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HHP Student Spotlight Series: Tony Byron

Charlcee Cervantez | June 19, 2024

Tony Byron playing guitar
Tony Byron, M.S.R.L.S.

Tony Byron's path to Recreation Therapy was marked by a moment of clarity amid a chaotic professional environment. "I was working 80+ hour weeks, 1,000 miles from home in a terrible job that felt like all I was doing was exploiting people for monetary gain," Byron recounted. "Recreation Therapy felt like the exact opposite of my job."

Driven by this realization, Byron took a leap of faith, swiftly enrolling in the Master’s program at Texas State University. "TXST had the only Masters program in all of Texas, so on a whim I applied in June, was accepted in July, and taking classes in August," he shared.

Currently immersed in an enriching internship experience at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Sheridan, Wyoming, Byron reflects on his journey with gratitude. Collaborating with his preceptor, Byron is tasked with providing therapeutic programming for three wards in the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation program.

From tying fly-fishing flies to leading photography groups and teaching guitar lessons, Byron's internship has been a diverse tapestry of experiences. "Although I have picked up many new leisure skills, my graphic design skills have improved the most," Byron remarked. Notably, his creative expression group utilizing a laser engraver to craft challenge coins for veterans has garnered significant acclaim.

Throughout his internship journey, Byron acknowledges the unwavering support of the Department of Health and Human Performance. As a non-traditional student navigating a demanding internship far from home, Byron appreciates the department's guidance and assistance, including a timely reminder to apply for graduation.

Looking toward the future, Byron's aspirations are firmly rooted in continuing his work with the VA. "My superiors and their bosses have verbally committed to hiring me," Byron revealed, expressing optimism about his future in Wyoming.

For prospective students embarking on internships or fieldwork, Byron offers advice based on his own experiences. "Take the bad job at the right place," he advises. Emphasizing the value of hands-on experience and perseverance, Byron encourages aspiring professionals to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

As Tony Byron's journey illustrates, sometimes the most unexpected paths lead to the most fulfilling destinations, reminding us all of the transformative power of passion and perseverance.