Blog posts tagged in athletic training alumni

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When Jennifer Armstrong, a 2002 Waynesburg University alumna, thinks back to her time as an athletic training major, she remembers the friendly atmosphere. With only 15 people in her class, Armstrong said strong friendships were formed through clinic hours, travelling with different sports teams, studying and spending time together outside of class. But even more than that, Armstrong remembers how the Athletic Training Program prepared her for success in the professional world.

“Our faculty pushed us and prepared us for what a career in athletic training would really be like,” said Armstrong. “It’s a behind-the-scenes, thankless job, but it is so rewarding. I’m so thankful for my time at [Waynesburg University] and all of my amazing experiences.”

Today, Armstrong is the head athletic trainer/teacher at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia; and in the past three months, she has been recognized by numerous professional bodies for her stellar work.

In early January, she received the Virginia Athletic Trainer’s Association Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year, which is given annually to a trainer in a secondary school setting.

Later that same month, Armstrong won the Gatorade Secondary School Athletic Trainer Award. After being nominated by a colleague, Armstrong was recognized for making “outstanding contributions in furthering her high school’s athletic care program or the overall profession of secondary school education.” Only 10 athletic trainers in the nation receive this award; Armstrong is representing Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Then, in March, Armstrong was awarded the National Athletic Training Association Servant’s Heart Award, which recognizes secondary school trainers in each district for service to the profession, schools and communities.

“I feel very humbled and blessed that people think so highly of me as an [athletic trainer] that they would nominate me for these amazing awards,” Armstrong said. “I am so happy to be one of the people who can help bring awareness to the athletic training profession, as well as represent E.C. Glass and my community nationally.”

On a typical day at E.C. Glass, Armstrong is responsible for the first aid and emergency response, evaluation of injuries, rehabilitation, concussion management and other needs of approximately 750 athletes. She attends the practices and games of all sports, working with both athletes and coaches. She also teaches athletic training courses to approximately 50 junior and senior students.

Outside of school, Armstrong is a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association and an adjunct instructor at Central Virginia Community College. She is chair of the Virginia Athletic Trainer’s Association Secondary Schools Athletic Trainer’s Committee, and a preceptor for athletic training students at Liberty University and Lynchburg College.

Armstrong said it is challenging to achieve a balance with so many responsibilities, but her career field is so rewarding.

“My favorite part about being an [athletic trainer] is the relationships that I am able to form with student-athletes, parents, coaches, and administrators,” she said. “I am always striving to be the difference in someone’s life through my career…this profession allows me to impact so many young people’s lives.”

Armstrong said that being a health care professional means putting others’ needs first—something she is looking forward to for the rest of her career. She loves where her career path has led her, and she wants to continue advancing the profession as a whole.

“I am always trying to advocate for the profession,” she said. “I want to continue to educate high schools locally, statewide, regionally and nationally that having an [athletic trainer] is not a luxury but a necessity.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Giuliani.jpgWaynesburg University alumna Hayden Giuliani is an athlete at heart. She maintained her passion for sports by playing basketball throughout her career at Waynesburg. After four years with dedicated mentors, however, Giuliani determined that she does not just want to play sports – she wants to help make life better for other athletes.

Giuliani began her college journey as an athletic training major and eventually added an exercise science major during her junior year as she discovered more about her calling. She is now enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), pursuing a graduate degree in exercise physiology.

“I’m excited, especially because I think Waynesburg provided me with a strong physiology background and the confidence to succeed at the next level,” said Giuliani.

Giuliani names Dr. Bryan Hamilton, a professor of biology at the University, as one of her primary positive influencers. Along with other coaches and professors, Hamilton encouraged Giuliani to aim high, which Giuliani said has worked out quite well.

Giuliani loves her chosen field because of the opportunities to serve others as an athletic trainer.

“I think this field helps people tremendously,” she said. “We have the opportunity to meet people where they are in their lives, hear what their goals are and help them through every step of the process. I know how it feels to be on both sides of this relationship, and being the helper brings more joy than anything else.”

With options including athletic training, coaching, teaching and more open to her, Giuliani has not nailed down which specific career path she will choose.  She plans to use her experiences at UNC to slim down the list of possibilities.

“I am hoping my time at UNC will narrow my interests and open doors of opportunity that will ultimately guide my path after graduation,” she said. “But I see myself as a teacher or basketball coach, while also working with strength training and exercise.”

Giuliani feels her Waynesburg education pushed her to take risks and introspectively determine the best path to success for herself.

“I’ve learned to step outside my comfort box and take the extra step,” said Giuliani. “In that way, as a person, I am stronger, more open to ideas and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Mary-Pust_20150728-170155_1.jpgA 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."

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Clarice-Tice.jpgClarice Tice, 2014

Athletic Trainer at Waverly High School in Waverly, N.Y., and a tech at ProCare Physical Therapy in Athens, Pa.

When Clarice Tice entered the workforce, she felt confident in her abilities to succeed as a result of the strong athletic training background she gained as an undergraduate at Waynesburg University.

“Having the many different opportunities Waynesburg afforded me, such as clinicals, really equipped me for my job,” said Tice. “Being able to complete athletic training hours at the local high school for a semester was extremely helpful.”

Employed by ProCare Physical Therapy, Tice instructs a variety of patients on proper exercise. In the afternoon, she travels to Waverly High School where she works every practice and game for the middle and high school students.

As a former student who was heavily involved in extracurricular activities on campus, Tice believes that participating in these opportunities was very beneficial for her career.

“Make the most of the time you have at Waynesburg and take all the opportunities and learning experiences you can,” said Tice. “They will help shape and mold you as a professional.”

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