About Erik Carman ’21

Erik Carman will tell you “it wasn’t a straight line” to becoming a candidate for a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Russell Sage College’s School of Health Sciences.

In fact, he’ll admit that for the longest time his vision of a future career was pretty blurry. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree in Buffalo, he came back home to the Albany area uncertain of what he wanted to do with his life. For a time, he worked in a restaurant. He got into exercising. And that interest in exercise and getting healthy led to someone saying he should check out becoming a physical therapist.

After taking 10 additional courses at community college over a two-year period, Erik applied and was accepted at Sage. And that’s when the fog started to lift, and a vision of a path forward began to take shape.

“Everyone in the Physical Therapy program I really clicked with,” Erik says. “They were like-minded people. They looked out for one another. They were kind and generous, as well as health conscious.”

Erik also has an uncle who is a physical therapist and a Sage graduate: Brian Thornton of Altamont Physical Therapy. Brain allowed Erik to observe and help him at his clinic. 

Meanwhile, the rest of Erik’s life was getting quite complicated. He met a woman. He and Dareysi had a child, Hazel. He was working part-time in a warehouse to help make ends meet, while trying to keep up with the schoolwork.

He says it was challenging.

He says it still is. As he contemplates the start of his third year, Hazel is now 10 months old, he’s still working in the warehouse, and he’ll be beginning the clinical phase of his schoolwork in the fall. 

“But once I decided this is what I was going to do, I decided it was going to be about putting one foot in front of the other,” he says. “I haven’t up to now put all the pieces in the right order in my life, but it all started coming together when I got to Sage, and met a great group of people.”

One of the central tenants of the DPT program is that: “Faculty and students have a responsibility to make positive contributions to the professional community and community-at-large.”

That approach connects with something that Erik has always seen clearly about himself: “I want to help people.”

In the beginning, he thought he might go into geriatrics. He was close to his grandmother and was thinking he might like to help that population. But lately he’s been thinking he might get more satisfaction trying to change people’s perceptions about what is normal aging. 

So, it’s no longer a matter of where or how he’s going to find his place in the world. It’s about the details now. 


“Everyone in the Physical therapy program I really clicked with. They were like-minded people. They looked out for one another. They were kind and generous, as well as health conscious.”

Erik Carman ’21