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 Featured Student:  Julie Zalar 



What’s your intended career path?

My plan is to continue my education at Slippery Rock University’s Graduate School of Physical Therapy and to graduate with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. My career goal is to work as a physical therapist in an assisted-living or long-term care facility.

What piece of advice can you offer to students considering SRU?

 struggled when choosing a college, at first, because stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary! Something that I learned after coming to SRU, however, is that stepping out of your comfort zone is an important part of succeeding in life. A piece of advice that I can offer to students considering SRU is to choose a university that is committed to helping you grow and prosper in that next phase of your life. SRU, and the Exercise Science program, in particular, helped me through that transition and continue to encourage me to learn, grow, and prosper as a student.

What learning opportunity outside the classroom has been the most beneficial for you?

The learning opportunity outside the classroom that has been the most beneficial for me has been in my work as a therapy aide at a long-term care facility. Although I had originally signed up for the 3+3 program at Slippery Rock, I was unsure if physical therapy was actually the career I wanted to pursue. Observation hours are a requirement for admittance in to the SRU DPT program, so I contacted a facility my freshman year in hopes of gaining observation hours over summer break. What I gained from the experience was so much more than just observation hours. I was able to meet and network with therapists, improve my communication skills, and have a first-hand learning experience in physical therapy. From this experience, I was also made certain that physical therapy is the career that I want to pursue. I also developed a passion, in this time, for working with a geriatric population. This upcoming summer will mark my third year working at the long-term care facility, whose staff and residents have taught me so very much in my time there!

How have you engaged in the ES culture?

The main way in which I have engaged in the ES culture is through Major Fitness. I have been a member of Major Fitness since my freshman year and currently serve as a co-director in training and coordinator of open labs. I have also been involved, through ES, in volunteering at the Pittsburgh Marathon, cycling for Race to Anyplace, and participating in the 10,000 Step Challenge study. Engaging in the ES culture has allowed me to develop relationships with the ES professors and faculty and to meet and form friendships with my peers.

What were your reasons for selecting SRU?

The main reason that I selected SRU was because of the Exercise Science program. When I visited other universities, the representatives for the programs did not seem enthusiastic about what they had to offer. I can remember the first experience that I had meeting Exercise Science professors at SRU being enough for me to make my decision. Having professors that are enthusiastic, passionate, and practice what they teach are qualities that I only found at SRU. The Exercise Science program provides countless experiences for its students to learn outside of the classroom. I did not just want to learn about Exercise Science when I went to college, I wanted to become involved in the culture. SRU has exceeded my expectations in both what I have learned and what I have become involved in.

What learning opportunity in the classroom has been the most beneficial for you?

The learning opportunity in the classrom that has been the most beneficial for me has been developing and implementing an exercise prescription for my client as part of my Senior Synthesis class.  This assignment has provided me the opportunity to put all of the knowledge that I have gained in the Exercise Science curriculum to use.  Also, this assignment has taught me that having the ability to use critical thinking is a necessary skill, especially when working with a client.  The knowledge that I have gained when working with my client is transferable and will be benefical to me in my future career.


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