Xavier Andrews always loved the world of sports fitness and wanted to use his knowledge and skills to help others heal from injuries.
A $1,000 National Association Veterans Upward Bound (NAVUB) Scholarship is helping the U.S. Navy veteran reach that goal.
“I earned my Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant (associate in arts) degree this past summer, and I’m just waiting to get into Pensacola State’s (associate of science degree) program,” said the 29-year-old Andrews, who served four years in the Navy as an aviation electronics technician.
The Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant AA degree is a prerequisite for the AS degree Program.
“When people ask why a PTA and not a physical therapist, I explain that the physical therapist does the evacuation but not the actual treatment. That is what a physical therapist assistant does. That is what I want to do – use my knowledge and skills to help others. I know I will like working with clients, witnessing their progression, and seeing them improve.”
The career field is near and dear to Andrews’ heart. His mother, Lori Liddell, is a nurse but was injured on the job.
“She uses a wheelchair now but has some mobility. She’s improving,” said Andrews, whose mother earned her LPN degree from Pensacola State.
A Pensacola native, Andrews’ family moved to Macon, Georgia, after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. His mother later moved back to her hometown.
“In July 2021, I returned to Pensacola from Washington state to care for her. In the accident, she fractured her L3 and L4 (spinal) vertebrae,” Andrews explained, adding he discovered PSC after researching local colleges that offered a Pre-PTA Program.
“Pensacola State was the only one with a Pre-PTA program. I spoke with John Woods (Academic Coordinator for the TRIO-VUB program), enrolled in classes, and earned my Pre-PTA associate degree this past summer,” Andrews said.
Woods said he nominated Andrews for the NAVUB scholarship because he exhibited the ability and motivation to accomplish his goals. He also had a 3.27 grade point average.
“Xavier balances family, school and VA work-study responsibilities,” Woods noted. “He is also a vital part of the Veterans Upward Bound Advisory Board and provides valuable input into ways the VUB program can improve and better serve the College’s growing student-veteran population.”
Robert Thead, Andrews’ political science instructor, described him as a model student – attentive and prepared.
“Xavier Andrews is a high-performing student who I am confident will excel in any educational setting and, ultimately, his professional endeavors,” Thead said. “On a personal level, Mr. Andrews is a pleasure to interact with, and he stands out amongst his peers – a trait I am sure he carries into every interaction.”
As a PSC work-study student, Andrews serves as a veteran’s advisor – scheduling students for the PERT test and helping them select courses.
Andrews said the scholarship was a tremendous help to him.
“I am honored to have received it, and I love PSC. It is very laid back compared to the other colleges I’ve attended,” he said. “It’s a slower pace with great professors invested in helping students succeed.”
A newlywed, Andrews describes his wife, Elizabeth, as “his best friend, his peace and his rock.”
“I could not ask for a better life partner,” he says, adding his advice to other PSC students is to stay positive.
“Take it one day at a time, and don’t take your day for granted. Be the best version of yourself every day,” Andrews added.