Skip to header Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Nolan Byrd ’23

Nolan Byrd’s desire to have a fulfilling career after UNCW led him to the exercise science field.
Nolan Byrd’s desire to have a fulfilling career after UNCW led him to the exercise science field.

When former Senior Class President Nolan Byrd ’23 was considering his future after UNCW, he knew he wanted something that would not only pay the bills but would also be fulfilling. He also knew that his career would not be in politics.

“Every time I go home, they’re like, when are you running for something?” he said. “But no, I would rather do anything else.”

What Byrd liked about being part of student government was being able to help other students by bringing them together with people who can effect change. “The Student Government Association is just being the voice and having the connections to make that change.”

For example, monthly breakfasts with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs allow SGA representatives to talk about students’ problems with someone who can make sure they get solved. “Those breakfasts are perfect opportunities for us to bring those issues to someone who cares, someone who’ll listen,” Byrd said.

He sees this as one of UNCW’s key strengths—the resources of a bigger campus combined with the dynamics of a smaller, tight-knit community. “I don’t feel like anyone at this university is out of reach, really. Even as a freshman, I didn’t.”

As much as he enjoyed student government, he said he didn’t want to be the star of a big campaign. “I don’t care for the spotlight like that,” he said. Instead, he considered other careers that shared what he most appreciated about student government. “I like roles where I know I can make a difference.”

Hearing his aunt, who is a therapy assistant, talk about her job led Byrd to an important realization. “One of the coolest things I could imagine doing in a job would be to help somebody learn to walk again, feed themselves, do daily tasks,” he said.

That set him on his track in exercise science. Taking classes with professors such as Dr. Lidio Lima de Albuquerque and Dr. Wayland Tseh cemented his plans, he said. They were instrumental by not just presenting the material to be learned but also highlighting “this is what you can do with it; this is how it applies.”

At that point, he said, “I didn’t see myself in anything else.”