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Sherman College Students Steal the Show

SEPTEMBER 17, 2002 - Sherman College is home to a growing population of approximately 300 students who share avitalistic philosophy of life and health and a passion for serving others. But don't be misled into thinking they're all alike. Our students come from many different states and countries and have unique hobbies, talents and backgrounds.

Here's a chance to meet just a few of the students who help give Sherman College its character.

Kim Otis
Cedric Smith
Scott and Katherine Crafton

Kim Otis
Some might say the fields of nursing and chiropractic are like night and day -- but June 2002 graduate Kim Otis has worked in both professions and feels fortunate to have gained a unique perspective of health from her experiences.

Otis, a native of Westwood, NJ, worked for twelve years as a psychiatric nurse before enrolling in the doctor of chiropractic program at Sherman College in fall 1998. She continued that work at Marshall Pickens Hospital in nearby Greenville, SC, while she was a student at Sherman.

While studying to become a doctor of chiropractic at Sherman College, Otis worked 16-hour shifts most Saturdays and Sundays at Marshall Pickens. She did her classwork and studied on weeknights. Now that she has graduated, Otis says she'll continue working at the hospital a while longer, then move to Phoenix, AZ, to open a chiropractic practice there.

As a psychiatric nurse at Marshall Pickens, Otis assumes the roles of patient advocate, mediator, educator, listener and communicator. She works mostly with children and helps them manage anger, depression and family issues -- and she helps them gain coping skills to deal with stresses in their lives.

As an intern in Sherman College's Chiropractic Health Center, Otis took on many of the same roles, and she feels her experience as a nurse has given her a unique outlook as a doctor of chiropractic. "I think it's easier for me to relate to patients because of my background in psychiatric nursing," she says. "I understand how their mental and emotional health connects with their physical health, and I have really been able to reflect on how these issues affect their spinal health."

Otis began her career as a nurse at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ, where she earned her R.N. degree. She later completed a bachelor's degree in Nursing at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. While earning her degree at Coe College, she worked as a nurse at nearby St. Luke's Hospital.

She says she chose psychiatric nursing because she is a "people person." She also says it's a harder job than she thought it would be. "I thought being a psychiatric nurse would be easy, but it was a lot harder than I imagined," she says. "In nursing, the machines and blood work were all black and white -- high or low -- but dealing with mental health is much more difficult because you work with the whole person, and how people perceive and process situations in their lives is so complex."

For a few years, Otis did some "traveling nursing," filling in at hospitals in Baltimore, MD, Upstate New York, and Phoenix, AZ. One day in Phoenix, Otis strained her back, and a friend referred her to Greg Muchnij, D.C., '86. She stayed under his care until she left Phoenix.

"I believed in what Dr. Muchnij was talking about when he educated me about chiropractic," Otis says. "I believe that our bodies are at their best when there's no interference. When a close friend asked if I had considered becoming a doctor of chiropractic, I got chills. I loved the atmosphere at the chiropractor's office. And the thought of having a positive impact on so many lives in such a unique way really convinced me."

Soon Otis moved to Spartanburg, SC, "lock, stock and barrel," to enroll at Sherman College because she wanted a "small school atmosphere." She had never before been to the college campus or to the South. "I had no place to live, no friends, no job," she says. But she took a few prerequisite courses at Greenville Technical College, met other aspiring doctors of chiropractic and found work at Marshall Pickens Hospital.

Otis says her background as a nurse helped her through the program, emotionally and academically. "I have always felt that I bring a unique perspective to nursing," she says. "Being under chiropractic care helps me appreciate the body in new ways and has helped me relate differently to patients and people I work with. I try to paint a larger picture of health in general."

Cedric Smith
Cedric Smith has accomplished much in a short time. The 29-year-old graduated from high school in Gaffney, SC, in 1991; spent four years in the Marine Corps as a diesel mechanic; celebrated the birth of his son and daughter, Cedric Jr., and Kynnedi; earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC; and matriculated into Sherman College.

Smith says that when he completed his service in the military, he was ready to begin his college education and career search. He majored in biology and chemistry because he knew he wanted to be involved in a health profession. During his four years at Claflin, he worked at Family Health Center, Inc., in Orangeburg as a billing clerk and later as Risk and Safety Manager.

After earning his bachelor's degree, Smith says he decided to learn more about a career in chiropractic. He had visited Sherman College once before -- right after he graduated from high school, so he made a second visit. He also consulted with his good friend, a pediatrician, who told him that becoming a doctor of chiropractic would be an excellent career choice.

Now a fourth-quarter student at Sherman College, he volunteers regularly with the Cherokee County (SC) NAACP and -- thanks to his father, a city councilman -- enjoys being involved in Cherokee County politics. In addition, he is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., a Chiropractic Student Government representative and president of the Student American Black Chiropractic Association (SABCA) on campus.

"I like helping people," he says. "That's why I want to be a chiropractor -- to help people in a different, special way." Smith says he especially enjoys working with children, and he has become actively involved in NAACP programs in his native Cherokee County by planning and assisting with talent shows, mentoring programs, pageants and more.

"My father always taught me to believe in myself and to always look for ways improve," he says. "Now I'm teaching the same principles to my children. I want to help other kids have those same positive experiences. Children who lack confidence and support from their families sometimes feel discouraged. If I have the opportunity to talk to five kids, and because of it, one of them says, 'You know, I want to go to college,' then it makes the entire experience worthwhile. I find satisfaction in that."

Smith is also making an impact in the Spartanburg community through his post as president of the Student ABCA. The club has made a commitment to reach out to low-income areas of town and help residents learn more about chiropractic and its contribution to health. "I want to tell people what chiropractic is about," he says. "I want to explain what chiropractic can do for them and show them that they CAN afford care at the college's Chiropractic Health Center."

The club recently hosted a successful Chiropractic Health Day at Chapel Street Park in Spartanburg. Turnout for the event was good, Smith said, and many were introduced to Sherman College and chiropractic for the first time. The Student ABCA will host a Health Day next quarter and is planning to attend a health fair in nearby Greenville, SC. Members will also visit schools and college health fairs and participate in other community events. The club is planning bake sales to raise the funds necessary to attend health fairs and go to conferences.

"Everyone in the club has agreed to go back to their undergraduate schools to recruit," Smith said. "We come from a broad range of colleges and universities in the area, including several historically black colleges and universities like Claflin and Florida A&M."

Smith and fellow student Kercender Bowman attended the ABCA regional conference in January at Life University's College of Chiropractic in Marietta, GA. "Everyone was so happy to see representation from Sherman College," he said. "There was a big turnout for the conference, but everyone seemed to focus on us when we walked in -- Sherman College hadn't been represented there in a long time. We literally shook everyone's hands."

Smith hopes the Student ABCA's exposure in the community will supplement the college's efforts in minority recruiting. "We plan to be instrumental in increasing the diversity on campus," he says. "President Hardee and Dr. Princess Porter (career counselor for Admissions) have been very supportive of the club, and we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the student population and from faculty and staff."

Another of Smith's goals is to bring about more awareness of the Student ABCA's purpose. "We want everyone to know that the Student ABCA is not an organization just for African American students," he says. "We're just trying to bring more diversity to campus. We encourage everyone to help and join in the club's activities. Our message is all about chiropractic and health, and strengthening Sherman College's position in the profession and the community."

The Student ABCA has 14 members, but Smith says they are a small group focused on making a big impact. "Some people might think because we are such a small club, we can't get much done," he says. "But I was taught in my fraternity that 'eight men thoroughly immersed in true spirit are far greater assets than eight with lukewarm enthusiasm.' In other words, we only need a few to make a world of difference."

Scott and Katherine Crafton
Scott and Katherine Crafton of Flint, MI, are well suited for a small side business in the DJ and Karaoke market. "We make a good combination," Scott says. "I can carry the equipment, and she can sing."

Their DJ and musical skills have made the Craftons an integral part of social activities on the Sherman College campus. Upon the graduation of unofficial Sherman College DJ Jason Usher earlier this year, the couple took over musical operations for Bagelfest, commencement ceremonies and other college events.

They also began hosting Karaoke Nights on campus each quarter. "Originally we were a little worried about students coming back after a long day of classes," Scott says. "But we brought in some colored lights to change the atmosphere. It's lots of fun, and we enjoy seeing other students in a different situation than we see them during classes. It's nice to see the different groups they form to sing. And it's also fun to see administrators and students singing together -- seeing some hidden talents we never knew about before."

The Craftons' music library is an investment, to say the least. The couple has nearly 7,000 karaoke songs, plus more than 500 music CDs for their DJ work. Katherine says they enjoy karaoke because "you can experiment with all different styles -- pop, country, R&B, opera -- and you're not stuck in one genre. It keeps me interested because there are always new songs to learn."

When they lived in Detroit, MI, and Atlanta, GA, the Craftons worked with agents and were booked at many events. They freelanced at nightclubs, private and corporate parties, community events, yacht clubs, golf courses, weddings and other social events.

For the Craftons, deciding to become doctors of chiropractic took a little more time than developing their niche in the music business. In fact, both of them spent years in the work force -- Scott as an English teacher and high school principal, and Katherine as a nutritional therapist, a vocalist and a music teacher.

Their positive experiences with chiropractic care eventually led them to investigate the profession. "We knew how good we felt when we were under care," Katherine says. "We became more aware of how the body works, and we wanted to learn more. To think that we could be doctors of chiropractic and give people the opportunity to have healthier spines and bodies seemed like a great way to finish our careers."

Scott says he and Katherine have always been interested in health. "I looked at the body as something quite special, something that can heal itself," he explains. "Our decision took a long time coming. We had to create a whole new mindset. But building our second careers as doctors of chiropractic made sense to us because we love to help people and work with families."

So the Craftons left Michigan and began their chiropractic journey. They enrolled at Sherman College last summer. Along with them came a daughter, Natalie, 19; and son Matthew, 16. Both are interested in careers in chiropractic. The Craftons' other son, Michael, 29, is a police officer and a chiropractic advocate. All three children grew up under chiropractic care.

The Craftons say their age didn't hold them back from their new career choice. "Practicing as doctors of chiropractic is something we can do as long as we want," she says. "Age didn't present a barrier on our decision, and the students here seem to think we are energetic and youthful. We want to be a part of something that's important for a long time."

Now fifth-quarter students at Sherman College, the Craftons have slowed their musical schedule. "Any work we could do during an intense academic program like this would be to DJ, work a few hours, and schedule events around our classwork and exams," Katherine says. "We decided to get a solid start in school before we started taking jobs here. The nice thing about this business is that it's not something you have to work on at home. We only need to maintain the equipment and purchase up-to-date CDs. It's something we really enjoy doing in our spare time."

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