Health and Sport Sciences prepares students to be professionals upon graduation
by Jamie Rollo ’11
Otterbein University’s Department of Health and Sport Sciences gives students a large selection of opportunities in the community to learn, grow and become better prepared as professionals when they graduate. In a world where jobs are hard to come by, the department provides students with important connections to secure employment after graduation.
During the recent conversion to semesters, the department took advantage of an opportunity to re-examine what Health and Sport Sciences offers their students. This year’s “Best New Teacher” award winner, Assistant Professor of Allied Health Shelley Payne, said, “Joan Rocks (department chair) asked us to keep the Five Cardinal Experiences very much in our minds as we developed our curriculum. She asked us to really look at our curriculum as what do we love, what did we see that could be better, and what goals do we have for our students?”
Payne said there was also a focus on teaching students to be professionals. “A very big thing that we stress from day one with our students is what it means to be a professional.”
Each program has been created carefully to provide students with the tools necessary to become qualified professionals when they graduate. Department Chair Joan Rocks said, “What I am most proud of, and really enjoy, is the faculty-to-student interaction and relationships that are formed throughout the students’ four years here. We strive to put students first and we spend a great deal of time with them.”
At the very first meeting with department advisors, students are placed into one of six programs based on their career goals. Majors are offered in Allied Health, Athletic Training, Health Education, Health Promotion and Fitness, Physical Education and Sport Management.
During their freshman and sophomore years, students are required to spend at least 30 hours working with a career professional in their area of study. Alumni provide many of these real-world experiences. “Graduates really have so many opportunities afforded to them once they leave here, whether they choose to get right into a career, or whether they choose to pursue graduate education. It makes our interaction with them in helping to develop that path very exciting,” Payne said.
There are many service learning opportunities within the community along the way. Otterbein students have had the opportunity to interact with the community at events like the Commit To Be Fit program, events with children with disabilities, and fundraising events.
Health Promotion and Fitness major Kailee Miller ’12, who was recently honored as a Health Educator of the Year for 2012 by the American Association of Health Educators, received a $500 grant for “ShareBacAPac.” Miller helped create the program with Sherry Williamson ’05. The program feeds Westerville children over the weekend during the school year.
Students also volunteered recently at the Jingle Bell Run and the Columbus Marathon to provide medical support. Opportunities such as these give students a chance to work with the public and gain a better understanding of the career they may choose. “You never know when you’re going to make that contact. You never know when you’re going to network and open a door you never knew existed that ends up being a great opportunity,” said Payne.
Sport Management and Broadcasting major Lauren Cool ’14 received professional experience in her field by interning with the Columbus Blue Jackets this past spring. Cool conducted pre- and post-game interviews with players and coaches, put together stories of what the players do on and off the ice, and covered various fan events that went on during the game.
Another opportunity that students have is to create and present groundbreaking research in their field. Each student is required to create and present an original research project during their senior year, and many of those projects have gone on to be presented at state symposiums. “It’s exciting. To see them get to these symposiums and win these awards against very competitive athletic training programs from around the state of Ohio … they’re up against (larger) schools and they’re winning. We’re very proud of that,” said Payne.
In 2011, athletic training student Olivia Roberts ’11 presented her research at the Ohio Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting and Symposium in Dayton, Ohio. Roberts became the very first Otterbein student to receive the Outstanding Entry Level Student Award from the Research Free Communications Committee of the Ohio Athletic Trainers’ Association.
This past spring, Athletic Training students Jenny Ruano ’12 and Kevin Gallagher ’12 became the second set of Otterbein students to win the award on their research project, “Comparison of the Triple Hop for Distance and the Y-Balance Test in Healthy Collegiate Division III Male and Female Athletes.”
It’s the result of a staff that truly wants the best for their students, and students taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities available to them at Otterbein. “What sets us apart is our dedicated faculty to all of our student needs and the off-campus opportunities that provide real-life experience,” said Rocks.