Former Anderson High School student honored for work, life-saving care at the school

When the school day ends at Anderson High School, Donjanae Chamberlain’s athletic training room swells with students. Each day, within 15 minutes of the last class ending, at least 50 students filter in and out.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Chamberlain said. “You can be sitting there, and someone can go into cardiac arrest. You can be sitting there, and someone breaks their ankle.”

On the first day of this school year, a teacher went into cardiac arrest near Chamberlain’s room. She saw the principal performing chest compressions so she got the defibrillator started. Together, they were able to regain a pulse until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Because of her fast action that day, and her work to build Anderson’s athletic training program, Chamberlain was chosen as a finalist for the Henry Schein Medical's Athletics and Schools Rising Star Award. The award, presented by the health care supplies business, recognizes athletic trainers in their first five years in the industry.

 When Chamberlain received the email that she had been nominated for the award, she ignored it, thinking it was spam. But when it kept floating to the top of her inbox, she decided to open it.

“At first, I was like, ‘Do I deserve this?’” Chamberlain said.

She was hesitant to send in a biography but relented. She posted that she had been nominated on social media. To her surprise, others believed she absolutely deserved the honor.

“You don’t really see that every day when you’re doing your job,” Chamberlain said of the support. “I mean, you tape an ankle and you’re taping an ankle. But then you see all those paragraphs under your (social media) posts.”

Even though Chamberlain didn't win the award, she said the outpouring of appreciation made her “feel cherished by the Anderson community.”

As a former student and athlete of Anderson High School, Chamberlain knows that being an athletic trainer at the school is her calling. She offers advice to students about teachers she used to have and tries her best to prepare them for college.

Chamberlain is especially concerned with promoting actions and habits that not only treat injuries but prevent them, like icing muscles each day rather than occasionally. She said her one of her goals is to encourage students to make their own health care decisions. She tries to give them a variety of treatment options and allows them to decide what might be best for their body.

Chamberlain had initially hoped to do athletic training for professional sports, but now that her career has started, she said she's satisfied at the high school level. She might try to venture out into college athletics at a small college, but that's off into the future, she said.

"I feel like I have a way bigger impact on individuals in general," Chamberlain said. "I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be."

Since 2021 the Henry Schein's Medical's Athletics and Schools Rising Star Award recognizes the work of athletic trainers in the first five years of their careers.

Communities nationwide nominate athletic trainers, and a group of judges, all athletic trainers themselves, select a group of finalists. People can vote online to choose a winner from the group of finalists.

The national director of sales for Henry Schein Medical's Athletics and Schools business, Eric Kearns, called it "the 'American Idol' of athletic trainers."

By seeing early-career trainers receive recognition for their work, Kearns expects it will inspire people still in school to pursue and stick with athletic training.

"In the early stages it's a grind," Kearns said. "I want to reward folks who are in the grind."

This article appeared in Indianapolis Star: