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Alumni Profile: Trecia-Kaye Smith University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Meet:

Trecia-Kaye Smith (MS '02)

Title:

Physical Therapist, Business Owner

SHRS Program Attended:

Physical Therapy

Q: What initially got you interested in physical therapy?

Trecia-Kaye: Growing up, my mom was a nurse practitioner in Jamaica, so I was always interested in the medical field. I didn't know what specialty I was going to be involved in, but that was the general direction that I wanted to take. When I came to Pitt as a student-athlete, I saw all the hospitals and specialty clinics. I was like, “Okay, I'm in the right spot.”

I started out as pre-med. That didn't go as planned; I ran into organic chemistry, and to be fair, I took it during spring semester which is when most of the track competitions are. I didn't really do myself any justice taking that, and it was only offered in spring. I also did an internship in the ER at Presbyterian Hospital and I found out I really didn’t like blood.

At the end of sophomore year when I met with my advisors, I was like, “Okay this is not the path for me, but what can I do with all those credits that I had geared towards pre-med?” So we looked around and they actually first sent me to Occupational Therapy. Eventually we determined that OT wasn’t for me, and I gradually drifted across the hall to the PT Department. It was just like kismet and it worked perfectly.

Q: Tell us about your career trajectory and what you've done since leaving Pitt.

Trecia-Kaye: I left Pitt in 2002 and from there I went to England. By the time I finished Pitt, I was tired of school and exams. I went to the UK, where for the first two years I just focused on athletics. I became a world champion and fourth place finisher in the Olympics and then after that I did the UK equivalent of the National Physical Therapy Exam and I became a licensed therapist in 2006.

Smith competed in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics and was among the first class of athletes to be inducted into Pitt's Hall of Fame.

I practiced physical therapy along with competing abroad and that was an invaluable experience because I've been on most of the continents and I was able to observe and even participate in treatment of high-caliber athletes and learn new techniques.

Q: Tell us about your work in the UK.

Trecia-Kaye: I opened up a business in the UK. (I'm using the business name here now.) I accepted people from all walks of life, just regular Joe Schmoes to high caliber athletes in all areas -- cycling, soccer, and rugby.

I was also involved in a nationwide mentorship program where I would go into schools and talk about athletics and life after athletics. Sharing my story and the importance of having something alongside athletics because that's a very finite time period in one’s life. You can’t do athletics forever, but the opportunities it’s afforded people are immeasurable. I shared my experience of getting a strong education while doing something that I love and where it took me.

I was also a part of the London Coaching Foundation. It's an organization that focuses on mentorship and coaching disenfranchised youth in London boroughs. Also, working with a training partner, I developed another company -- SELF: Sporting Excellence Life Fitness -- which is along the same theme of providing mentorship and guidance to people coming up in the area.

Q: What sort of lasting impact do you hope that your work has?

Trecia-Kaye: That's a very tough question. I just want to know I made a difference. That's all. I don't want to do anything but see recovery or restoration of function in the people whose lives I’ve touched. For athletes who I still treat and mentor, I just want them to go on to be the best that they can be.

It doesn't have to be a world record or getting on the podium -- just stepping into the arena healthy and able to showcase what you can do. That's what's amazing to me. For the people that I treat who are not high-class athletes, I just want to see them being able to do for themselves, whether it's with or without adaptive equipment, just being independent; to restore some measure of independence.

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Credits:

Photos provided by Trecia-Kaye Smith

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