Student Veteran Continues on Path of Serving Others
Like many of his peers, CHS student Christopher Myrda was blindsided by the shutdowns in spring 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The medically discharged Army veteran had just transferred to UTEP from El Paso Community College with plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and eventually, a doctorate in Physical Therapy. While UTEP followed CDC guidance and shut down the campus, transitioning in-person classes quickly to an online learning format, Myrda found himself in a position of simply “putting his head down and moving forward” to pursue his higher education goals.
Despite the obstacles presented during the early part of the pandemic, particularly in the area of extracurricular activities, Myrda said he found personal fulfillment through service to others, a drive he says was established through his deployments to the Middle East, where he saw people facing hunger as well as disparities in healthcare access and education. While Myrda’s subsequent experience volunteering at El Paso food pantries helped alleviate pandemic-induced social isolation, it also helped him and his family to come to the decision to make El Paso their “forever home.”
"Witnessing the care and compassion that El Pasoans have for one another…is unmatched by any other community I have experienced," he said.
After arriving at the decision to stay in El Paso, Myrda and his wife, Amber, established a Free Little Library that they now run out of their garage.
"My wife is a book fanatic and reads anywhere from 60-80 books a year, while working full-time and working on her MSW,” he said. “We are always accepting books from the community, and we actually partnered with one of the El Paso libraries, and they provided us with roughly 400 children’s books. To reach us, our Facebook page is called ‘Sandstone Ranch Free Little Library."
Myrda will graduate summa cum laude this fall and plans to apply to become a physical therapy technician to get more hands-on training and hours of observation for the 2022 application cycle of the UTEP Doctor of Physical Therapy program. His long-term goal is to remain in the area and eventually specialize in pediatrics or sports PT.
"Once I accomplish my goal of becoming a physical therapist, I promise to show the same amount of care, empathy, and compassion to the borderland community inside and outside the clinical setting," he said.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Myrda
To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program, please visit: https://www.utep.edu/chs/kinesiology/academic-programs/undergraduate/undergraduate-program.html