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N4A Announces Student-Athletes of the Month for September 2017

Sept. 12, 2017

As student-athlete development professionals who work with many students from all walks of life on a day-to-day basis, often times we encounter extraordinary stories of individuals overcoming extreme adversities. Although the odds may be stacked against them, these individuals have a drive deep inside them to succeed in the face of overwhelming challenges. It is working with these outstanding young people that makes the job of a student-athlete development professional so rewarding.

In an effort to recognize and celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of these individuals, the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A) will highlight one or more student-athletes each month for their determination to achieve success regardless of personal, academic and emotional challenges.

For September, 2017, N4A is honored to recognize Sharif Finch (Temple University) and Joseph Gorman (St. Joseph's University).

Born into poverty in Queens, New York, Finch moved with his parents and siblings to Richmond, Virginia when he was eight. It was there that he was introduced to football, which would later become a pathway to a college education. Finch attended Temple University, playing linebacker and defensive end for the Owls football squad. While at Temple, Finch faced many challenges in the classroom, on the football field, and with his family. In his tenure, he had to overcome many surgeries, but with every injury, he fought and earned back his starting position again and again. Despite his resilience to make it back to the gridiron, Finch and his family were dealt a crushing blow during the summer of 2015. He lost his mother to breast cancer. Losing his mother – his rock – would lead him to questioning if he wanted to continue to play football, even if he wanted to stay at Temple. In the classroom, he struggled to find his way. After declaring his major and finding his passion academically, Finch graduated in the Fall of 2016, needing just three and a half years to complete his bachelor’s degree. With one more year of eligibility left, Finch is currently competing in his final season on the gridiron as an Owl, while pursuing a master’s degree.

Arguably, Gorman has faced more adversity in his 23 years than most do in a lifetime. Gorman, a first-generation student-athlete, decided to stay close to home and play baseball at St. Joseph’s University. Shortly into his time as a left-handed pitcher for the Hawks, an unfortunate accident in the weight room led to a hospital visit bringing his career to an abrupt halt. Gorman underwent surgery for a Chiari Malformation, which is a defect with the cerebellum in the brain, and his spine was deteriorating. An initial brain surgery was unsuccessful and was followed by an additional surgery in his left arm in hopes of regaining feeling. Unfortunately, Gorman did not get better following these surgeries and instead encountered numerous complications including contracting meningitis, which was treated heavily with steroids and eventually led to avascular necrosis in his left shoulder. As a result of the avascular necrosis, Gorman was the first person to undergo a trial surgery, which was successful and healed his shoulder. His surgeries and subsequent medical complications also impacted his cognitive abilities and presented challenges in the classroom. Ultimately, Gorman came back to baseball, making in seven appearances for the Hawks as redshirt senior. He has overcome incredible obstacles to create a successful foundation to raise money and awareness for Chiari Malformation and graduated in May 2017.

About N4A: N4A, which has been in existence since 1975, is a diverse educational service and professional non-profit organization. Membership of N4A includes academic support and student services personnel who are committed to enhancing opportunities for academic, athletics and personal success for student-athletes. For more information on N4A, visit www.nfoura.org. N4A is administered by NACDA, now in its 53rd year, administers 17 professional associations, including seven for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics directors. For more information on NACDA, visit www.nacda.com.