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Alumni Spotlights

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Alexis Scoville


by Rebecca Sainsbury

Recent BYU Exercise and Wellness graduate, Alexis Scoville, received her bachelor’s degree in December 2016. Since graduation, she has been working as an EXOS Health Fitness Specialist in a local wellness center.  

Besides managing a large fitness site, Alexis prescribes exercise, personally trains, and establishes one on one relationships with her clients.  It is her responsibility to ensure that everyone enjoys the on-site fitness experience.

Alexis appreciates the experience she gained through the Exercise and Wellness program at BYU, her intern experience with Y B Fit, and her favorite classes with Dr. George and Dr. Davidson. Learning how to do fitness assessments and health coaching helped her become accustomed to applying the principles she learned in class to actual clients.

The Y B Fit internship was one of the main reasons Alexis got the job working for EXOS—that has enabled her to apply the things she learned during her internship.  During the interview process, the manager said that because they knew she had participated in Y B Fit, they knew she would be a good fit for the job. Alexis advocates taking advantage of internship opportunities, “You should actively find ways to apply what you learn in class. That is how you remember everything.... My internship was the best thing I did for my career.”

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Elise Brown

Des Plaines, Illinois

by Rebecca Sainsbury

BYU swim team alumni, Elise Brown, graduated from BYU in 2009, with a BS in Exercise Science.  Looking back on her undergraduate years, she reflects on how the functional anatomy and biomechanical classes provided her with a great depth of knowledge—a foundation that, she says, gave her more experience than many of her classes in graduate school.  At BYU, she learned many possible orthopedic conditions, and she learned how to fix those conditions in the University of Utah’s Physical Therapy program.  

While pregnant with her first son, Elise completed her graduate degree at the University of Utah, after which she worked as a Pediatric Physical Therapist.  Although Elise is now a stay at home mom, her clients at the time, were children with developmental delays, ages 0-3.  Her roles involved training parents how to help their children improve mobility, address musculoskeletal issues with preemie babies, and find solutions for babies who were not crawling or walking on time.  Many of her clients were the same age as her son.  Elise says, “I was able to help him reach all his milestones, and knew exactly what the moms [of her clients] were going through with sleeping and feeding issues. That allowed me to relate to the parents.”

Post-BYU, Elise almost forwent applying to the University of Utah’s physical therapy program. She thought she lacked internship, volunteer, and hours shadowing, but she applied anyway and was accepted!  Elise advises anyone interested in PT school to apply, “Even if you don’t get in, you get a good feel for the process, and practice with interviews, which is very valuable itself.”  For future PT students, she advises them to customize their majors by taking classes beneficial for PT school, rather than classes designed to prepare students to take the MCAT.  She says that therapeutic modalities and athletic training courses allowed her to enjoy her undergraduate years significantly more.  “If you work and study hard for your BYU classes, grad school will be much easier. Don't forget to have some fun as well!”  

BYU Exercise Sciences has helped Elise to feel confident in caring for her family’s health while traveling all over the world.  Due to her husband’s job, her family has lived abroad and moved around frequently.  Thanks to her medical background and advanced first aid/CPR class, she has acquired extended skills that allow her to care for her family under circumstances with limited access to healthcare in developing countries.

A photo of Elise and her family in Jerusalem, where they lived on assignment, March-April 2017.

Elise and her son.

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John Erickson

Jacksonville, FL

by Rebecca Sainsbury

John Erickson is a Pediatric Optometrist at Nemours Children's Specialty Care.  He sees roughly thirty patients daily, whose needs vary from a simple pair of glasses to the complexities of cataracts, corneal abrasions, and genetic disorders.  The most rewarding thing for John is when he is able to help a child with vision impairment see perfectly by the end of a visit.

At BYU, while taking an introduction to health professions class, John shadowed a local optician.  He was promptly hired on to help fit people with glasses.  After receiving his BS in Exercise Science in 2008, he attended the Southern College of Optometry of Memphis Tennessee.

Grades are paramount for acceptance into optometry school.  Just twenty applicants from John’s class were accepted into his graduate program based on their OAT score (relates to the MCAT).  For anyone interested in pursuing optometry, John says internships and field exposure are key.  For undergraduate students considering optometry, he recommends getting an in-field, low level job to determine if optometry is the right career path for them.

To increase his chances of acceptance and receiving a scholarship, John wishes that he would have planned to apply and take his graduate school entrance exams earlier.  He recommends having a post-graduation plan prepared in case you are not immediately accepted. “If you plan on going to graduate school for a healthcare profession, schools like to see a unique undergraduate degree—like Exercise Sciences.”  With a laugh, he added, “...it separates you from all of the biology majors.”  

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Sheldon Knight

Falls Church, VA

by Rebecca Sainsbury

Working as a Navy Physician at the Pentagon, was never part of Sheldon Knight’s original plan. Immediately after his graduation in Exercise Sciences at Brigham Young University, Sheldon began medical school.  From there, his career has led him to become involved with the medical care of soldiers in the United States Armed Forces and to his involvement in aerospace medicine--including the study of physiological effects on astronauts.  Aerospace medicine is a field that NASA heavily depends on for future expeditions to Mars!  Still unsure of his own interests in aerospace medicine, Sheldon remarks that medical needs in this field will soar in the near future.  

Sheldon’s undergraduate honors thesis at BYU was a project evaluating the use of diathermy (ultrasound/heat technology) on muscles.  Sheldon remarks that his undergraduate classes had the largest influence on where he decided to take his postgraduate studies.  Studying Exercise Sciences was extremely beneficial, because it allowed him to have a macro understanding of the entire body--something the narrowed specifics of a degree in the hard sciences did not offer for him.

Sheldon advises students in the Exercise Sciences program to take every opportunity to truly understand and learn the class material. He says, “Pay close attention, there are still things today in my occupation that I wish I would have taken time to study more closely. These things will come up in your career, and you will have to know how they apply.”

The most rewarding experience at BYU, for Sheldon, was working with the professors and learning from their different perspectives.  He says it was difficult to connect as closely with his instructors in medical school.  To this day, he continues to keep in touch with his most influential BYU professors, Dr. Feland and Lockhart.

Sheldon currently resides in Falls Church, VA, with his wife and nine children.

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­­­­­­ Cami Barney

Tulsa, Oklahoma

by Rebecca Sainsbury

Cami Barney graduated from BYU in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Wellness.  Career exploration played a large role in her time as an undergraduate.  Initially, Cami wanted to do physical therapy; however, after a wellness program internship, her interests shifted to Exercise and Wellness.  After graduating, she and her husband moved to Las Vegas, where he began medical school at Toro University, and she began her second bachelor’s degree at the accelerated nursing school.

Cami says her Exercise and Wellness BS from BYU was a great platform that prepared her well for furthing her education in nursing. In order to be successful in finding a passion, Cami advises students to job shadow positions that spark their interest .  While at BYU, she was able to find a student job that allowed her to explore her interest in the wellness field.  She also found inspiration from classes and professors she enjoyed, like stress and obesity management, and corporate wellness. Cami appreciates the solidified experience BYU's Exercise and Wellness program gave her in various fields.

The Barney family currently resides in Tulsa, OK, where her husband is finishing up his residency at Oklahoma State University Medical, and Cami works as a Registered Nurse.  Cami has interests in the ER, PACU, dermatology center, and now in post-surgery recovery.  She enjoys the flexibility of her job,  “I’ve always worked around my son and husband’s schedule, I can work as much or as little as I want, depending on my situation.”  Cami works one twelve-hour shift per week in the post-surgery recovery room, where her husband brings her his patients for post-anesthesia recovery.  After her shift, she returns home and continues mom duties, making dinner, and spending time with her three-year-old son.  

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Keilah Martinez

Provo, UT

by Rebecca Sainsbury

Keilah Martinez graduated from BYU in 2014 with a Bachelor’s in Health and Wellness, and in 2016 with her Master’s in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Health Promotion. Keilah currently works as Program Manager for EXOS at a local call center.  Managing a fitness center involves teaching group exercise classes, personal training, and helping people workout.  Aside from these responsibilities, Keilah also organizes health and wellness promotion, the design of future fitness programs, and covers EXOS billing and financial accountabilities..

One of Keilah’s favorite BYU memories is teaching university volleyball classes as a Master’s student.  Her advice for those looking for jobs in corporate wellness is to get hands on experience.  Experience teaching fitness classes is almost always required on job applications in the wellness field, so she recommends creating your own experience opportunities.  “Getting experience” could be as simple as casually teaching a free fitness class in the community, or to a group of friends. These types of experiences will help you get your foot in professional doors.  

Getting a full-time job can be a huge stress post-graduation; however, Keilah felt that her Y B Fit internship prepared her well for future employment.  There, she spent over two and a half years, learning many notable skills that have followed her into her current position; specifically, the ability to pay attention to financial detail, and working with individuals.  Her ability to notice detail taught her to be aware of a company’s monthly finances, while organizing and working with spreadsheets.  The individual aspect of corporate wellness is Keilah’s favorite part of her career.  She has always enjoyed working one on one with people, and has learned to ask questions about health in a way that lets her clients open up emotionally, which allows her to better serve them physically.  Y B Fit provided her with experience that prepared a marketable resume for a full-time job.

Keilah's job at EXOS is a perfect fit for her love of personal interaction with clients, and also enables her to enjoy an active lifestyle throughout the work day.

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Exercising Compassion Through Science

Provo, UT

by Jun Son

Brigham Young University, PhD student, S. Jun Son, picked up his first badminton racket at just eleven years old in Mungyeong City, South Korea.  His badminton career continued through high school, but the birdie wasn’t the only thing capturing Jun’s attention.  He was always conscious of injuries that hindered his team’s success, as well as the lack of care that was available to high school student athletes.  The compassion Jun felt for his team was the beginning of a character full of lifelong service, and helping others to completely recover from and prevent sports-related injury.

After discharge from the Republic of Korean Army in 2006, Jun served as a physical education teacher from 2006-2008 at a private sports institute and public elementary school (after-school programs) prior to coming to the United States in 2008 where Jun earned a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from University of Texas at Austin.  He gained various clinical experiences serving as a student athletic trainer for UT Athletic teams including football, volleyball, soccer, softball and track & field, shadowing sports medicine doctors at the university hospital, St. David’s medical center and Texas Sports & Family Medicine, and interning as a student athletic trainer in the high school.

In 2012, Jun began the master’s program in Athletic Training at Brigham Young University, where he has found great success at research. Upon arrival, not only did he serve as an athletic trainer for the BYU track & field team and Spirit Squad, but also immediately began research on experimental knee pain and chronic ankle instability studies under the direction of Dr. Ty Hopkins—BYU professor and renowned expert in joint injury and rehabilitation.  The results of his Master’s thesis have been published in Sport Sciences or Rehabilitation Journals including Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (10.1111/sms.12539) and Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (10.1016/j.apmr.2016.05.022).  “Jun is a problem solver, time efficient, confident, creative, has ingenuity, and no one works harder—he’s more like faculty than a student,” his advisor, Dr. Ty Hopkins remarks.

Jun continues to work on his PhD degree under the direction of Dr. Ty Hopkins.  His recent study entails finding an answer as to why repeated ankle sprain is so common.  In the ankle sprain coper landing study, Jun used ankle sprain copers, who have a history of ankle sprains but do not show chronic residual symptoms, as a new comparison group since most chronic ankle instability research has used uninjured healthy controls as a comparison group to chronic ankle instability patients. The results were recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (10.1249/MSS.0000000000001255).

Jun is currently working on his dissertation research project entitled “Clinical Predictors of Movement Patterns in Patients with Chronic Ankle Instability”.  This study leverages Dr. Hopkins’ previous study in movement strategies during landing.  “Interventions have been designed based on the existing literature on risk factors of chronic ankle instability, which appeared to be effective in some patients, but not all. Contradictory outcomes in current chronic ankle instability research reminded me to think a different way that a chronic ankle instability population or this injured group that at first seems homogenous, there are probably subgroups of patients who different from each other depending on each patient’s injury-associated deficits and injury status; however, researchers consider this injured population as a homogenous group, so that the studies are not individualized and not deficit-oriented when screen patients with chronic ankle instability. Therefore, these patients are treated by clinicians the same, which is not targeted for each patient’s deficits.” says Jun.

Jun, his advisor, Dr. Ty Hopkins, and other collaborators (Dr. Matt Seeley, Dr. Hyunsoo Kim, Dr. Shane Reese - Statistician, and Dr. Garritt Page - Statistician) have recently created six subgroups of chronic ankle instability based on each patient’s movement patterns during landing and walking.  Jun’s dissertation work continues to examine whether defined six movement pattern subgroups of this injured population can be predicted by clinical tests (ie, dorsiflexion angle, static/dynamic balance, muscular strength, figure 8 hop test, and arch height) that are commonly used by clinicians in clinical settings.  The results from this particular ankle study are expected to be implemented into the clinical setting within the next three years to help clinicians analyze landing patterns without biomechanical tools (ie, force plate, high-speed video cameras, etc.) in a clinical setting whether a particular patient may have risk of ankle sprain injury during landing.  Final results will be released this summer, shortly before Jun graduates with his PhD in August.

Meanwhile, two chronic ankle instability studies (ie, 6-week neuromuscular training and functional walking patterns) and two knee pain studies (ie, bilateral joint loading with unilateral knee pain and landing energetics associated with trunk motion) are to be presented early this summer at the World Congress on Osteoarthritis (OARSI), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), and International Ankle Symposium (IAS) annual meeting.  Importantly, 11 BYU undergraduate students who were assisting with these research projects will present the results as a lead-author at the ACSM annual meeting in Denver.  More importantly, Jordan Read who is majoring in Athletic Training and an undergraduate research assistant over 3 years, has been selected as an Undergraduate Poster Award Finalist at the NATA annual meeting in Houston from the Patellofemoral Pain study (https://t.co/Tl8gOMk6ec and https://t.co/rbFAfG8cck).

Clearly, the well-being of others is priority for Jun, which is why he hasn’t forgotten the struggles of his high school badminton team.  His compassion for teams and individuals with limitations has kept him concerned, especially for the special needs of high school student athletes in South Korea, and further, all people who suffer repeated ankle sprains.  His goal is to return and help those who want to improve treatment outcomes in chronic ankle instability patients in South Korea.  “When I help other people in community outdoor events through volunteer activity, I am really thankful that I can have an opportunity to serve myself for helping and caring others” he says.  Until his return to South Korea, Jun plans to continue learning more through his research in the United States, and volunteering in his community at outdoor events including Utah Special Olympics, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, etc.