Stephen Chabak, a Middletown native and resident, graduated from Middletown High School in 1987. Without any help in life or education or career planning from his family, Stephen attended Central Connecticut State University right after high school. But he quit after eight weeks.
In the next spring semester, he enrolled in two classes at Middlesex Community College. After that, he attended a massage therapy school in Newington for 15 months.
Following massage school, Stephen returned to Middlesex as a full-time student for two years to earn the prerequisites needed to transfer into an accredited physical therapy program.
“I chose Middlesex because it was local and affordable. The classes were small, and I had really good teachers,” Stephen said. “I liked all of my professors at Middlesex, and I still have my transcript.”
“I had Mr. Myers for physics, Skip Whiley for chemistry, Mr. Serb for philosophy, Jim Childs and William Grady for English. Liked them all!” he added.
Stephen said he graduated from Middlesex with an associate in science on a Friday or Saturday in May 1991 and began studying physical therapy at UConn the following Monday.
“Thousands of people apply to PT school and only 30 get in, and many had four-year degrees or applied to the program more than once. I got in on the first try with my associate degree from Middlesex,” Stephen said.
Two years later in 1993, he earned a bachelor of science in physical therapy from UConn. For a year during that time, he was also the massage therapist for the women’s basketball team.
“I have now worked as a licensed physical therapist for 30 years including seven years that I took care of two California state prisons that held over 12,000 maximum security inmates. I was also a traveling physical therapist for a few years and have worked in many nursing homes and in home healthcare,” Stephen said.
He now owns Redwood Physical Therapy, an outpatient clinic located in Middletown, where he works with the general public.
In the years after high school, Stephen participated in dance classes at Wesleyan University, Trinity College, and the School of the Hartford Ballet. He has performed with a few dance companies, including the Sonia Plumb Dance Company, where he served as a board member. He is also a licensed pilot, rated for single-engine, fixed-gear aircraft.
“I have very fond memories of Middlesex and was happy to see recently that Connecticut Community Colleges are ranked number one in the United States,” Stephen said.
“The classes are small, and the teachers are good and accessible. What more could you ask for?”