Last year, kinesiology student Christian Torres ‘16 was awarded the Jeffrey D. Law Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship given to graduate kinesiology students to honor the legacy of Jeffrey Law – a strength and conditioning coach. Torres, currently in his final semester of the program, met the Law family recently and was able to thank them for supporting his dreams.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in sports and exercise science, Torres planned on getting into a physical therapy doctorate program; however, major life changes caused him to step back and rethink his goals. In the final year of his undergrad, his first daughter, Mia, was born. Knowing that being a new father and a graduate student at the same time would be too much, Torres continued working in the restaurant business as a bartender for a few years.
Over time, however, Torres realized that he wanted to leave the restaurant industry and go back to school. “I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, and I saw no end to it,” Torres said. “Once the pandemic hit, I got furloughed from my job, and it caused me to really sit back and think deep about what I wanted to do moving forward.” Ultimately, Torres used the pandemic as the out he had been needing to go back to school. But he found a new path, the master’s program in kinesiology. This program equipped him with the knowledge and skills to become a strength and conditioning coach, allowing him to work with athletes and help them reach their performance goals. It lit a passion in him.
“Going through my master’s has been financially tough. I quit a comfortably paying job to chase a different passion.” Torres explained that one semester he was applying to many different scholarships, as student loans were starting to hit hard. “When I saw the Law scholarship, it really resonated with everything I am trying to do as an aspiring strength and conditioning coach.”
Torres was awarded the scholarship in the fall semester and was able to meet the Law family in January. “They welcomed me with open arms,” Torres said. “They acted as though they had known me forever. As soon as I walked in, they treated me as family.”
The Laws created the scholarship to help students who aspire to have careers in strength and conditioning, just like their late son. Torres used the Law scholarship to take and pass his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam, a very expensive certification offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The certification will give him a competitive advantage in the job market.
After receiving his master’s degree, Torres wants to work with high school and middle school athletes. “I feel like sometimes high school athletes are not as catered to in terms of health and strength training as college or professional athletes are,” Torres said. “Often times, they aren’t trained properly, and their coaches do not have the education or experience to do so.”
Torres is currently completing his practicum at BioFit Performance Oviedo, as well as working as a personal training and sports performance coach at Lake Nona Performance Club. He will be graduating with his master’s in kinesiology in May.
Torres’ story is just one of many examples of how scholarships can change someone’s life. UCF offers plenty of scholarships for its students thanks to the generosity of others, like the Law family. Stories like Torres’ show that a single scholarship can go a long way in the life of a student.
Scholarship opportunities at UCF can be found on A2O.