40 under 40 - Richard J. Wood '99, G'01
How has having a Springfield College degree impacted you professionally?
During my second year as a faculty member at SC, I made a brief presentation at a dinner held after the Academic Awards ceremony titled the presentation "A Springfield College Education: No App for That." The point I tried to make is that, as technology spreads and has an ever-growing impact on our lives, there will never be a way to package what you get at SC into an App. And what you get are timeless skills; no matter what goes on in the world, we need people who care about others and can communicate.
Also, a key factor at SC is opportunity. Opportunities to lead, work with people, make mistakes, and grow. You also become part of a network of alumni that is unbeatable in wellness, education, sport performance, and health sciences. SC helped me develop my skills in communication and leadership and gave me opportunities to use those skills to help others.
Coming back to SC as a member of the faculty was a wonderful opportunity and I felt a lot of satisfaction trying to give back to the students in the way I was given to when I was a student.
Along those lines, I will be taking on a new professional opportunity that is actually quite aligned with the Humanics philosophy. As of Dec 31, 2016, I will be leaving my position as Associate Professor at SC to join Virta as part of their clinical team. Virta is founded by experienced scientists, and develops and delivers clinically proven, individualized therapies to restore metabolic health in chronic disease patients.
Who influenced you when you were a student at Springfield College and explain the role they played in your life?
I have been so fortunate to have some amazing mentors, and many of them are from Springfield College. Charlie Redmond called me at home as part of the interview process in the fall of 1994. Pretty much from that point on he became one of the most important professional mentors I have ever had. Charlie didn't usually give me answers—he set me up to find answers—and for that I am eternally grateful. He also knows how to keep things light; I remember him coming in to the Intro to Athletic Training course he was teaching, and before the first exam he said something like "I just took this exam and I got a 75, so you all should do okay."
Dr. Sam Headley's Medical Physiology class, which I took while in graduate school, changed my life. At the time I was completely focused on sport performance. However, that class made me realize an undiscovered passion for medical physiology, specifically with respect to lipids. Ultimately, that course changed my direction and led me in to working with people who have chronic metabolic disease. Sam is an incredible educator and has become an incredible friend.
I learned so much from so many others at SC—too many to mention each by name, but working in NSO, as a student athletic trainer, and playing hockey were major highlights for me and played an important role in my development.
If you could share one piece of advice with today's current Springfield College student, what would it be?
Be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities you get at SC; you probably would not have gotten such opportunities at most at other institutions.
Who do you want to thank personally for the role they have played in your success?
I have always had the full support of my family, and would have accomplished nothing without that support. My amazing wife Vanessa has been there every step of the way, and the love and nurturing she has provided for me and our two incredible boys, Cody (10) and Dawson (7), is what keeps me going. Cody and Dawson, I love being your Daddy! My parents Joel and Sue and my brothers Brian and Scott have always been there with guidance and positive energy to help me push through so many challenges. Thank you all and I love you very much. I also want to thank my roommate turned best friend Brian Schrader. You are truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. I also want to thank Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez. Dr. Fernandez was my Major Advisor when I completed my Ph.D. at UConn and has remained a very important mentor in my life. Thank you for everything and for always being there with excellent guidance.