CSU alum, actor Derek Theler returns to campus for ‘HES Extravaganza’

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CSU alumnus Derek Theler, an actor who co-stars in the Freeform comedy series Baby Daddy, visited campus this week to speak at the first annual “HES Extravaganza” hosted by the Department of Health and Exercise Science.

Theler, who graduated with a degree in health and exercise science with a concentration in sports medicine in 2008, has stayed in touch with HES Assistant Professor Brian Butki since then. Theler took courses with Butki and spent three summers working for him in the CSU Youth Sport Camps that Butki directs.

Theler, right, with HES department head Barry Braun
Theler, right, with HES department head Barry Braun

“I had some of the best years of my life here,” Theler told a crowd of HES students gathered on April 26 at the department’s new teaching facility east of Moby Arena. “I met some of my favorite people and best friends at CSU.”

The Extravaganza

His remarks came at the conclusion of the new HES event designed to celebrate the department and its research, community outreach programs and career opportunities. The extravaganza featured an address by former pro tennis player and Miramont Lifestyle Fitness founder Cliff Buchholz, giveaways, free pizza and remarks from outstanding HES seniors.

Theler, who minored in nutrition in another College of Health and Human Sciences unit — the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition — said one reason he chose that course of study is because he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. In addition to wanting to learn more about his condition, he wanted to help other diabetics.

“That got me interested in the health field,” he said, adding that he has an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system implanted in his body. “That kind of makes me a cyborg, I’m proud of that!”

He originally planned to go on to graduate school for physical therapy or nursing, but during a spring break trip to Los Angeles during his senior year at CSU, he talked to several actors and producers and decided to pursue a path in show business.

The actor posed for photos with many of the students who attended.
The actor posed for photos with many of the students who attended.

His CSU foundation

While his current career doesn’t have much to do with what he studied at CSU, Theler said the mindset, maturity and responsibilities associated with the rigorous degree program continue to serve him well. Plus, all of that cramming for exams didn’t exactly hurt his ability to memorize his lines.

“Hopefully someday I can play a doctor,” he said with a smile. “I could impress the producers with my knowledge of medicine.”

One of his top objectives, however, is to play a superhero — he even auditioned for the lead role in the movie Captain America.

Some of his fondest memories at CSU include partying at Wash Bar (he was crestfallen to hear that the 38-year-old Washington’s is closing this week), late-night meals from D.P. Dough and pulling all-nighters studying at Morgan Library.

“I know what it’s like to wake up for an 8 a.m. class on Friday,” he told the students. “I loved it here. I worked hard and celebrated hard. I had the full college experience, and I’m so glad I got my degree from CSU. I’ll always be grateful for that foundation.”

His final words of advice to students entering the field of health and exercise science?

“Our most precious commodity is time — you can give more of it to people,” Theler said. “And make the most of your time here at CSU, because it’s going to end quickly.”