‘I Have a Deep Sense of Purpose’: Marine Veteran and Father of 4 Graduates With DPT

Shane Adamos once swore off physical therapy. Now, he holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from USC and is inspired to help others lead healthier lives.

By Daniel P. Smith

Shane Adamos (DPT ’22) took a winding, unorthodox path to USC — and one even he didn’t see coming.

Adamos majored in Asian American studies and psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. The San Diego native served 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including a 2005 stint in Iraq, and closed his military career as a tank officer. He also spent time in law enforcement.

By the time Adamos arrived at USC in 2019, he was a well-traveled, 39-year-old father of four who had once questioned the validity of physical therapy, lamenting the lack of interaction he had with a therapist while rehabbing a rotator cuff tear.

“I think it’s safe to say my background was a bit different than my peers,” Adamos acknowledged. “I never thought of attending physical therapy school and certainly never considered it as I closed in on 40 years old.”

A Change of Heart

While working as a strength and conditioning coach at a San Diego area gym, however, Adamos became increasingly fascinated by bodies in motion — and how to keep those bodies in motion. While pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology at San Diego State University, Adamos, a naturally inquisitive soul who devoured journal articles and other publications on injury prevention and recovery, became the gym’s de facto injury guru.

“People were surprised to learn I wasn’t a doctor or a physical therapist,” Adamos said.

In helping gym members overcome the ailments plaguing them, Adamos saw an opportunity to practice physical therapy “the way he wanted” and grew intrigued by the possibilities of having more direct control over an athlete’s journey. 

“As a strength coach, I had the athlete from the performance side, but I wanted more,” he said. “I thought physical therapy would broaden my ability to serve the athlete, whether that was preventing injury or bringing them back to activity.”

Adamos enrolled in USC’s hybrid online/on-campus Doctor of Physical Therapy program to accomplish just that.

Taking a Macro View

He overcame the “24-hour craziness” of domestic life ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic, including four homebound children under age 10, with a pragmatic spirit and resolute will, not to mention a gifted and patient wife. He devoted early days and late nights to his DPT studies and focused on climbing one step at a time.

“Juggling four kids and academics is a lot of weight to bear if you don’t triage your time and energy,” Adamos said. “I had to step back and have a macro view. Otherwise, I would’ve gone crazy.”

Now holding his DPT degree, the 41-year-old Adamos looks forward to the next turn in his winding life. He hopes to practice physical therapy in a sports medicine environment and perhaps open his own clinic someday.

“Much like my time in the Marines, I have a deep sense of purpose,” Adamos said. “Physical therapy is an opportunity to serve out the purpose of helping people become better people after working with me, and that’s an energizing feeling.”

Learn more about the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) hybrid online/on-campus program today.

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