Ryan Douglas, one of the first Phoenix Education Grant (PEG) scholarship recipients, has used the scholarship as a motivating and driving force throughout his undergrad college experience and during his early employment career. Ryan continues to use that same motivation today, while he continues to grow his family, with his wife and two children in Austin, Texas, and studies to earn an Executive MBA from Baylor University. His story is an inspiration in the burn community and one that the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors is proud to be a part of.
The PEG scholarship was a big boost for Ryan’s confidence going into college. Knowing he had support, not just financially, but having an organization that believed in him and his aspirations enough to award him that scholarship, was something he did not take lightly. It motivated him to keep pushing forward toward his ultimate goal of giving back to those that gave him so much. Ryan begins each day with the goal of living up to the qualifications of a PEG recipient.
Ryan explained that he faced the same challenges that every college student faces; meeting new people, establishing oneself after leaving home, and learning to become your own person. But he stated, “I didn’t want my burn injury to define me”, and he found that being open and honest about his experience, helped him break the ice and make new friends.
Ryan believes that the Phoenix Society’s support through the PEG Scholarship helped him focus on his goals and develop his sense of personal direction. He also explained how his experiences at Camp Cheley and conversations with Barbara Kammer-Quayle, former Phoenix Society Board member and PEG founder, helped him find the value in himself, as well as a passion for wanting to help others. His experience at Camp Cheley inspired his interest in youth development, and he eventually became a camp counselor at Camp Cheley.
Ryan is now the Operations Director for the Austin Rowing Club (ARC) in Austin, Texas. He currently manages the entire ARC staff and works to build the organization and its mission. He and his wife, Reeti, have one son, Naveen, and have recently welcomed a daughter, Layla Rani, into their family. He described his everyday life as, “very busy – but it’s all good things!”
His future plans after finishing his MBA are somewhat up in the air right now, but he would love to advance in his current organization, and continue to pursue a career in non-profit administration. He is also looking forward to seeing his children and family grow. Although Ryan doesn’t have a lot of spare time, when he does, he enjoys spending time with his family hiking and camping, traveling, and enjoys playing the guitar.
His advice for any future PEG applicant is to not take it lightly.
“It is a great opportunity and applicants should take it serious and be professional. Take your time to fill out the entire application, using good punctuation and vocabulary and have someone proofread your answers. “
Ryan advises applicants to not rely on their burn injuries to automatically earn them the scholarship. He encourages applicants to be honest and direct about who you are. Ryan knew when he was applying that he wasn’t an amazing student, but he knew he had a drive and direction, so his responses on the application were up front.
His advice for recent recipients: “Move forward with the opportunity and take it seriously. Also remember that you’re not alone. The Phoenix Society supports you and believes in you”.
As for new college students with burn injuries getting ready to enter college, Ryan advises, “Go about and experience every day and campus life. Don’t let the injury define you, rather use it as an opportunity as a conversation starter and tell your story. Being honest is the best strategy and that can help develop your self-confidence.”