Graduate School Personal Statement

My passion for athletics developed long before I decided I was going to go to college for athletic training.  For most of my life I have been an athlete, specializing in field hockey for over ten years.  As a former athlete, I fully understand the commitment and passion an athletic trainer must possess to be successful.  As a former coach, I fully understand the role an athletic trainer plays in the dynamics of a team.  As a future athletic trainer, I hope to bring my knowledge of all aspects of sport to prevent and treat injuries and advocate for athletes to the best of my abilities.

Athletic training was my first choice of a major before I enrolled at Plymouth State University in the fall of 2012.  After transferring to a different institution for the fall of 2013 and changing my major many times, I was not sure what my direction would be. In the spring of 2016, I completed two associates’ degrees and decided to take a year off to figure out what path I wanted to pursue.  With careful thought and much research, my decision landed me right back to where I started my education.  The professional athletic training program here at Plymouth State caught my eye while researching graduate school programs.  After learning a little bit more about this program I whole-heartedly decided I was going to pursue it.

Returning to Plymouth State this fall gave me an opportunity to complete the prerequisites courses for the professional athletic training program and receive a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies.  My focus is in Sports Medicine, an umbrella term that encompasses many disciplines and professions including athletic training, physical education, and health education: the main disciplines of my coursework.  The courses I am enrolled in this year are helping to develop a well-rounded base of education and knowledge that I will be able to draw from during my time in graduate school.

I want to be an athletic trainer most simply because I want to help athletes perform to the best of their abilities.  One of my main passions is to advocate for not only the physical health of athletes but also their mental health, which is equally as important but many times forgotten.  I have a particular interest in the reduction of overuse injuries and prevention, recognition, diagnosis and treatment of concussions.  Being an athletic trainer has been my dream since I was sixteen years old.  Now as an almost twenty-four year old, I know that I have chosen the right path for my passion to flourish.

As an athletic trainer I hope to work in collegiate sports (possibly beyond) and make a difference in the way athletes’ mental health is approached and assessed.  I hope to be affiliated with the NATA and the EATA hopefully someday becoming an officer in one of these associations.  My qualities as a dedicated student will translate into dedication to athletic training practices.  The passion I have will continue to burn the more knowledge I gain throughout the rest of my education.

A Breath of Fresh Air

The first time I heard someone talk about being an IDS major I was a freshman at Plymouth State, in 2012.  Her name was Cari and she was interested in

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athletic training, just as I am.  While back then I was an athletic training major, things have obviously changed.  I’m not sure what her program was, and I definitely did not know what IDS was.  Even when my advisor suggested I finish my undergraduate education as an IDS major, I had no idea what that meant.  From January of 2017 to the first day of Intro to IDS in September I quite literally had no idea what I was in for or what IDS was.  I had no idea what the class would be like, or how well I would do in the class.  The biggest question I had sitting in my brain was “Well what am I going to be able to do with a bachelor’s degree in IDS if I don’t end up getting into grad school?” This wasn’t really a question of mine, it was my dad’s biggest question in me returning to school.

I moved to campus on August 14th of 2017, three weeks before classes were starting for community advisor training.  In the first meeting of my staff of course we go around the table and introduce ourselves, what our major is, where we are from, etc.  On this fateful day I met a fellow IDS major, little did I know that she would become my best friend here and also my IDS mentor.  We didn’t discuss what IDS was at all; I sort of wanted to find that out on my own.

On the first day of Intro to IDS I had no idea what to expect.  I sat in the back of

Kayleigh and I enjoying PSU Men’s Rugby Photo By: Madisen Giordano

the class, not seeing any familiar faces in the crowd.  After the first day I was drowning, so overwhelmed.  Although I didn’t know what to expect, what I had learned this course would be like made me dread what the semester was going to be like.  Being a super old fashioned student gets the best of me sometimes.  I mean it is 2017, I should know as an almost 24 year old adult that technology is in the forefront of every facet of life; and now it was taking over an entire college course.  I was so nervous in the first few weeks, not about building a program and getting it approved (I knew that was going to be the easy part for me) but building a functioning website, formulating blog posts,

connecting with professionals in a personal learning network, I was petrified.  I came to realize there was nothing to fear, the IDS program has a built in support system in the way of an amazing professor/program director, peer support, and the IDS office staff (aka Janina).

Before this class had started, I had tried to field tons of questions about what my major was.  Every person that asked what I was studying got the same answer “Interdisciplinary Studies!” I would say enthusiastically.  They would look at me like, HUH? And say so what exactly is that? And I’d reply just as enthusiastically, “I have no idea!”  The person would nervously laugh, shake their head and walk away thinking ’that girl is nuts.’  After the first few weeks of class were over, when I was asked the same type of question I would reply, ‘Well I’m an interdisciplinary studies major, and I’ve basically gotten the opportunity to create my very own, unique major.”  While this still made people kind of confused, I felt like that was the only way I could explain it.  Now, at the end of a very long, in-dep

Photo By: Plymouth State University

th semester of studying IDS; what it is, what the variations of it are, why it’s important, how it’s going to help me in the future, etc. I can confidently say my knowledge on what IDS is has done a complete 180.  If someone now was to ask me what it means what I say I’m an IDS major, they might become infuriated with the annoying amount of information I throw at them.  IDS has helped me develop a passion for a different approach to learning, which was really nothing new to me, it just had a name and a definition in my brain, finally.

Interdisciplinarity is an essential part of education, society and life.  Simply put, it is the combining of two or more disciplines used to work towards a common goal.  Being an athlete for most of my childhood and a coach for most of my adult life so far, the easiest way for me to define Interdisciplinarity is relating it to sports, even easier, the sport I love so very much, field hockey.  In field hockey there are 11 players on the field to compete in a game, against another 11 player.  You have some forwards, some mid-fielders, some defense, and a goalie.  Much like an IDS program where the disciplines involved may be slightly similar or complete polar opposites, all the members of a team are slightly similar in that they are athletically inclined, but also polar opposites in their abilities.  Some players are sharp shooters and can score goals on any goalie out there, where some are such great defenders that no one on their team or any others can get past them while keeping possession, with the rest of the players having a solid mix of these qualities.  All these styles of players unite for one common goal, winning.  Much like an IDS program where all the disciplines ‘unite’ to give a unique program of study that not only achieves the end goal of receiving a degree, but also instils a sense of accomplishment, passion and creativity in the student.

The more I have learned about Interdisciplinarity, the more I start to realize it is essential in all facets of life.  It is my understanding that interdisciplinary studies programs do not exist at my universities across the US, and that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.  College is supposed to be a time of exploration, not only into ones education but in one’s self and abilities.  When a student is made to choose a major and follow a rigid program of study, only being able to advance every year with appropriate grades in select courses and an overall GPA meeting requirements, it allows students to fall

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into the ‘I’m just doing this to get a degree and get a job’ mentality.  When in all reality, they are paying for their education and every single student should have the opportunity to have a unique learning experience tailored to where they want to go in life.  If a student is okay with being ‘just another student’ in ‘just another major’ then fine so be it, and allow them to do so.  But if a student is starving for something more, craving passion in their education, IDS should be an option for them.  IDS helps to create a more well-rounded education, including classes from may disciplines and forcing students to be creative in how to connect and interlace their disciplines within their program.

Interdisciplinarity matters to the world because major problems and projects would not cultivate to fruition without an interdisciplinary approach.  One could hire experts or specialists in various fields and ask them to collaborate on a project together; you may expect this to go very well, for it to be a successful project.  Well, you’d probably be wrong.  Specialists in disciplines tend to believe the way they do things on their own is the best or only way, they know what they know, and not much else.

In my opinion, one of the best chapters in the textbook had an article titled Standing Alone.  In this article the author, Carly Ristuccia, discussed metacognition and its relation to Interdisciplinarity.  Metacognition is defined as ‘awareness of your own learning and thinking processes.’  Ristuccia says the IDS fosters the ideals of metacognition encouraging the students that find themselves in the IDS program to be independent thinkers and in touch with their education.  While I have always been very cognizant of my education goals and my learning processes, this year has really opened my eyes to what I want from my education, and how I can get what I want regardless of the class or professor.  A mantra that I firmly believe to be applicable to education is ‘you get out what you put in.’

Vartan Gregorian wrote “The fundamental problem underlying the disjointed curriculum is the fragmentation of knowledge itself.”  This sentence from Gregorian’s Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge, really resonated with me.  For the past six years I’ve been in higher education, I’ve explored many disciplines; the major I have chosen to study in graduate school is also a collection of many disciplines.  Universities and colleges create rigid majors without crossing of disciplines and expect students to meet GPA requirements without having the opportunity to meander across disciplines: something that develops critical thinking skills and keeps students in touch with their passion for learning.

In The Challenges of Doing Interdisciplinary Work, Janina Misiewicz discusses the barriers of Interdisciplinarity: attitude, communication, academic structure, funding and career development.  Of these five, attitude and funding stick out the most to me, while I feel academic structure applies to my personal program.  The attitude of scholars unwilling to collaborate with those who do interdisciplinary work is huge.  Those who do not understand the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach may not be as bright as they think they are especially specialists or ‘masters’ in a field.  Funding is a major problem that stretches across higher education as a whole; its problems are not an easy fix.  Shifting funding to allow students to have more freedom in their education should be on the top of universities priority lists, but as well all know, it is not.  Before returning to Plymouth State this fall I was incredibly displeased with the structure of the program I was in at my previous institution.  While I still achieved very good grades and earned two degrees, I felt as though I was in a revolving door of classes and information, which was not changed in the two years I spent taking movement science classes.  Being an IDS major at PSU has given me the breath of fresh air I was searching for after taking a yearlong break from academia.

The closer I get to graduating with my Bachelor’s degree, the more I realize I’m slowly but surely achieving every academic goal I have set for myself.  Almost six years ago I graduated from high school, at that point I didn’t think I would be receiving my third degree in five years of schooling, I thought I was going to follow the ‘normal’ college journey: four years at Plymouth State, and a one to two year graduate program at a bigger university.  Back then, I didn’t know it

Dream Job includes Death Valley at Clemson University CCBY Erik Larson

was okay to take the path less traveled, but now I know sometimes the path less traveled is a better route for some people.  The near future for me holds graduate school in a competitive, fast paced major.  Beyond that I hope to get a great job at a big university in Boston, South Carolina, Texas or Colorado (of course I will go pretty much anywhere I am offered a good job).  One of my major goals for the future is to work at a university that offers free courses to its employees.  After working for a few years and paying down all the student loans I have accrued, I hope to be admitted to a PhD program.  While I have a burning passion to be on the side lines of major league sports (specifically the NFL, but I’d take any of the four major sports), I also have a passion for spreading knowledge and I hope to be a professor of athletic training someday, when I no longer want to work in the field.  A huge dream of mine is to be an athletic trainer for an international sport club (field hockey, rugby or soccer) and have the opportunity to live overseas and travel the world.

My hopes for the IDS program at Plymouth State are that it continues to grow stronger and stronger with every passing year, with more students and new unique programs.  I hope the IDS department and Dr. Robin DeRosa eventually gain recognition across the higher education community and more universities offer and IDS option in their degree programs.  Not only do I hope this for just the IDS program but also for pedagogy of the IDS courses: Openly licensed textbooks (FREE ACCESS), pass/fail grades, and creating a portfolio of work on the web (following The Domain of Our Own project).  IDS and Dr. DeRosa have helped shift my old school education style to one that is more updated, and most importantly this shift wasn’t done reluctantly or just because I had to do it: it was done thoughtfully with in class discussions about the importance and the evolution of technology in the class room.

Shout-out to one of the best professors I’ve had in a long time: Thanks for a great semester Robin!  Looking forward to Senior Seminar next semester!

 

Changing the Way We Learn

As my first semester in the IDS program comes to a close, I have grown more academically and personally than I have in the past five years as a college student.  IDS has given me an opportunity to be as creative and articu

Loving every minute at PSU
Photo by Madisen Giordano

late as I want to be, while still providing guidance on certain things I thought I could

never achieve.  As of now I can say the best part of this course started out as my worst nightmare….Twitter.  As a high school student I loved tweeting, my graduating class even voted me “Best Tweeter of the Class of 2012.”  As I grew older the novelty of just another social media platform faded.  Dr. Robin DeRosa changed the way I looked at Twitter from just another social media thing to the idea of a personal learning network (PLN).  A personal learning network can be whatever you decide to make it!  For me, my idea of a PLN is a space where you can connect with the front runners of the field you happen to be interested in.  Not only that, you can share, comment, read and engage in great conversations about the newest happenings around the world.

Cheezin’ like crazy after receiving my first AND second college degrees
Photo by Madisen Giordano

Twitter can be a more professional and educational platform, if you choose to make it that way.  Building my PLN was (and still is!) a challenge: finding credible accounts that don’t post garbage or spam, and even just finding accounts that are associated with athletic training was hard.  Most of the accounts I follow are sports medicine based, considering that is my area of interest.  Some of the best accounts I follow include: The National Athletic Trainers Association, The Korey Stringer Institute, The Concussion Blog, Athletic Training and Sports Health Care Journal, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine Online, Injury Pic Page (because as a future AT I LOVE GORY INJURY PICS),  and The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, just to name a few!  Building a PLN involves google searches, twitter searches, following credible and interesting accounts then sifting through the accounts they follow, reading through tweets that have been published to decide if an account is worth following, etc.  Long story short, it’s a lot of work but it is most certainly worth it.

Having a PLN for the rest of my education career is going to be more beneficial than I had originally had planned.  The articles, stories, pictures and advice posted by various accounts will aid in my learnings as a future graduate student in a competitive, fast-paced athletic training graduate program.

Following the Graduation Ceremony in 2012 at Pelham High School where my passion for education developed with the biggest supporter aka my Dad
Photo by Madisen Giordano

There is more ‘need to know’ information hidden in some of these articles than I could find in a text book.  Being able to see situations that current athletic trainers, sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, and certified strength and conditioning specialists is proving to be a vital part of my education.  In my future career the ability to connect so easily with experts and national organizations in my field will be a great experience.  There are so many accounts that are so active and willing to offer help to those who ask.  My PLN has changed the way I look at this social media platform and is starting to change the way I learn.

Check out some great tweets from various accounts on my Storify:

https://storify.com/meowmadisen/my-pln 

Health is Wealth

Currently, I am at the point in my education where almost every single class I take is so interesting and important.  This is mainly because I choose classes that I think will benefit me the most, but also because I have fulfilled all of my general education requirements (not saying general education classes aren’t interesting, they just tend to be a tad drier than other classes).   When you’re in your fifth year of school the choices of classes start to get slim, especially if you are trying to keep within disciplines that will benefit you in the future.  Two classes this semester have peaked my interest and will aid in my future in grad school and beyond.

Mental Health Issues with Elaine deMello is one of the best classes I’ve taken in a long time.  The class has about ten people in it, small classes allow for more creative and in depth discussion hearing points from everyone in cla

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ss.  A wide range of material has been covered so far in this class, but what really drew me in was a better look at recognizing the signs and symptoms of

various mental illnesses.  Asa project for the class we had to help put together a health education/promotion event and my project was broken into two parts: Mental Illness Awareness Event on October 10th and Suicide Prevention/Survivor of Suicide Loss Speaker on November 14th.  Both events featured speakers from the counseling center that helps us to realize ‘no problem is too small’ and resources for various situations were offered as well.

Mental health in general is an interesting topic to me, but what is even more interesting is that in the sports world, mental health is typically put on the back burner.  Recognizing behavioral changes is a simple way an athletic trainer can make a difference in the lives of athletes and this class has given a solid overview of the changes that could be potentially from a ment

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al health disorder.  Athletes and coaches are so focused on physical health they may sometimes forget that mental health is just as important.  In hopes that

someday I will be an athletic trainer, I look to help make a major shift in the sports world, advocating for the mental health of athletes as well as the physical health because they are equally important and inversely related.

Exercise physiology is one of the most fascinating topics, how the body systems work when exercising is so pertinent to my future education and career, if I didn’t find it interesting I’d be slightly worried.  Dr. Michael Brian has not made this class easy in any sense, but a challenge is always good.  Numerous topics in this class interest me, but none more that the

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physiological adaptations the body can make during exercise training program, specifically the heart.  The heart can change in many ways when a person undergoes a training program, especially an aerobic training program.

The human body is such an incredible machine, it can adapt to almost any environment it is put in, so it shouldn’t surprise me how many adaptations it undergoes during training programs.  Adaptations occur across many systems but the heart to me is the most fascinating.  A strong heart will ensure that lifespan will be increased; aerobic training programs strengthen the heart and facilitate muscle growth.  Aerobic training also d

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ecreases heart rate and blood pressure which can help to achieve overall wellness.  Knowing what sort of stresses are being placed on the body systems during exercise and how these stresses benefit overall wellness is something I have been studying for a long time now, and it never loses my interest.  When working in sports medicine one must understand what is happening in the body at all times during exercise, and this class is giving me all the information I could need.

Both these topics relate to each other and to my program and future goals because physical and mental health work together to create a better sense of overall wellness.  Mental health is an underdeveloped facet to sports medicine, but it is on the rise, and I hope to have an influence on that someday when I’m working with athletes.  Without the knowledge of energy systems and how the heart functions during exercise it would be much harder to create training programs for specific sports and athletes.  Both these classes are not only providing me with viable information for the future, but they are also generally interesting and I would recommend them to any health or sports science majors.

 

Battling for Interdisciplinarity in Higher Ed

As a committed and passionate student, I have always been fascinated with subjects outside of the various majors I have studied.  I’ve said it many times before and I will continue to state: my education was interdisciplinary before I even knew what that word meant.  As a student at a university that is now headed into graduate school soon, I have come to realize it is almost impossible to succeed without having some form of Interdisciplinarity

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integrated into education.  While advocacy and funding for IDS isn’t where it should be across the US, here at PSU we are moving towards a completely different approach to higher education and hopefully, the rest of the country will follow suit soon enough.  J. W. Jacob’s article on ‘Interdisciplinary trends in higher education’ opens my eyes to how institutions across the world are trying to swim upstream against ID haters.

“Higher education disciplinary approaches often tend to focus only on a set of trees within a great forest” (Jacob, 2015, p. 2), interdisciplinary approaches are sort of slow to catch on.  Most people outside academia don’t see or fully understand the need for all education, but especially higher education to be interdisciplinary.  The basis of this thought isn’t just to make students more marketable (while it is an obvious outcome) but the influence ID work has on a student’s ability to process and think in different ways is irreplaceable.  Interdisciplinarity is real, it exists outside of academia and it is how almost all problems in this modern world are solved.

ID education, in my opinion should most definitely be the way of the future.  “One of the most obvious advantages from a student’s standpoint is the reality that multiple instructors enriches a student’s learning experience through divers

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ity exposure and multiple points of view” (Jacob, 2015, p. 3).  One cannot solve a problem on climate change without scholars from disciplines (or sub disciplines) such as meteorology, biology, environmental science and so on.  One cannot solve the problem of childhood obesity without scholars from disciplines (or sub disciplines) such as pediatrics, nutrition, and exercise physiology.  While it is necessary to have experts in certain fields, if those experts cannot accept the ideas of other or work in a group of other

scholars from other disciplines, what is really the point of knowing so much about one specific thing?  Higher education is making a shift towards a more technologically advanced demographic: shouldn’t it be shifting towards a more student based curricula as well?

As a former athlete and coach everything I do and see and am involved can be related to sports: specifically, the part of sports which requires a team to work together to accomplish a common goal.  On the field there are different positions that have different jobs but they are all geared towards one common ‘thing’ and that is winning.  In ID research and learning I see it as different parts of a team working together to gather knowledge from every point of view possible to unite and formulate the best possible answer or

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project or whatever the goal is.

“The silo syndrome that permeates so many HEI’s (higher education institution) worldwide at the very least discourages ID practices and at the most eliminates them all together (Jacob, 2015, p. 2)”.  Seeing a quote like this in a scholarly article is not only disheartening but it pretty much offends me.  There is proof, real scientific proof that an interdisciplinary approach to education does nothing but benefits the students.  So why, in 2017, where everything is ‘inclusive,’ are students still fighting against conforming to the traditional rigid ‘major curriculums’ when the benefits of ID education could skyrocket them to the forefront of their fields of study?  The world may never know.

Work Cited

Jacob, W. J. (2015). Interdisciplinary trends in higher education.

Korey Stringer Institute’s Mission to Save Lives

Korey Stringer arrived to the hospital in Mankato, Minnesota with a fever of 108 degrees.  The pro-bowl offensive tackle was unconscious when he arrived at the hospital from the Minnesota Vikings practice field in August of 2001.  Stringer tragically passed away at the hospital after suffering from exertional heat stroke.  The worst possible nightmare for the Vikings medical staff turned into a reality that day, and since then Korey’s wife Kelci, Dr. Douglas

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Casa, ATC (an expert witness in Korey’s case), and Jimmy Gould (Korey’s NFL agent) threw themselves into working with the NFL to create an exertional heat stroke prevention program.  Partnered with many associations outside the academic world, their efforts came to a pinnacle in 2010.

In 2010 the Korey Stringer Institute was opened at the University of Connecticut.  Their one goal is to protect the health and safety of athletes of all ages and levels, active individuals, recreational athletes, members of the armed forces, and laborers in occupational settings.  As of today KSI has helped to change and implement safety policies in youth, high school, collegiate, and professional sports and undoubtedly saved countless lives through their efforts.  KSI uses a transdisciplinary approach, along with sprinklings of inter- and multidisciplinary ideas,  to achieve their mission.

The KSI is a non-profit organization and relies on its corporate partners to continue their efforts in education and prevention of heat related deaths in athletes and active individuals.  Their partners include the NFL, UConn, Gatorade, the NATA, Camelbak, Mission, HeatSmart.com, Kestrel, and Eagle

Playing field hockey for Pelham High School in the heat of August in 2011
photo by Madisen Giordano

Pharmaceuticals along with private donors that share the passion for protecting and educating athletes, active individuals and the medical personnel that oversee them.  Education and advocacy aren’t the only services offered by KSI.  The staff, which is 80% volunteers, also engages in consultations, athlete testing, research and mass-market outreach.

Many academic disciplines are involved in KSI including athletic training, kinesiology, nutrition, exercise physiology, cardiology, and neurology qualifying the institute as a multidisciplinary giant in the sports medicine world.  Research topics don’t just include prevention of heat related illnesses; they cover a wide range of prevention and care of injuries in active populations on all levels.

Running a timed two mile in 89 degree heat in August 2012
photo by Madisen Giordano

Thanks to one of KSI’s corporate partners, a brand new testing facility has opened this year at UConn’s KSI.  The MISSION Heat Lab is a state of the art lab with the newest technologies in climate control to help better understand heat exposure and humidity effects on the exercising body.  With the addition of this lab the Korey Stringer Institute can further their mission in preventing sudden death in sport.

The importance of proper nutrition and hydration for athletes exercising in extreme heat and/or humidity may seem like it would be close to common sense but, without the efforts of coaches and athletic trainers many young athletes and parents don’t know the ins and outs of staying healthy in these conditions.  Advocacy from the Korey Stringer Institute on heat related illness is becoming a wide spread topic of discussion and has implemented change

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across the world of sports.  Without the efforts and passion of Kelci Stringer, Dr. Douglas Casa, and Jimmy Gould, sudden death related to exertional heat stroke may not be as heavily researched as it is today.

KSI was developed from passion, like most non-profit organizations are.  The tireless efforts of the staff members of the institute save lives, better athletes and active individuals, and research relevant topics to keep them all safe.  Education and advocacy are the most powerful weapons of a non-profit like the KSI and they continue to hit the nail on the head for this sports medicine great.  Visit their website to learn more about the Korey Stringer Institute’s efforts to create a safer world for athletes, active individuals, military personnel and laborers.  https://ksi.uconn.edu/

Interdisciplinarity is Essential for Success

Since my junior year of high school I have wanted nothing more than to go to college to become an athletic trainer.  This influence came from the athletic trainer that worked for my high school at the time.  Her name is Rolinda and

photo by Madisen Giordano

she was (and still is I’m sure) incredibly amazing in her role of athletic trainer.  Before Rolinda joined the athletic department at Pelham High School I wanted to be a lawyer: to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps of going to Boston College and Boston College Law School.  During preseason training of my junior year, that all changed.  It wasn’t until Rolinda spent time with my field hockey team giving us information on all kinds of things athletes need to know like how to stay healthy throughout the season, stretches for sore muscles, snacks to fuel workouts and the importance of foam rolling and recovery sticks that I was fascinated with the field of athletic training.

Upon my arrival to Plymouth State in the fall of 2012 the only class I looked forward to was Introduction to Athletic Training with Dr. Linda Levy.  I had done my research and realized that Plymouth State has one of the best athletic training programs in the state, mostly due to the faculty of the department.  On the first day of class we jumped right in and got our first rolls of tape and I fell in love from that moment on.  As a very hands-on learner I knew this program was going to be the right fit for me.  Not only did my first athletic training class develop the passion I had for this field even further but it also gave me a background on how this discipline came to be.

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) was established in 1950

photo by Madisen Giordano

with about 200 athletic trainers from across the country collaborating to start this organization.  While this was the first recognized athletic trainer society, athletic trainers have been around treating athletes for much, much longer.  The first athletic trainer in the United States was hired by Harvard University in 1881 to train their track and field athletes.  The field has developed exponentially since and continues to grow and adapt to the needs of athletes in every sport.  Athletic training developed from ‘training athletes’ in specifically track and field to providing essential care for injuries and helping athletes return to play at 100%.  The ever changing world of athletic training continues to develop with technology.  This provides athletic trainers with more tools to diagnose and treat injuries, create rehabilitation and prehabilitation programs, and ensure the safety of athletes during practice and games.

Here at Plymouth State, athletic training became an official major less than twenty years ago.  I was unaware of that until now and it makes me smiles because I’m older than the official athletic training program.  Athletic training was originally offered as an option for physical education majors and has developed into a bachelor’s degree program and two different master’s degree programs.  The content and methods of athletic training are ever expanding to include new technologies to help better athlete performance.  Thinking about the epistemologies of athletic training brings me back to my days of being an athlete.  The number one goal of all athletic trainers no matter what level is prevention and care if injuries and of course safety of the athletes.  So why do athletic trainers have to learn the way they do?  They are part of a sports team, a family, and they need to know how to care for that family when it’s hurt in every way possible.

Athletic trainers get a very multidisciplinary education whether they know it or not.  As I’ve stated in a previous post, athletic training is a sub discipline of sports medicine.  Sports medicine also includes many disciplines related to athletic training and that are integrated into the content of athletic training education.  Examples of this are exercise physiology, biomechanics, sport nutrition, and sport psychology.  With my approach to athletic training education, I have taken the time to ensure I fully understand the content of all these other supporting disciplines and how they apply to athletic training.

Athletic training educational content includes supporting classes such as anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and exercise physiology to create a base of information about the human body and how it functions during exercise and sports.  With each semester in the program getting more hands-on, the content gets more difficult as one progresses towards senior year and board of certification exams.  The hands-on methods in the curriculum come in the form of injury assessment classes, taping classes and of course clinical rotations.  By far one of my favorite aspects of athletic training education is the observation hours and clinical hours that students spend with the athletic teams here at the university.  As a freshman, you get the opportunity to familiarize with the athletic training room, a place that you will call home by your senior year in the program.

One of my absolute favorite things about the athletic training community is that there is not prioritization of sports, they are all equal.  To me it doesn’t matter what sport, an athlete is an athlete and they want to perform in the

photo by Madisen Giordano

best way possible.  That is why I really aspire to be the best athletic trainer I can be, to better athletes.  There is no such thing as having too much knowledge about athletic training.  While you could specialize in it, there are so many disciplines and sub disciplines involved in being an athletic trainer, good luck if you choose to try and conquer them all.  In order to be successful with a team you must know stretches for every muscle, be able to build a weight room workout program, aid athletes with nutrition, know every special muscle test in order to correctly diagnose injuries, thoroughly understand the different therapeutic modalities, etc.  There is a lot that goes into athletic training, which is why the educational programs are challenging.  The amount of content that needs to be covered demands various methods of teaching, which PSU’s program has successfully done in my eyes.

The Journal of Athletic Training is a scholarly peer reviewed journal put out by the NATA on a periodical basis.  It includes research in the field and information on anything and everything athletic trainers may know.  My favorite athletic training Twitter account is @ATAdvocacy.  This account focuses on promoting and advocating for athletic training as a profession and puts out some pretty awesome retweets and tweets about injuries and rehab programs along with concussion research which I particularly enjoy.  I am very passionate about the career I have chosen and plan on continuing to gather information on how I can be the best athletic trainer by mastering the content and methods of my discipline.

 

What Interdisciplinary Learning Means to Me

Looking back on my education I start to realize that I have been taking an interdisciplinary approach almost my entire academic career.  I have always been fascinated by science, but also by its social implications.  I have always found myself interested in psychology and sociology but wanted to know more about actual people and how different cultures and societies function.  With all these interests, sits my main focus, physical health and wellness.  My

NAMI NH’s Walk to End Stigma and Promote and Advocate for Mental Health ’17
photo by Madisen Giordano

post high school education has included seven different majors, finally bringing me to the interdisciplinary studies program here at Plymouth State.  What better way to combine all the disciplines I had previously studied than trying to mix them all up and get something else from it.  Interdisciplinarity helps me remember that the field of study I want to focus in won’t always show me how to solve problems, I will have to draw on information from other disciplines to help bridge the gap.

Interdisciplinarity in my studies will of course help me in my future education and future career.  With the thought of graduate school looming, my ever growing knowledge of the human body and its capabilities continues to grow, but from different facets of the academic world.  Not only do I know what forces cause injuries, how muscles function, and how cellular respiration and metabolic pathways contribute to exercise, but I also am now learning how drug affect all the tissues in the body, the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and the importance of exercise testing in healthy individuals.  Bringing together all the aspects of the different disciplines I’ve studied and continue to study will help to make me the best athletic trainer around, and I will have earned it.

Gregorian said it best when he said, “Today’s students fulfill general-education requirements, take specialized courses in their majors, and fill out their schedule with some electives, but while college catalogs euphemistically describe this as a “curriculum,” it is rarely more than a collection of courses, devoid of planning, context, and coherence.”  The fear of a rigid ‘curriculum’ pointed me directly at the IDS program.  After years of bouncing around from major to major, discipline to discipline, I wanted to take charge of my education and formulate something meaningful that would add success to future academic endeavors.  I strongly agree with Gregorian when he states, “the fundamental problems of disjointed curricula is fragmentation of knowledge itself.”  While drilling down ideas and solving them in smaller portions, sometimes it is beneficial to see the problem as a whole, or setting the problem in context, and not fragmenting the knowledge, but using different disciplinary approaches to solving the problem as a whole.

Promoting Drug Free Lifestyles with my PMS Field Hockey team during Red Ribbon Week ’16
photo by Madisen Giordano

Gaining knowledge across disciplines has been a focal point of my academic career since I can remember, much before college.  As previously stated, I have always been interested in all the constructs of knowledge, the epistemology of just about everything, with the exception of math.  Nissani put it into the best words possible for me to explain my academic career, “…jack of all trades, master of none.”  While I do hope to be an excellent athletic trainer someday, I also hope to have a wealth of knowledge that isn’t directly related to athletic training content, but supports the methods of the profession.

As a very passionate student, I have always questioned the specialization of scholars.  While obviously it is important to have those who specialize in say, cardiology or oncology or pediatrics, it is also vitally important for those scholars to be informed of issues across healthcare as a whole.  I have always wondered what the path of their specialization entails, how much knowledge they are able to gather outside of their specific specialization.  “…those who stop at the disciplinary edge run the risk of tunnel vision” (Nissani).  This quote tells me all I need to know about specialization, and while it has its benefits it also has its drawbacks, as everything in the world does.

I would have to say that I would not have wanted to finish my undergraduate education in any other way than in the Interdisciplinary Studies program here at PSU.  Nassani makes an incredible point when he says “Interdisciplinarians, by contrast, are forever treating themselves to the intellectual equivalent of exploring exotic lands.”  By keeping my mind geared towards interdisciplinary approaches to education and research, I feel as though my knowledge on topics I am passionate about will continue to grow and flourish forever.

References:

Gregorian, Vartan. ‘Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge.

Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge

Nissani, Moti. ‘Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinarity.’

Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinarity

Sports Medicine Program Statement

My program is called Sports Medicine.  In this program, I have strived to combine my background in exercise science and pre-sports medici

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ne with the prerequisites required of Plymouth State University’s Master of Science Professional Athletic Training Program.  I’m choosing to create this program for several reasons.  At this point in my education, Interdisciplinary Studies makes the most sense because I am working to pull together two associates degrees and credits from my first year of college to move towards my goal of becoming a certified athletic trainer.

 

In combining the classes I have taken from both institutions I have attended, I believe I have laid the foundation for a program that supports the knowledge needed to be successful in a Master’s Degree program and in my future career.

By definition, “Sports medicine is an umbrella term that encompasses both clinical and scientific aspects of exercise and sport” (Hall, 2012, p. 3).  Athletic training is a profession that is included under the ‘umbrella’ of sports medicine, which also includes several other disciplines I have taken the time to study.

(Hall, 2012, p. 4)

Before returning to Plymouth State this fall, I previously attended Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts (2013-2016).  Many of the courses in my contract are transfer credits from Northern Essex.  In my three years there I completed two Associate’s Degrees: General Studies, and General Studies with a focus in Exercise Science/Pre- Sports Medicine.  Prior to transferring to Northern Essex, I was an athletic training major here at Plymouth State (2012-2013).  The first year of my college education planted the seed for the continued growth of my passion for athletic training and future goals.

The courses on my contract primarily come from Athletic Training, Health Education, and Physical Education disciplines.  While these disciplines are in the same departments, Health and Human Performance, they differ giving me a fully rounded interdisciplinary contract.

 

Prevention and Care of Injuries in Active Populations (AT2250) provided insight into the basics of athletic training concepts.  With a major focus on mechanisms of injury and creation of an injury notebook/taping man

photo by Madisen Giordano

ual, a cohesive overview of several aspects of athletic training made prevention and care one of the most important classes I’ve taken to date.

The knowledge gained in this class has built a solid base of information that I can draw from in my future education.  The ability to analyze statistical data on injuries, athlete predisposition, injury prevention and exercise routines associated with injuries is a crucial skill in the athletic training world.  As an athletic trainer, the main goal is to keep athletes healthy.  By knowing what injuries can occur to athletes in different sports and practice routines, the athletic trainer is given an upper hand in preventing and treating these injuries.

In most every health/medical professions, the population being cared for is referred to as ‘patients.’  In athletic training, since the main populations being cared for are athletes, they are always referred to as such.  Introduction to Patient Care (HE1999) aims to prepare health care professionals for dealing with patients (or athletes) that may be in crisis or pain.  Athletes that suffer season or career ending injuries need to be treated with a different kind of compassion than those suffering from a less serious or acute injury.  All athletes must be treated with respect, but certain changes in tone of voice and body language must be taken into account.  First Aid and CPR/AED (HE2500) is a critical set of skills associated with athletic training.  In the event an athlete goes unconscious, has a catastrophic injury, or goes into cardiac arrest, an athletic trainer would be on scene to perform a potentially lifesaving response.  First Aid and CPR Instructor (HE3660) will provide a sturdier base of knowledge and the ability to instruct others on life saving techniques.  Understanding HIPAA and athlete’s rights are just a few of the many competencies Health Care Law and Ethics (HE2999) taught me.  Ethical and moral obligations of health are a huge part of any allied health profession, athletic training included.

Many aspects of sports medicine interest me, not just athletic training.  As a former athlete and coach, the psychology of sport has been in the forefront of my interests.  As an athletic trainer, there is the opportunity to not only care for an athlete’s physical health, but also taking the time to ensure they are mentally well.  Mental Health Issues (HE3210) gives insight into several different mental illnesses as well as warning signs and how to get help for those who may be suffering from any sort of mental distress.  Mental health can be greatly impacted by physical health.  That being said, athletes with

photo by Madisen Giordano

severe injuries are at a greater risk for developing mental health issues like depression or anxiety.  This class will provide information that is pertinent to recognizing behavior changes in athletes and the signs of a developing mental illness.  Similar to mental health, Exercise and Health Psychology (HE4010) will delve deep into the psychology behind all different activity.  My hope is that this class will provide a better understanding of the theories behind the mental stresses athletes face.  Drug use and abuse in athletes is a topic that should not be taken lightly.  Drug Behavior (HE3700) will give an overview of controlled and illicit substances, also signs and symptoms of abuse.  Drug use and abuse among athletes is not totally uncommon and the class will provide information to help me recognize the difference between use, abuse, and misuse of certain drugs.

Rigorous exercise is an undeniable major aspect of most sports.  With intense exercise, proper care of the body is imperative.  Functional Anatomy (PE2750) provided a base of knowledge about corrective exercise that will further help with the creation of prehabilitation and rehabilitation routines.  Kinesiology (PE3570) teaches the basic biomechanics of human movement.  Understanding these concepts gives an athletic trainer a better understanding of mechanisms of injury and forces exerted on the body.  An exercising body requires several things in order to function properly.  Exercise Physiology (PE3580) goes in depth in the needs of muscles and bodies before, during, and after exercise.  Athletic trainers need to know how the body makes and consumes energy in order to educate athletes on how to properly care for themselves.

Exercise Prescription (PE4780) and Strength and Conditioning (PE2831) discuss similar aspects of maintaining overall physical health.  Both courses provide strength training and conditioning routines that keep athletes game ready during the season.  Also, both courses provide overviews on how to stay in shape without over training during the off season.  Special Topics Applied Strength and Conditioning (PE3710) will give me an opportunity to work with athletes and create fitness programs on and off season training.  This will add to my ability to create prehabilitation and rehabilitation routines.  One major factor in athletes’ overall health and physical fitness is their diets.  Human Nutrition and Health (HE3220) discussed topics of macro and micro nutrients, importance of vitamins and minerals and also how the body converts food into viable energy.

The knowledge I have gained or plan to gain from the courses in my

phto by Madisen Giordano

contract are supported by all the other courses on my transcript.  These courses work together to create a concrete foundation of knowledge that will support me in my future endeavors in graduate school.  Interdisciplinary Studies has given

me the opportunity to take not only the prerequisites for the graduate program I have chosen, but also supporting courses that have or will further educate me on topics pertinent to athletic training.  Plymouth State University’s Master of Science Professional Athletic Training Program is unique because it accepts students with any educational backgrounds.  This program is one of the main reasons I returned to Plymouth State and why creating my own major was right for me.

The ability to apply existing PSU credits along with transfer credits to create my own degree program is unrivaled by any existing program I could have chosen.  Every course I have taken or plan to take has pointed me in the direction of my goal, becoming a certified athletic trainer.

 

 

Work Cited

Hall, S. J. (2012). Basic Biomechanics. (6th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Interview with Dr. Linda Levy

Photo By Plymouth State University

When I first met Dr. Levy, I was a timid eight teen year old, fresh out of high school, brand new to the PSU campus and college community. She remembers me as an athletic training student, with just the right amount of personality and passion to be successful in the major. Dr. Levy has been my advisor since 2012, my freshman year at the university. After I went back to my home town and a local community college in May of 2013, I kept in touch with Dr. Levy through e-mails here and there promising that I would make my way back to PSU someday. That proved to be true when I contacted her in January 2017 informing her that I was on my way back to PSU for the fall semester.
Initially, I had no clue how I was going to turn my two associate’s degrees that I had earned (General Studies and Exercise Science/Pre Sports Med) and my existing PSU credits into a bachelor’s degree. Thankfully, my trusty advisor the amazing Dr. Linda Levy was there to help me put the pieces together. Her first and only suggestion in the meeting I had with her some time ago now was to build my own program in the Interdisciplinary Studies major offered here at PSU. I vividly remember staring at my favorite professor thinking: ‘I have not a single clue what that means but just smile and nod, Madisen, she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about’. Surprisingly, after doing some research when I got back home I started to realize an interdisciplinary studies program at PSU was definitely the place for me.
The instant my professor Dr. Robin DeRosa in my IDS class assigned an interview with a professor on campus I knew exactly who I was going to interview. Not only is Dr. Levy the chair of the Health and Human Performance Department, she is also the Program Director for the undergraduate Athletic Training Program here at PSU. Along with that she is also an IDS council member. I felt this combination of academic knowledge made Linda and excellent candidate for my interview.

What do you teach here at PSU?
“I teach athletic training courses, specifically Introduction to Athletic Training, Prevention and Care of Injuries in Active Populations, Administration in Athletic Training, the BOC test prep, and I also teach Basic Athletic Training in the Coaching Minor. Along with that I teach some classes in the Graduate Athletic Training Program.”

What did you study in grad school and for your PhD?
“My graduate degrees are in education so a Master of Education and my doctorate is in educational leadership.”

What kind of research do you work on now?
“Umm, nothing honestly *laughs* but my research area is in clinical supervision.”

Do you work with scholars outside of your field of athletic training?
“I did when I was more active in research, yeah.”

Do you work with non-academics in your professional work?
“Not really, I think unless they’re at a more administrative level people but mostly they’re academics.”

Do you collaborate with anyone on scholarly work?
“Yeah down in Springfield there’s a couple faculty that I’ve been working with and I think the other guy is at Mankato State. There were six of us that did six different articles and we were from all over the U.S.”

Are there benefits and challenges involved with working with a group?
“Well certainly the benefits are collaborating with people that are doing research in the same area as you but the challenge is trying to figure out a time to get together or separating out the responsibilities for who is going to do what part of the research.”

Kind of like group projects in college?
“Yes! Exactly”

Do you do any interdisciplinary study work?
“Just with the number of IDS majors that I advise and I’m on the counsel.”

What courses should HHP majors consider taking outside of our department?
“Depends what your focus is, it always depends. Everyone is an individual depending on what their career path is and the emphasis they want to put into moving in that direction.”

Why do you think IDS is important?
“Well it certainly benefits the student to get a better understanding of what’s going on in their world from multiple points of view.”

How can I incorporate a different discipline into my Athletic Training education?
“Well you’d have to go more into the sciences: chemistry, physics, and maybe psychology. And all of those things would help you understand a little bit better than the students that don’t take them. For example the students that take physics have a better understanding of how our modalities work. Although we give you that information in class but it would make it easier. Students that take chemistry might have a better understand of pharmacological agents and that kind of thing.”

Dr. Levy understands the benefits of interdisciplinary studies work, on the other side of that she knows it’s not easy building a cohesive contract and submitting an essay to a council of seven faculty members for approval. The IDS program here at PSU gives students the chance to take charge of their pathway of to learning and put their tuition dollars to work for them. While every student still takes general education classes, the opportunity is presented to IDS students to choose the classes that will benefit them the most in the disciplines they choose. Instead of the classic ‘this is your major and these are your required classes and credits,’ IDS students choose those ‘required classes’ and have a hand in making their education just that, their own.
During this short interview with Dr. Levy there was no trace of the timid yet passionate eight-teen year old girl I had once been. Instead, sitting beside Dr. Levy that day was a confident, ultra-passionate, twenty-three-year-old college educated young woman, well on her way to her third higher education degree. With my sights set on completing the few prerequisites left to render me eligible for my fourth degree: Master of Science, Athletic Training: Professional Program. I couldn’t be more proud of my educational achievements to date and what the future has to hold for me. Thankfully, I’ve had Dr. Levy with me during my academic progress, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.