Nicholas Thomas (B.S. ‘18) is currently in his second year of medical school at Florida State University, but his journey started many years ago, even before his undergraduate experience at the College of Health and Human Sciences. In fact, Thomas can trace his dream to go to medical school all the way back to his childhood, when his experience with his nephew opened his eyes to the difference a doctor can make.
“My nephew is my best friend,” he says. “When I was six years old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Through accompanying my nephew and sister to his various appointments, my seed of interest in medicine was planted. I witnessed firsthand how greatly those physicians impacted his life, and I knew one day I wanted to have the knowledge and skill set to do the same.”
With a career path in mind, Thomas knew the direction he wanted to go even if he didn’t know the exact steps to get there. When it was time to begin his undergraduate studies, he was excited to come to Florida State University, and his journey to become a doctor became clearer. “My advisors insisted I choose a major with classes that interested me. As an athlete, I jumped at the opportunity to become an Exercise Physiology major,” he says.
His decision to study at the College of Health and Human Sciences had a lasting impact on his journey. “This track allowed me to expand my knowledge of how the body truly works, from human anatomy to the physiologic pathways that allow the body to function,” Thomas adds. “The courses I took as an undergraduate still help me tremendously, even as a second-year medical student.” One of his favorite classes was Metabolism I, which he took with Professor Jennifer Farrell. “Hand-in-hand with Organic Chemistry, I credit this course for equipping me with the study tactics and problem-solving skills that have allowed me to excel in medical school.”
While he finished his studies at the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2018, the connections he made along the way created interesting and exciting opportunities for him. Currently, he is conducting original research with Drs. Joe Grzywacz and Shannon Montgomery. Together, they are investigating the work-family interface and how it influences health among African Americans. “I am so happy to still be connected with this department and look forward to continuing to grow as a researcher and lifelong learner.”
Now, in his second year at the FSU College of Medicine, Thomas’ effort and interest in helping others continue to distinguish him as an exemplary student and alumnus. On top of being named the president of the College of Medicine’s class of 2024 and serving as the sports medicine chair for the Family Medicine Interest Group, he was recently named a 2021 Notable Noles honoree. In addition, he was chosen as one of just six Notable Noles to receive the Reubin O’D. Askew Young Alumni Award, which is the highest honor given to young alumni.
“I never imagined being honored by FSU with such a distinguished award,” Thomas says. “It is a great feeling to have my hard work recognized. Florida State has granted me so many incomparable opportunities, and I am so grateful to soon be a three-time alumnus. I hope that through my experiences I can influence those on similar paths, as the true meaning of this journey is to lift as we climb!”
Despite the rigors of medical school, Thomas truly lives by his words; not only does he spend time as a member of the FSU wrestling team, but he is also a co-founder of the Extraordinary Kids Foundation, a non-profit that provides developmentally disabled children with personalized care. In 2016 the foundation opened a prescribed pediatric extended care facility in Lake Worth, Florida. Thanks to a team of nurses and therapists, children can enjoy full-time medical daycare, completely funded by Medicaid.
When he finishes medical school, Thomas hopes to work in general pediatrics or orthopedic surgery. He also is looking forward to expanding his role at the Extraordinary Kids Foundation. “Wherever life takes me, I know I will continue to work with children with disabilities, as I feel this is my God-given purpose,” he says.
Whatever the future holds for Nicholas Thomas, his commitment to help others has already made him a role model. Much like his nephew was an inspiration to him, he now serves as an inspiration to others on what it means to be a graduate of Florida State University.