Outstanding health and exercise science grad and veteran student finds academic success at CSU

Josh TenborgVeteran Josh Tenborg says he wasn’t a successful student when he attended college the first time. After a seven-year hiatus, he returned to Colorado State University to earn his degree. Now, the Department of Health and Exercise Science student is graduating with academic honors.

Tenborg spent several years serving in the Navy before coming to CSU. He had been considering CSU for years after researching universities ranked as best for veterans.

“My wife is from Colorado and my family moved here while I was deployed, so I thought CSU would be ideal in many ways,” he said.

Because of his career goal to join the medical field, he found his way to CSU’s Department of Health and Exercise Science.

Time in the Navy

Tenborg’s struggles with college the first time around led him to look for another path. He decided to join the Navy to move in a positive direction by enlisting as a Corpsman.

Josh Tenborg with Naval Officers
Josh Tenborg, center, at his promotion ceremony in the Navy to HM2, Hospital Corpsman Second Class Petty Officer.

“As a Corpsman and behavioral health technician, we provide medical and mental health care to active duty, reservists, and veterans, including their dependents,” said Tenborg. “This fulfilled what I wanted to do – to help people. It was not always easy though. We were short-staffed for an increasing patient load. We did not always have clinic support or functioning necessities. Thankfully, I had several outstanding mentors who helped me achieve success.”

Tenborg said his senior medical officer in the Navy inspired him to pursue a medical career which led to his decision to enroll in the sports medicine concentration in health and exercise science.

Support from professors

Returning to a rigorous science program after such a long break, Tenborg faced academic obstacles early on.

“I had to relearn college-level mathematics during the summer before the first semester. Chemistry was also very difficult for me, and I eventually needed to be able to progress through a full year of organic chemistry by starting over,” said Tenborg.

“My professors and advisers were critical to my success,” said Tenborg. “My adviser went above and beyond for me and took a personal role in my success. My professors were there for me every step of the way, ready to answer all my questions and give pieces of advice to be successful in my classes. It was the relationships that were formed with them that guided me to be where I am now.”

Activities and accomplishments

During his time at CSU, Tenborg was a counselor for the Youth Sports Camps in summer 2020. The staff consisted of current and former students and were wonderful to work with, he said.

“I volunteered at a local coffee shop strictly run by volunteers to foster community,” said Tenborg. He also worked as a stagehand for a local audio-visual company.

Tenborg is most proud of how much he improved academically from being a C student prior to CSU to graduating cum laude.

“Succeeding academically gave me the tools and a desire to help other students, who are quickly becoming long term friends,” he said.

He finished an upper level organic chemistry course with an A and became a teaching assistant in several courses, which led to him helping other students be more successful as well.

Adjusting during COVID-19

When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, Tenborg was able to adjust and remain disciplined.

“This situation has many silver linings, and it is simply a matter of finding them in your journey,” said Tenborg. “Learning is an active process and setting up an environment that enhances learning is essential. I have also learned that finding a quality group to work with is critical to learning and making the material memorable.”

After graduating, Tenborg will start applying to Physician Assistant programs in the spring. He also hopes to be looking for ways to volunteer and gain valuable experiences to prepare him for his future career.

As Tenborg reminisces on his time here, he will miss his professors the most.

“Here at CSU, the vast majority of professors I’ve had the privilege to learn from and to teach for have changed my outlook and level of success in innumerable ways. I cannot thank them enough,” he said.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences

Emily Pisqui contributed to this story.