"Take classes that aren’t “typical.” I first discovered the world of sports medicine when I was a senior at AOC. I had extra elective credits to use, so I enrolled in COC’s Athletic Injury Care and Prevention course. That was the turning point in my career. Prior to taking that class, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted a career in health care, but I had no path. Having access to COC classes is great because it’s a free pass to explore before you have to make any final decisions."
My undergraduate senior colloquium project. We conducted research on Orthorexia Nervosia, the extreme obsession with healthy eating, and how it relates to sport. We were selected to present our project at the Far West Athletic Trainer’s Association (FWATA) district conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
My career roadmap has been all over the place.
I took Care & Prevention for Athletic Injuries at COC. I discovered AT was my passion, and began applying to schools with AT programs.
I left Ohio State University after my freshman year. I then transferred to SDSU with junior status my sophomore year, and was accepted into the Athletic Training Program.
I became involved with my profession early. I presented my research at a district convention, attended national, district and state conventions, joined committees to connect with program alumni, and even traveled to the California State Capitol to lobby for the athletic training licensure bill. I joined the AT program Alumni Connection Committee and applied for a university grant to host the 50th anniversary alumni social, which I also helped to plan.
I completed two year-round clinical internships as part of my program. My first year I worked with San Diego Mesa College’s football, men’s soccer, women’s basketball and baseball teams. My second year I worked with SDSU’s rowing and women’s soccer teams.
I graduated SDSU with a B.S. in Athletic Training in 2018. I still didn’t know what direction I wanted to take my career, so I took a gap year.
During that year, I moved to Houston, Texas (by myself!!) for a residency in manual therapy. I was completely on my own, and developed a true sense of independence both personally and within my practice.
Fascinated with manual therapy and alternative rehab techniques, I completed my Sports Manual Therapy certification and became certified in Graston Technique. This helped me land my next job.
In 2019 I accepted a graduate assistantship at CSUN and began my Masters degree. I am about to begin my final year for both, and working on my thesis with the goal of publishing my research.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
National Honor Society: I didn’t hold an office, and if you don’t either I think that’s just fine. Participation in any way is great.
Patient care volunteer at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center: I volunteered here for almost 2 years. I assisted nurses with clean up, ran labs back and forth, helped with charting, and spent time with lonely patients. It was definitely a cool experience that exposed me to more jobs within the healthcare field.
I ran with the SOAR team junior and senior year. It was a wonderful experience that taught me grit, determination, and accountability.
I was an active Girl Scouts of America member from preschool until I graduated high school. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe this helped strengthen my college applications. If you’re still a Girl or Boy scout, stick with it. Commitment to service is a valuable attribute.
Part-time jobs at Hollister and Jamba Juice. I worked throughout high school to save money for college. I don’t regret it, especially since I had fun at each job. Not every experience needs to be volunteer. Working, even retail and food service shows you’re dependable and can work within a team.
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
Program internships. It was part of my education program, but it took up most of my time once I was in my ATP program.
Was an active member of SDSU’s Future Athletic Trainers’ Society student organization. We volunteered to provide athletic care at races, teach sports medicine topics to high school students, and lobbied for solutions against various athletic training issues.
Future Health Professionals Program- My freshman year I participated in a specialty organization for future health professionals. It was geared toward freshman students who applied for majors within the healthcare field. The program was geared around community service and leadership skill/team building.
Membership and certifications in related fields: I remained an active member of my district and national organizations. I continued to invest in my education beyond the minimum required, obtaining additional certifications and taking extra classes.
Cadaver dissections/surgical observation. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, I reached out to surgeons working with my school’s sports teams to observe surgeries of our athletes. When I was taking anatomy, my professor invited students to monthly or biweekly cadaver dissections which I attended frequently.
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
Currently, I am just beginning my second year in CSUN’s Kinesiology masters program emphasizing in Biomechanics. I also work as a graduate assistant athletic trainer within the sports medicine department. My primary sport is softball, and I am the secondary athletic trainer for the women’s soccer team. When I’m not working, I assist with research in the biomechanics lab. Prior to accepting my job at CSUN, I took a gap year to complete a manual therapy-focused AT residency in Houston, Texas. In the mornings I worked with outpatient surgical patients, and in the afternoons I served as the assistant AT at a local high school. It was an eye-opening experience working at a high school in an underserved area, and I feel like it made me a better clinician.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Make sure you’re choosing this path because you love it. Athletic training has a glamorous reputation, especially if you’re talking about Division I or profession sports. However, it’s anything but glamorous. AT requires hard work, long hours, and in most cases pays little. At times it feels like a grind, but it’s 100% worth it in the end when you see your athletes make their comeback from injury. If you’re in this for any other reason than wanting to help people, you’ll burn out.
Advice #2: It’s all about connections in the world of athletic training. Make as many connections as you can, and make them early. Be nice to everyone, because it truly is a small world. Don’t be afraid to reach out to more experienced people in the field to pick their brain or just have a conversation. It demonstrates your ability to take initiative.
Advice #3: Take classes that aren’t “typical.” I first discovered the world of sports medicine when I was a senior at AOC. I had extra elective credits to use, so I enrolled in COC’s Athletic Injury Care and Prevention course. That was the turning point in my career. Prior to taking that class, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted a career in health care, but I had no path. Having access to COC classes is great because it’s a free pass to explore before you have to make any final decisions.
Advice #4: Keep your experiences diverse. They don’t have to all fit into the realm of your future job/major. A wide variety of experience is crucial for discovering things about yourself, but also learning and growing as a person. For example, I only had one health care-related experience on my college applications. However, I had a part-time job, I participated frequently in community service, and I had a wide variety of EC activities. Athletic trainers need to be adaptable and critical thinkers. Having a diverse resume demonstrates those qualities.
Advice #5: Messing up is fine. I transferred schools within the first year of attending OSU. It wasn’t the right place for me, and that’s okay. I found a school eventually where I felt at home and where I excelled. Don’t settle; if something doesn’t feel right, reposition yourself in a spot where you can succeed.