Degree(s), Graduation Year(s): BS (Physics, Minors: Math & Interdis. Sci.), 2018; MA (Kinesiology & Sport Mgmt., Spec.: Exercise Science), 2019
Occupation: KSU: Graduate Research Assistant, Teaching Fellow, Grad. Student Trustee. USD: Adjunct Instructor.
Company: Kent State University, University of South Dakota
Location: Ashland, OH
Describe your current professional or educational pursuits. (What does your position entail? What skills do you use in your current role? What are you hoping to accomplish with your education? etc.)
I currently work as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Motor Control Laboratory at Kent State University. I am pursuing my PhD in Exercise Physiology, specializing in the use of exercise in improving health outcomes of people with neurodegenerative disease. I have a particular interest in the use of resistance training (e.g. lifting weights) and in the experiences of women with neurodegenerative disease. Alongside research and my own coursework, I also serve as Kent State’s Graduate Student Trustee on the Board of Trustees and as a Kent State Graduate College Teaching Fellow.
I rely heavily on skills learned at USD to perform well in my current work. My roles require clear communication, critical thinking, a strong work ethic and creativity. My degree in physics taught me an appreciation for science and trained me to problem-solve effectively. As a soccer and track student-athlete (and later, volunteer assistant coach) at USD, I picked up a love for exercise that I’ve carried into my professional career. Finally, my experience as a TA and instructor at USD inspired me to pursue my PhD to continue a career in higher education.
After finishing my doctoral degree, I plan to complete a postdoctoral fellowship focused on clinical applications of exercise before pursuing work as a university faculty member. I intend to produce research illustrating the benefits of exercise and designing effective training protocols for people who are aging and/or experiencing neurodegenerative disease.
How did USD influence your personal and professional experiences following graduation?
USD has steered almost every part of my life.
After graduating with my BS in Physics, I chose to finish my MA in Kinesiology and Sport Management and work as a Teaching Assistant during my fifth year of eligibility on the track and field team. I had initially played soccer at USD, and walked on to the track team and found success throwing hammer.
I then made the choice to train post-collegiately for the hammer throw at USD, first while working at the Wellness Center and then as a Visiting Assistant Professor within the Kinesiology and Sport Management department. Athletic highlights included a Top-40 world ranking in the women’s hammer throw, a bronze medal at the 2022 USATF Indoor Championships, and a spot in finals at the 2021 US Olympic Trials. I served as a Volunteer Assistant Coach with the USD Track and Field team during this time.
In 2022 I found myself at a crossroads. I had thoroughly enjoyed my experience teaching at USD, and knew I wanted to continue a career in higher education. I decided to hang up the hammer throw and combine my two interests of sport and health into a PhD in Exercise Physiology at Kent State University. And here we are!
On a personal note, many of my closest relationships can be traced to USD. I met my fiancé (husband as of 9/9/23!) through collegiate track and field, and he eventually moved to South Dakota to train post-collegiately in Vermillion. One of my favorite memories is competing together at the Olympic Trials in 2021, both in the hammer throw. Some of my best friends were fellow athletes at USD – track, soccer and swimming.
I’ll always be thankful for the people I met at USD and for the professors, mentors and coaches who pushed me to do more than I thought I could do.
How have you demonstrated success and influence in your profession and community?
I’d like to start my sharing more about my work at USD post-graduation. As an instructor and coach, I worked with hundreds of USD students in and out of the classroom. I taught classes like Biomechanics, Intro to Research and Stress Management; and I still work as an adjunct instructor teaching Stress Management. I think that influence can best be traced to the experiences of my students and the athletes that I worked with. I did my best each day to provide the most valuable education possible, centered around a supportive, positive and challenging environment.
I also believe that my current roles demonstrate a positive trajectory in my career.
Returning to school to start my PhD after a few years focused on athletics and teaching was a bit intimidating. I did my best to hit the ground running like I learned at USD, and it’s gone well so far. This year I was appointed to the Kent State Board of Trustees by the Ohio governor’s office for a two-year term. In this role, I represent all KSU graduate students in Board of Trustees discussions. I also am serving as a Graduate College Teaching Fellow, where I collaborate to train new TAs across all graduate programs to teach effectively and well.
My influence in the future will likely be centered around the populations that my research will focus on, as well as students and mentees. I engage with all of those groups now, and do my best to provide the same supportive, positive and challenging environment that USD showed me.