic trainer (and even helped out covering Hillel athletics) immediately after college. As I continued to pursue my dream of becoming a physician, I attended Ross University School of Medicine and began residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I then went on to complete a fellowship in Sports Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
What is your current profession, and where do you work? How did you come to work in this field?
I am currently working in the Chicago suburbs as a sports and spine physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. As an expert in the musculoskeletal system, I take care of people with all kinds of injuries, whether chronic or acute. My goal is to get my patients back to a functional level where they are comfortable performing all of their activities the way they would like to. I am also teaching residents and medical students from multiple hospitals and universities in the Chicagoland area and am on faculty at Rush University Medical Center's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department. I decided to go into sports medicine after injuring myself on a ski trip my senior year of high school. I learned a valuable lesson because of this tragedy. I unfortunately had to forfeit the second half of my varsity basketball season. But when one door closes, another one will open! This led me to find my passion and kept me focused on achieving my goal of becoming a sports medicine physician. This path ultimately brought me to Chicago where I met my wife and have a wonderful family up in the Midwest (although the rumors are true, it is really really cold up here).
What is most rewarding about the work you do? What are you passionate about?
The fact that I get to help people everyday achieve what they thought they could not do anymore is a huge satisfaction. Whether that means being able to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night or play professional sports, it is a huge treat to hear the words "Thanks Doc. I am now able to do what I couldn't do last week".
Looking back, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
As an 18 year old, I heard the words "no" and "can't" way too much. I would say, always think of the positive. Use every moment as a learning experience (good or bad!). Don't shy away from your dream, even though some may think it is not achievable. If that is something you want, then do what you can to achieve that goal. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. And most importantly, enjoy yourself as nothing is possible unless YOU are happy.