Kingsley Kabari sitting with a professor at a desk and looking ad a spine model
Kabari ’08
“I have had wonderful guidance from key people in my life. I don’t want to disappoint them. I want to show them their investment has done well.”
At an age when most are learning the alphabet, Kingsley Kabari ’08 was helping his grandmother run a farm in Nigeria. As a pre-teen, he ran a shoe repair business and worked as a construction laborer to help provide for his family.

School was not an option for Kabari until he was 16 and after his family had immigrated to the United States in 1998, settling in Manchester, NH. The focus of his high school experience, though, was learning how to speak English, and his academic scores were significantly lower than he needed for college entrance. He worked an assortment of odd jobs, including training athletes at a YMCA. This sparked a desire for a college degree in exercise physiology, and Kabari’s relentless persistence was engaged.

Friends from Manchester High School were students at Plymouth State, and Kabari was determined that he, too, would gain admission. For weeks, he called Associate Director of Admissions David McBride daily to pave the way for enrollment. Always, McBride told Kabari his academic record was not acceptable.

“I was 21 years old. I had all this baggage,” Kabari says.

McBride eventually found a way to admit Kabari, and from that moment, Kabari’s hard work, dedication, and perseverance has propelled him forward. “I needed the support that Plymouth State provided,” says Kabari, now 37. “The University made sure my needs and concerns were met. There were people who cared for me personally.”

Fast-forward to today and Kabari is a doctor of chiropractic. Together with his wife, Alsia Kabari, who is also a physician, he runs the Kabari Wellness Institute. The comprehensive wellness corporation has two separate facilities in Seneca Falls and New Hartford, NY, near their home in Utica. Offerings range from Botox and hormone injections to hair care and mental health services. At the core is the work that is Kabari’s passion: fitness training and chiropractic care for injured athletes.

Admitted to PSU in a bridge program on the merit of his artwork, Kabari quickly changed his major to exercise physiology. “The first thing that I did was make sure I had a tutor. I didn’t wait to see if I would struggle,” he says. “I took advantage of the resources at the college.”

Kabari saw PSU’s rural environment in a positive light, as it kept him focused on his studies. He joined the Diversity Club, which connected him to other international students and gave him a sense of belonging and empowerment, as the club provided a platform for making suggestions to school administrators on how to better integrate students from diverse ethnicities. “Our recommendations and feedback were respected and honored by the school,” says Kabari. “I never felt out of place at Plymouth.”

Upon graduation, Kabari hopped in his car—still in his Commencement gown—and drove to Georgia, home to his sister and friends from a refugee camp he had lived in before coming to the US. His degree gave him an edge in the fitness industry, and he was the only one of 200 applicants to be hired at a Planet Fitness franchise. Three years later, he entered New York Chiropractic College after having seen firsthand how injured athletes had better results with chiropractic care than with medication or physical therapy alone.

After completing his chiropractic degree in 2014, Kabari opened a practice in a local Seneca Falls gym, where he worked with athletes with musculoskeletal injuries. In separate moves three years apart, he purchased the gym and the building it is in. He and his wife expanded operations to include holistic and conventional medicine, and their institute now provides a much-needed one-stop-shop for health and wellness in their rural community.

Kabari is the first in his family to graduate from college and earn an advanced degree, which he attributes to his own persistence and a lot of assistance from individuals and mentors such as those at PSU. “I have had wonderful guidance from key people in my life,” says the successful healthcare provider and entrepreneur. “I don’t want to disappoint them. I want to show them their investment has done well.” ■ Janice Beetle