Faculty connection spurs student to success


emily eyth

Oct. 14, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Exercise and rehabilitative sciences professors at Slippery Rock University routinely teach about the importance of exercise in their classes. But they don't stop there. They also help students succeed by serving as life coaches and role models.

Just ask Emily Eyth. Eyth, an exercise science major from Butler who suffered severe basketball injuries in high school, said her exercise science professors have taught her that strengthening the heart is not just about running on a treadmill or bending into a downward dog for yoga. It's about strengthening one's resolve.

"When I first arrived at SRU, I automatically knew I found my home," Eyth said. "Part of this 'homey' feeling is due to the exercise science professors. All of them are such great mentors. I look up to them, and they have shown me that connecting is not just about going to class. It's about developing a blueprint for life."

Eyth said professors have helped her in many ways. They steered here to the Mid Atlantic Regional Chapter research conference, urged her to join clubs and connected her to SRU's 3 plus 3 program that transitions students from exercise science to the doctor of physical therapy program.

Eyth said Carena Winters, SRU assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, is not only a mentor but in many ways her SRU "Mom." They are in the midst of developing a research study together. Winters said they would be working with Jennifer Willford, associate professor of psychology, and psychology students to assess exercise behaviors and predictors of exercise behavior in SRU students.

"Emily has overcome a lot and is very driven to succeed," Winters said. "She was one of only two freshman who attended the MARC conference last year, and she is eager to begin research."

Eyth, a basketball player in high school, suffered two concussions and a broken neck but has made a full recovery.

"I went up for a rebound and I got the ball," she said. "The girl behind me apparently wasn't too happy. Instead of grabbing the ball, she grabbed my head and threw me over backwards."

She gained an appreciation for physical therapy during her own recovery and when it came time to decide what to do with her life, she enrolled at SRU in the exercise science program with the intent of becoming a physical therapist.

"Seeing what my physical therapists were able to do for me, helping to get me back on track with everyday, normal activities, I really appreciated all the hard work they put in for me. They made a difference in my life. The reason why I chose SRU is that someday I want to make a difference in someone's life too."

Eyth said she wants to work as a full-time physical therapist, with athletes, in an outpatient clinic.

"My best advice for current or future exercise science majors is to stick it out and keep working hard," she said. "You're going to want to pull your hair out some days. Believe me, I know. It's very challenging, but that's what I like about the major. I have so much pride in myself for sticking it out, and I am thankful to SRU and my professors for pushing me to continue working hard, to be dedicated and to show perseverance."

"Exercise science is the best major for me, "she said. "It makes you become a better, more well-rounded person."

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu