Emma Brinton

U.S. Olympic swimming trials qualifier, wants to work with orthopedic patients

Emma Brinton has never been shy about reaching for bigger goals. To fulfill her dream of competing in the U.S. Olympic trials, the Duquesne University swimmer upped her training regimen to knock nearly a second off of her swim times and qualify for the event this summer, all while completing her bachelor's degree in Health Sciences with a 3.68 grade point average.

"Emma is a very determined person," said Dave Sheets, head coach of Duquesne's women's swim team. "She's the greatest swimmer ever at Duquesne, but she's also an amazing student."

Brinton, who is currently working in clinical rotations as she earns her Physician Assistant master's degree, credits her coaches and professors for the support needed to reach her goals.

"It's a tough balance to manage both athletics and academics successfully," the Landenberg, Pennsylvania native said. "But I received a ton of support from everyone at Duquesne. There was a lot of communication and meetings with professors and coaches so I could manage my time effectively."

That time included swimming in the morning, followed by 18-credit course loads, then training, then more swimming, then homework. Yet Ema said the lessons learned will last her a lifetime.

"I learned a lot about time management, making priorities and working hard," she said. "If I wanted to do something, I made a plan to make it happen."

She takes that same dedication to her profession as a physician assistant, as her clinical rotations place her in different health care settings. Being an athlete, Emma said she is especially interested in working with orthopedic patients.

"I definitely chose the right profession," she said. "Anatomy was one of my favorite classes because it was a deep dive into the human body. That's when I knew I was in the right place."

While quiet in the classroom, Emma was so well-organized she never needed to ask for extra time even when her schedule was tight, said Dr. Bridget Calhoun, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the University's Rangos School of Health Sciences.

"With all her accolades, Emma is a humble and lovely person," Calhoun said. "She is very determined and will be successful in whatever she chooses to do."

Emma also noted the support of her teammates and classmates in helping her to reach her goals.

"We really became close over the years," she said. "We would share notes, study guides and prepare for tests together. We had each other's backs, learning together in a really supportive environment. The same teamwork needed in sports was just as important to my classwork."

Emma said her studies have prepared her for anything as a physician assistant, and she looks forward to starting her career.

"My time at Duquesne has prepared me to focus on my next set of goals," she said. "There is no limit to what you can do as long as you have a plan and support from those around you."

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January 07, 2022