An all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and all-region performer in cross country, Albion College senior Amanda Weaver always aims to reach the finish line as quickly as possible. The speedy process of landing a place in her top choice for graduate school – from completing the application in January to interviewing and accepting in February – was surprising even by her standards.
A Marshall product, Weaver has confirmed her acceptance to the clinical exercise physiology program at Ball State University. She will be just one of six students accepted into the program out of a pool of 50 applicants, and she is on track for a career in cardiac rehabilitation.
“I really liked well-rounded programs with a clinical and research focus in addition to the academic program during the search process,” Weaver said.
“(The reality of finalizing plans for graduate school) hasn’t set in,” she added. “I feel happy and proud. I feel fortunate that it’s fallen into place.”
The Ball State program has an excellent reputation in large part due to its relationship with a local hospital. While the first year is primarily academic focused, second-year students gain hands-on experience prescribing exercise plans for patients recovering from heart illness or surgery. Weaver expects to complete a research project and thesis in the second half of the 21-month program.
“Many of the students produced by Albion’s kinesiology department have advanced to physical therapy programs,” kinesiology professor Heather Betz said. “Amanda’s acceptance to the Ball State program gives our students the knowledge that they too could qualify for clinical exercise physiology programs.”
A double major in kinesiology and psychology, Weaver was a student research partner for Tom Johnson, the director of campus wellness. In addition to examining the wellness programs available at other institutions, Weaver led the 100 million step challenge where the Albion campus community – faculty, staff, and students – was encouraged to log the number of steps they took each day in hopes of creating a more active environment.
Weaver’s experiential learning also included a directed study during her sophomore year where she prescribed workouts for older adults in the Albion community. She is currently serving as a teaching assistant to kinesiology professor Sharon Frandsen and the students working with individuals from the Albion Academy of Lifelong Learning.
“The students from the state universities who were interviewing with me didn’t have the hands-on experiences I’ve taken advantage of at Albion,” Weaver said. “They didn’t have the relationships with their professors, either.”
When thinking about connections with faculty, Weaver credited Betz for giving advice on topics ranging from attire to wear during an interview to the types of questions to expect.
“I don’t know what I would have done without Dr. Betz,” Weaver said. “I’m a skeptical person in general. Dr. Betz told me I’d get accepted somewhere. It was unbelievable when I got the phone call from Ball State.”
Comfortable with her decision to begin studying at Ball State in the fall, Weaver is returning her focus to moving ahead in her senior-year activities at Albion. The recipient of the kinesiology department’s Outstanding Junior Woman Award and the school-record holder in five track events, she insists on “keeping her grades where they’ve been” and earning a medal by finishing among the top three runners in an event at the MIAA Track & Field Championship in May. Adding the school record in the 10,000-meter run and advancing to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championship are also on the list of goals.