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Solving the question of purpose: Austin Adams

Alumni Austin Adams works with a patient
Alumni Austin Adams works with a patient in vestibular therapy

Austin Adams recently landed a position that he has been working toward, not always directly, for the better part of the past decade.

He’d made an earlier start at Boise State some years back, stepped away, then returned to his education through the College of Western Idaho, completing his associate’s degree about 10 years ago. At the same time, he took on some Boise State classes, then hopped over to the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Kinesiology, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science in 2016.

It was in a biomechanics lecture that he first learned of vestibular therapy, or rehabilitation exercises to help patients manage dizziness and balance issues. By that point, he had completed a research fellowship and was leaning toward a career in research. A talk by a speaker who discussed balance issues changed everything.

“I saw this guy and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting,’” he said. “That changed the way I saw it.”

He changed focus, and with the support of advisers and instructors, incorporated new classes into his plan to get into physical therapy school. He and a cohort of Boise State grads, some of whom he’d been in classes with since College of Western Idaho days, subsequently shared gas costs by commuting to the physical therapy program at Idaho State University in Pocatello from 2017 to 2020. He spent weeks in Eastern Idaho in a small apartment and weekends back in the Treasure Valley with his kids and wife.

Vestibular therapy is a specialty, and Adams came out of school as the pandemic bore down, crushing the economy and shutting down what few positions may have come open. Following work at a couple of Boise outpatient orthopedic clinics, he has recently taken a position with St. Luke’s Health System — in the niche field for which he has prepared, helping patients with inner ear problems and conditions having to do with dizziness, vertigo and balance. Work within the system, over time, will offset his student loans.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “It’s what I wanted to do. You’re collecting all of these little puzzle pieces and trying to put it all together. There’s a sleuth, Sherlock Holmes aspect to it.

“This is where I wanted to be, to stay right there.”

As with other Bronco kinesiology students, Adams credits tenacious, committed advisers and instructors for supporting his success; one of his former clinical instructors tipped him to the St. Luke’s job.

“She knew that I was really passionate about it,” he said. “It was a good connection.

“The people that I worked with there (at Boise State) … helped me a lot.”

He is stunned by the growth of the program.

“The Kinesiology Department was pretty small when I was there,” he said. “It was fun. I knew all the majors, because there were only like 30 of us.”