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Touching people’s lives

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When Dr. Brian Nathanson, BGS ’02, enrolled in UConn’s Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program in 1999, his original goal was to finish his bachelor’s degree and go on to earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration) at the UConn School of Business. But life, as it often does, got in the way of this plans. When his two-year old daughter began having seizures, he spent endless hours in a treatment center in California. After he learned the manual manipulation of her soft tissue led to her recovery, he changed his focus to health care and went on to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree at the University of Bridgeport. Nathanson now owns and operates New England Physical Care, a successful chiropractic practice in Norwalk.

He was in his late 30s with an associate’s degree in graphics when he discovered the BGS program. “I never went on to finish my bachelors,” he said. “It was a nagging thing for years. I felt that an associate’s degree wasn’t very helpful and that I missed out on so much by never finishing my degree. I kept toying with the idea; looking at online programs.” Nathanson experimented, and tried a few classes from other universities, but wanted a degree from a school like UConn.

Nathanson chose the BGS program because it gave him the flexibility to do what he needed to do, even after he changed his focus from business to pre-med. “BGS allowed me to get whatever I needed done,” he said. “To get the pre-meds done without going to Storrs, I took biochemistry at West Conn (Western Connecticut State University) and I took physics at Fairfield University. The BGS program allowed me to take those courses. I got a really well-rounded education at UConn; I got to do things I never thought I would do. I had the best time; I loved it. I had an individualized program with a health sciences concentration.”

Having a BGS counselor who worked with him to get his prior college credits transferred into the program made it even more attractive. “They took my SUNY associates’ degree credits from the 1970s, as well as the 15 credits for business courses at the University of Phoenix, which I took when we lived in San Diego, where my daughter was in the treatment center for seven months. I have six transcripts, with credits from SUNY, UConn, West Conn, Fairfield University and the University of Bridgeport. BGS would accept my credits and tailor a program to get me where I wanted to go.”

Nathanson ran his own business and became father to a second child while enrolled in the BGS program, so flexibility was of paramount importance. “BGS allowed me to accommodate those responsibilities and allowed me to fulfill my dream,” he said. “Being self-employed, I was able to be at the campus when I had to, get into Manhattan when I needed to, and take the courses I needed, when I needed them. It was great – it was just so user friendly.”

Attending college classes as an adult, rather than as a traditional age student, was an eye-opener for Nathanson that enhanced his learning experience.

“Learning at this age is fun,” he said, enthusiastically. “When you’re 19, it’s a task, but at this stage it’s, ‘Wow! There’s so much to learn. This is so much fun.’ I loved being there. I had the chance to learn things I never thought I’d learn. I took two history courses with Professor Joel Blatt, who was amazing. His classes were so enriching that I looked forward to the assignments and the papers.”

Earning his BGS degree turned Nathanson’s life around; both in the pride he feels at earning a UConn bachelor’s degree and by setting him on a career path that touches people’s lives.

“I’m very proud to say that I have my bachelor’s degree from UConn, which is a top school in the nation,” he says. “My diploma hangs proudly on my wall, and my work as a chiropractor is very rewarding.”

Rather than practicing traditional chiropractic, Nathanson works on soft tissue to help restore range of motion to breast cancer survivors, individuals who have lost limbs, have hip or knee problems, or have restricted motion from injuries suffered in car accidents.

“Without sounding too high and mighty, part of it is you’re doing God’s work,” he says. “You touch people in a way that no one else does and you get them feeling better. With chiropractic medicine, you not only touch your patients, you touch their lives. It’s not about money; it’s about changing lives.”