SHRP recognizes Alumnus of the Year, Early Career Achievement
Published on Monday, April 11, 2022
By: Andrea Wright Dilworth, email@example.com
By his own admission, Charles Swearingen has reinvented himself several times. Not out of necessity, but a drive to be impactful.
He’s a flight paramedic, professional volleyball player, professor, author, business owner, spokesperson, and highly sought-after motivational speaker.
Unlike some re-inventors, Swearingen has not left one profession to start another. Instead, with each new pursuit, he’s simply added to his “To-Do list.”
“I derive a real sense of accomplishment when I achieve my goals and therefore am always drafting new ones,” said the Gulfport native. “At the end of the day, I want to feel like I contributed, helped, benefitted, improved, or enhanced something or someone. Sometimes that person is me, to be honest, but most of the time I'm reaching for goals that more than I can benefit from.”
The latest accolade to his resume is the School of Health Related Professions’ Alumnus of the Year.
The former class president and student delegate for SHRP earned a paramedicine certificate in 2005 and was pursuing a doctorate in clinical health sciences when he took a break in 2010 to pursue Olympic gold in the Paralympics.
Dr. Jessica Bailey, dean of SHRP, remembers Swearingen well.
“Perhaps the most stunning thing about Charles is not only being recognized as a great student but also as an amazing person,” said Bailey. “I know that he has also served as an encouragement to many other young men and women who have lived with physical challenges in their lives. Charles emanates a ‘can do’ attitude, and I’m quite certain he has never given up on anything.
“I’ll always remember an afternoon he came to my office to discuss a written assignment, and he was so excited because he had just been fitted with new ankles on his prosthetics and they allowed him ‘swivel motion,’ which would surely improve his golf swing.”
Born with a birth defect of his lower legs that resulted in them being amputated during his infancy, Swearingen realizes he is a walking case study in refusing to be defined by limitations.
“The older I got, I knew what I liked and what I was good at and tried to leverage that to help others, actionably,” he said.
He and wife Marge, with whom he is expecting their first child, moved back to Jackson this year to be closer to family.
As a critical care flight paramedic at UMMC, he works 24-hour shifts four days out of every 14, which allows ample time for other pursuits, which these days mostly consists of working on materials for his teaching business that trains health care workers to operate in flight and critical care operations, training for the next USA Volleyball roster, and preparing for baby Isla Grace, due in May.
His latest goals? “I want to make my wife smile every day. I want to make my daughter safe and happy. I want to make sure to share what I learn to anyone who will listen.”
Early Career Achievement Award
Dr. Randi Moak Richardson, a 2010 graduate of the physical therapy program, has also stacked a variety of professional experiences in the dozen years since she earned her doctorate.
After going on to complete the sports physical therapy residency program at UMMC, she moved to Orlando and worked in sports medicine for nine years, and along the way became dual certified in sports physical therapy and orthopedic physical therapy.
She joined the faculty at the University of Central Florida as an assistant professor in 2020 to assist with a new clinical faculty practice. Two years later, she has a dual role: providing physical therapy to student athletes, students, faculty and staff; and providing clinical application in labs and supervision to Doctor of Physical Therapy students. The practice also provides physical therapy to the community.
“Randi’s Early Achievement Award is based on her diligence to pursue professional excellence, contributing to young minds, and providing outreach to her community,” said Ryan Blakeney, SHRP Alumni Board president. “Her work with people during times of struggle and returning them to their normal lives is hard work, but she has shown that challenges simply propel her to succeed.”
Richardson’s biggest influence in becoming a physical therapist was watching her mother heal from an injury. Just 12 years old at the time, she will never forget how encouraging the physical therapist, whose name she still remembers, was to her mom.
That’s not all that excited her about the career as a child.
“I loved that the field was active, involved working with athletes, and allowed me to serve others using a holistic approach,” said Richardson. “As a former collegiate athlete, I am able to understand the demands of the sport, pressure from the coaching staff and the injured athletes’ desire to return to play. My passions are orthopedics, sports, and physical therapy education. My current position allows me to share all three passions on a daily basis.”
“The University of Mississippi and SHRP prepared me with the knowledge and experience to build the foundation to start my career as a physical therapist,” said Richardson.
Her most recent accomplishment came last year when she was elected an item writer/subject area content expert by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties for the Sports Clinical Specialist exam.
Still, the Bogue Chitto native, who with husband Ryan has two sons, believes there’s a lot more to learn. So, she plans to soon pursue a doctorate in kinesiology/sports science.
“Dr. Richardson possesses an impressive skillset in her provision of quality clinical services, dynamic education and effective operational oversight,” said Dr. Whitney Warrington Bondurant, department business administrator in pediatrics and president-elect of the SHRP Alumni Board. “Her dedication to mentorship and education will create a lasting impact on her field and the communities she serves.”