As part of this year’s academic theme, Share Your Story, we recently sat down with Matthew Ibrahim, a Clinical Coordinator and Instructor of Exercise Science at Endicott who is teaching students to embrace problem-solving in life’s unexpected challenges.
Matthew Ibrahim likes to set ambitious goals. He isn’t afraid of a heavy lift—whether it’s in the gym or the classroom.
You can find Ibrahim on , posting stories in the Endicott weight room, lunging with kettlebells, squatting with barbells, deadlifting double his weight, and demonstrating Copenhagen side planks with perfect form.
He might make it all look easy to his viewers, but Ibrahim’s path hasn’t been so straightforward.
What makes the Clinical Coordinator and Instructor of Exercise Science so incredibly relatable is that he’s failed, dusted himself off, kept going, and succeeded many times along the way.
Growing up in Medford, Mass., Ibrahim played soccer and basketball and binge-read back issues of Men’s Health magazine as a teenager. Unsurprisingly, he chose to study exercise and health sciences in college, graduating from UMass Boston in 2013 with a 2.961 GPA.
“The only reason I memorized that number is that it took me six years to finish that bachelor’s degree and I failed a bunch of classes—13 of them to be exact,” he said bluntly.
Ibrahim freely admits that he initially didn’t apply himself. It took flunking out on academic probation to push him towards a remarkable comeback.
“At first I didn’t think I needed to look in the mirror and think about how I could be better,” he said. “But I firmly believe that even if I could go back and change what happened, I wouldn’t for any reason whatsoever because I’ve learned a lot.”
He learned so much that UMass Boston now invites Ibrahim back every year to share his journey in a motivational talk for current students.
Just like Rocky Balboa, the hero of his favorite movie franchise, Ibrahim had to fight hard to get on track—jockeying his way back into school, completing his degree, and starting his own business, where he worked as a strength and conditioning coach for 15 years. There, he served everyone from elite athletes to the residents of a local senior center.
At night, he took classes at a community college to hit the prerequisites for doctoral programs in physical therapy. He applied to all five schools in the greater Boston area offering the degree over three consecutive years and was rejected 15 times.
Just the way he pushes through an impossibly hard set in the gym, Ibrahim refused to admit defeat. He kept going.
Now in his final year of a Ph.D. in human and sport performance at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Ibrahim said, “I’ve been paid to speak at three of these schools since then. I’m also getting an additional M.S. in sport leadership at Endicott at the same time.”
He’s pursuing the Endicott degree to be even more qualified to teach in the field and relate to students and colleagues as he grows in academia.
This experience as a non-traditional student uniquely positions Ibrahim to advise Gulls as a Clinical Coordinator of internships in the School of Sport Science—and as an advisor to freshman students, a role he takes extremely seriously.
“Everything is new to them at college,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure. I use the analogy of what the boxing coach Mickey Goldmill was to Rocky. Mickey wasn’t climbing the mountain for Rocky, but he was helping to guide him and showing him understanding.”
Ibrahim respects each student as an individual and tries to pass on his love for problem-solving to them as well. It’s all about approaching a challenge from different angles and with curiosity until something clicks.
For Ibrahim, it was cracking the secret to his learning style that was critical to his ultimate academic success. “Now I know that I need to touch, feel, and watch. I thrive in a group setting. When I read something in a textbook it doesn’t stick unless I physically do it,” he explained.
His latest learning curve has come while learning jiu-jitsu. “It’s like mental chess for my body,” Ibrahim explained. “My goal with trying a new sport is to constantly challenge myself mentally and physically, but to also learn and grow. It is serving that purpose and humbling me in the process.”
He stresses to his students too that there is no one way to pass an exam, ace an internship, or build a career as an exercise science professional.
Slowly shifting from fitness entrepreneur to academic, Ibrahim first worked as an adjunct faculty at Endicott before starting full-time in 2023. He called his future colleagues at Endicott regularly to express interest in a full-time role until several years later one finally became available. “I’m not the smartest, but I’m always the best team player,” he said humbly. “Whatever the team needs—I’m there. It’s the same on a basketball team as it is at Endicott as part of an academic team.” He’s the first one to raise his hand and step up.
Next up for Ibrahim is walking across that stage to receive a Ph.D. this August, and the release of his first book forthcoming from publisher Human Kinetics, tentatively titled Performance Playbook: Championship Training for the Everyday Athlete. Much of what he wrote about he also teaches at Endicott in EX 311 (Exercise Program Design), a course in which students become proficient in developing exercise training programs for clients and athletes, a real-world skill that many will use in their future careers.
Many of Ibrahim’s students are also fans of his where he’s built a library of more than 2,000 tutorials, or on Instagram. He loves it when they ask him questions about how to tackle a problem.
His advice? “Don’t rush. Take your time. Whether it’s your first lift, internship, or job, you’re in the right position. You need to be yourself. And remember, mistakes are not deal breakers—just an opportunity to build greater strength, try again, and keep moving.”
Ibrahim will host and give the opening remarks at the Sport Performance Clinic, powered by Endicott’s School of Sport Science, on March 9. The clinic also features Endicott’s Assistant Director Athletics/Athletic Performance/Health Care Administrator James Daley and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Jack Dustin.
The clinic is free for 香港六合彩开奖结果 students majoring in exercise science or athletic training. .