TRYSTIN BURGER doesn’t dawdle. Though just a sophomore on the soccer pitch, she’ll graduate with a degree in health sciences in May of 2021. In her first collegiate game for the Yellow Jackets in 2019 she scored twice. She finished her associate degree while still in high school in Granby, Massachusetts, through a dual-enrollment program with Holyoke Community College. Even my emails to her receive prompt replies.
Those who know her describe a self-certainty and motivation beyond her nineteen years. In the same breath, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Kevon Isa calls Burger “highly motivated” and “someone who lives in the moment,” a rare and advantageous balance of near- and far-sightedness. As her advisor, Patrick Carley, DPT, diagnoses it, Burger “is the type of individual who knows who she is, what her talents are, [and] where she wants to go in life.”
When it came time to choose a college, her desire to someday work with kids ultimately outweighed her interest in working with soldiers, so she forwent West Point. “I am young,” Burger figures, “and if once I finish school I still want to join the military, that door is always open.”
Physical therapy, she says of her chosen field, should allow her to make personal connections with patients, “to get to know them and understand them,” which isn’t always true of other disciplines.
To be a teenager in a doctoral program, according to Burger, has its perspectivist perks, helping her “see experiences and learning in a different light.” Studying alongside students a decade her senior, she says, has forced her to “grow up much faster.”
AIC’s doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program, she adds, “is like no other.” Its small size allows students to “connect with one another and get to know each other on a more personal level that I believe is beneficial and is what makes everyone from the program so successful.” Professor Carley says the program is “the perfect springboard” for Burger to launch her “most certainly successful career.”
Burger’s on pace to graduate with her DPT in 2023; she’ll be twenty-one years old. Her plans thereafter are rightfully uncertain: she may spend some time living and working outside of Western Massachusetts; her current dream job is at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she says, “but that could always change.” Right now, though, she’s—true to her character—focused on the task at hand: “passing each semester, because that comes first.”