You’re 18 years old, playing college football, and living the dream. You think you have it all – until you don’t.
Ian Wallis ’18 was a freshman football player at St. John Fisher College when a tragic accident altered the trajectory of his life. The left tackle was hit from behind during a two-minute drill, dislocating both kneecaps. Ian was left with daunting braces on both legs, unable to walk for three months.
“I had a lot of time to think about the way my life was heading and if I was actually on the right path,” said Ian. “Getting hurt was a huge wake-up call. I realized I needed to start focusing on what was important to me and my future.”
Ian made the decision to return to the Southern Tier, leaving football behind. To make money, he got a job at Guthrie Corning Hospital as a housekeeper. Ian quickly transitioned to a technical assistant role, giving him a behind-the-scenes look at medicine. He was hooked. Ian enrolled at SUNY Corning Community College as a liberal arts math and science major.
“I shadowed a doctor, and I immediately knew I wanted to do that for a career. Everything started to click,” said Ian. “The professors at SUNY CCC have been incredible during the whole process. They gave me the confidence to pursue medicine and to apply to my position in the emergency room at Guthrie.”
According to SUNY CCC Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Matthew Skerritt, Ian is an extremely motivated student. Dr. Skerritt recently nominated him for the Phi Theta Kappa NYS All-American Award.
“Ian is an uncommonly talented student,” said Matt. “He has discovered his passion for the sciences and medicine, which I am confident will drive him successfully to his goal of becoming a physician. His presence will surely be missed, but I am excited to see what the future holds for him.”
Ian plans to attend either Cornell or Binghamton University in the fall to major in pre-med. His goal is to become an Intensivist.
“Working in the ER, I’ve seen critical and non-critical patients, and I’d like to work somewhere in the middle,” said the Bath, N.Y., native. “You get to know the patients and their families in the ICU, while also making care plans for them. I want to be able to see my patients get better.”
Ian credits his Mom, Tracie Johnson, for teaching him the importance of helping people.
“I really want to thank my Mom for teaching me how to be selfless and to dedicate my life to helping others,” said Ian. “I feel like being a doctor will give me the best opportunity to help people, and that’s what she taught me life is all about.”
Ian is looking forward to starting school in the fall and getting to meet new people.
“Every time I go to work I’m like, ‘Can I just be a doctor already?’”