A love of athletics, a desire for being a part of a career based around community and an interest in wellness and the medical field have blended to create an ideal vocation for Mary (Sallach) Pust, a 2013 Waynesburg University athletic training alumna.
Pust currently serves as a licensed athletic trainer for a North Carolina hospital where she does outreach work at a local 1A high school/middle school. Her daily responsibilities include working at the school, being part of committees at the hospital, as well as being a part of educational seminars in the hospital and around the community. Far from the stereotype of an individual responsible for taping ankles and keeping athletes hydrated, Pust is always on her toes, daily utilizing some aspect of her Waynesburg University education.
Prepared both in the classroom and through a “vast array of clinical settings,” Pust’s multitude of hands-on experiences has not only led to the development of the critical skills necessary for a fast-paced field, but is also to credit for her confidence in her abilities.
“In this profession, the more experience you have, the better off you will be,” she said. “I am working in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains with no one around me. I learned not only how to be a great athletic trainer, but how to be self-sufficient, have confidence and know when to ask for outside help.”
Pust acknowledges that her own experiences with injury as an athlete have also played a part in her journey. Requiring her to spend more time in the training room, Pust’s injuries also became blessings in disguise as she developed lasting relationships with her high school athletic trainer and sports medicine physician.
Ironically, those relationships inspired Pust to want to become the same type of mentor she was fortunate enough to have. Working with kids in grades 7-12, Pust has the opportunity to make a difference in countless ways.
“My biggest goal every day when I go in to work is to be a positive role model for the kids I work with,” she said.
Pust also puts a special emphasis on education and prioritizes teaching parents, coaches and the community about topics including emergency action plans, concussions, nutrition, health insurance, strength and conditioning, among many others.
“My profession has the rare opportunity to work with individuals every day. I see their highs, their lows, get to know families, and become part of a community,” she said.
Pust said many Waynesburg professors influenced her path, challenging her to relate her textbooks to real life and pushing her to “know more than [she] thought [she] needed at the time.”
Pust said she not only left Waynesburg feeling professionally prepared, but also had the opportunity to experience spiritual growth.
“Waynesburg helped me find myself as a Christian in this modern world. I explored different denominations and was introduced to many ideas, concepts and beliefs. It was being able to share one main goal of serving and praising God with others that really gave me a connection to the school,” she said.
As a result, Pust said she found her light and “will continue to let [it] shine."