Meet Pravindra P.

Exercise Science Graduate

“I felt like I had an opportunity, a purpose, a drive to help those that are in need, so that’s why I applied for the president position at PTK.”

Hopeful emigrant, honor society president, future physical therapist, one-time homeless student.

It’s hard to put a label on Pravindra Persaud - a 2021 graduate of the Exercise Science program, but it’s accurate to say his life has been challenging. With perseverance and humility, he’s been up to the challenge.

Pravindra spent much of his early childhood on a small farm owned by his grandparents off the coast of Guyana in South America. Up at 5 a.m. to feed the chickens and let the goats and sheep into a pasture, it certainly wasn’t your typical American childhood of smartphones and fast food. He moved to the United States to get an education beyond what his rural Guyanese homeland could provide, ending up in the Bronx at age 13.

Accepted into the Bronx Academy of Health Careers – a public high school - he did well academically, but poverty forced his family into homelessness at one point and he wasn’t able to focus on his schoolwork.

“Growing up, my family was poor, my grandfather was the only one who was working and he was a teacher at the time,” Pravin said. “When I came over here [to the US] with my mom, I ended up being homeless for a while. My high school had an honor society and I got inducted my junior year and started to get involved, and that made me even more committed to getting involved once I got to college and to make the most of the opportunity.”

Elected president of Hudson Valley’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society in 2020, he helped steer the chapter to more fundraising and philanthropic work. Even during the pandemic, members volunteered regularly at the local food bank and have created fundraisers to support causes here in the Capital Region and around the world.

“I felt like I had an opportunity, a purpose, a drive to help those that are in need, so that’s why I applied for the president position at PTK. I don’t want other people to feel the way I felt when I was homeless and in the situation I was in,” he said. “We want to help people get back on their feet.”

Despite completing a majority of his courses online due to the pandemic, Pravin said he’s worked hard to make the most of the opportunity Hudson Valley has offered. In addition to his leadership role in Phi Theta Kappa, he also had an internship in the college’s athletic training department – good exercise for his future career as a physical therapist.

That career goal, oddly enough, has its origins way back on his grandparents’ farm, where he sometimes needed to care for and rehabilitate injured farm animals. Always interested in pursuing a health care career, he figured that he could translate those skills.

“I know I’ve got a long way to go but I’ve kind of got my plan laid out,” he said. “This fall I’m going to transfer to Russell Sage College because they have a great Physical Therapy program there. I’m hoping to get my doctorate eventually, probably another six more years.”

When some people tell you they want a career that can help “make a difference in people’s lives,” you might get the sense they are just trying to impress. With Pravindra Persaud, you get the impression he’s speaking from the heart.