Griffin Brosowske moves through the socially-distanced halls at Seward County Community College without a lot of chatter, his height and physicality marking him as an athlete. But this Perryton native left basketball behind after a series of injuries — and a national pandemic — prompted him to rethink his goals. He’s quietly happy about the decision.
“Coming here was a basketball decision more than an academics decision,” he said. “With COVID coming on, I broke my ankle, injured my knee … every day when I woke up, I hurt somewhere. I was thinking, ‘do I really want to play basketball?’ In the end, I took this year as a break, and found out that I would rather go the career path, start a family — be happy.”
When Brosowske accepted the All Kansas Academic Team scholar’s award at an early spring luncheon, the recognition fit right in with his new situation and innate optimism.
An offshoot of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society for two-year colleges, the AKAT award recognizes student achievement in the classroom as well as character qualities like perseverance, integrity, and initiative. Brosowske credits his family for instilling those habits of mind. His father, Scott, holds a PhD and is a working archaeologist with Griffin’s mother, Lisa, a bachelor’s degree-holder. Growing up, Brosowske relished the opportunities to tag along on digs, sometimes as a paid assistant for his father. Both parents “advocate for school pretty hard.”
“Seeing my older brother take school seriously and graduate high school as salutatorian when I was a freshman made a big impression on me,” he recalled. Their age difference “was kind of perfect timing,” and offset the inevitable special treatment proffered to athletes.
“There were always a lot of exceptions made for you in high school if you were an athlete, but I didn’t default to that,” he said. “It helped me out when I got to college.”
Brosowske sustained those habits as a member of the Saints men’s basketball team, took on a work-study position, and enrolled in a rigorous course load — calculus, anatomy & physiology, along with required gen-eds. Halfway through his first year, he was still looking for transfer options that would enable him to continue playing basketball.
“But when the pandemic hit, I didn’t know how the season would play out, I was injured, and I had a lot of stress,” he recalled. “I really try to be optimistic in all my situations, but the idea of transferring after one year didn’t sound good.”
At SCCC, though, Brosowske “figured we would have more in-person classes, and the pandemic just didn’t seem as bad.” With his long-term girlfriend on campus, Brosowske was able to make the most of a strange year that offered unexpected opportunities.
“Having all this time is crazy to me, and it results in a lot more happiness,” he said. “I work 30 hours a week as a tutor and in the admissions office. I have new hobbies — I rock-climb, mountain bike, still doing athletic things but not as competitive or formal. I can take things at my own speed. I feel a lot better than I did a year ago.”
Once more, Brosowske has taken inspiration from his brother, who completed a degree in psychiatric nursing and is currently working in the field while he studies to become a physician’s assistant in San Antonio. After graduation from SCCC, when he’ll receive two associates’ degrees, Brosowske will transfer to the University of Texas-San Antonio with 85 credit hours. He isn’t sure whether he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, enroll in nursing or physicians’ assistant training, or take up a teaching career.
“I guess I will just give it a try and see what I really want,” he said. His years at Seward have provided him with confidence in this approach.
“The biggest thing I enjoyed at Seward was personally getting to know my teachers, having them get to know me, and having these conversations that have helped me identify what is important to me,” he said. “If I’d started at a big state university it would have been huge lecture halls, professors who don’t know your name… the thing I love here is how personable everyone is. Everyone cares about you. If I don’t do well on a project or a test, the instructor reaches out to ask, ‘hey, are you OK?’ That’s a big thing.”
The big picture of the pandemic and its impact on students often focuses on disappointment, mental health challenges, and lost opportunities. For Brosowske, however, it’s the bright moments that stand out.
“I am so glad I made the decision to come to Seward, and stay here,” he said. “It’s changed my life in a really positive way.”