Hometown: West Plains, Missouri
Currently Resides: Red Mesa, Arizona (Navajo Nation Reservation)
Occupation: Physical Therapist
Degrees: AA in General Studies, BS in Exercise and Movement Science, Doctorate in Physical Therapy
“I could stay close to home and obtain the start to the education I needed through an associate’s degree.”
When West Plains native Douglas Cordel returned from active duty in the U.S. Navy, he chose Missouri State University-West Plains to begin preparing for his future career, knowing the smaller campus would not feel so overwhelming as he adjusted to civilian life.
Cordel knew the campus offered a Veterans Services program which assists veterans and their spouses and dependents with completing the required Veterans Administration paperwork to receive education benefits, academic and advisement support, an military-to-civilian transition. But he chose a different route to acclimate to campus life.
“I was a Student Ambassador, which helped me with public speaking, offered a unique camaraderie among other ambassadors and allowed me to promote the university – and college education in general – to high school kids,” he said.
“I was also on the (Grizzly) Cheer Team with my wife, and that helped me keep in shape and offered me an opportunity to promote university athletics while fostering additional pride in my alma mater,” he added.
Cordel said his experience at Missouri State-West Plains was outstanding. The campus, he explained, was not overwhelming for a non-traditional student, and there were ample resources to help ensure his academic success.
He received everything he was looking for and more, he said. Not only did he graduate, but his wife, Brittany, also became an alumna of Missouri State-West Plains.
“First and foremost, the education was top notch, with many excellent instructors and professors. I felt very prepared to go on and earn my bachelor of science and, eventually, my doctorate.”
Cordel went on to obtain two more degrees from the Missouri State University System at the Springfield campus, and has since added sons Titus and Xander to his family unit.
Now, Cordel uses the skills he learned to help at-risk patients.
“I sit on a multidisciplinary chronic pain committee for a service unit which serves 55,000 Native Americans on the Navajo Nation Reservation,” he explained. “At my current location, our mission is to serve the medical needs of a population which is impoverished and otherwise underserved.”
Cordel credits his experience at Missouri State-West Plains with helping him become a better leader and showing him that involvement in activities outside his natural comfort zone are essential for growth as a person.
“Step outside your comfort zone and try things you think you wouldn’t,” he encouraged future students. “You might find that you can grow from the challenge you put yourself up to.”