New Exercise Science major opens door for health and fitness careers

By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kentucky Wesleyan College is set to offer a new degree under its Kinesiology and Health Promotion department, opening the door for students to focus in on more specific career paths within the field.

The new degree offered will be in exercise science, with sub-paths in exercise science and health and fitness leadership, said Roger Gardner, chair of the department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. The need for the new degree became clear when the department did a self-assessment of its offerings, Gardner said. The department will also continue to offer a degree in sports management and a physical education teacher certification, Gardner said.

The degree is currently awaiting approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“This is what we have determined is best for our majors, to offer two new programs,” Gardner said. “As with most majors we’ll be appealing to different populations of students.”

Jason Crandall, assistant professor of kinesiology and health promotion, said in part, the degree will be for higher certifications required in these career fields.

“(It’s) designed to prepare our students to eventually take the American College of Medicine’s Sports Medicine exam,” Crandall said.

But when it comes to the populations that graduates of this programs will help, Gardner said there are some big differences between the two paths.

“The distinction between the two tracks is that exercise science, those folks can work with people who have chronic diseases. The health and fitness leadership majors would work with a healthier population (to prevent diseases),” Gardner said. “The health and fitness leadership, these people can get personal trainer certifications, work at YMCAs, organizations like our HealthPark, corporate fitness centers and community wellness (facilities).”

In recent months, Crandall has been working with students, taking them to local schools and children’s care locations such as Girls Inc., the H.L. Neblett Community Center, various elementary schools and other places. The goal is to also have the students in these programs gain experience in working with the community and those in need, whether young or old.

“I think what separates our department from other departments, our exercise science program from others, is what separates Wesleyan from other schools, the one-on-one time students get and our commitment to community service,” Crandall said. “I think the dedication to the service (of others) is something you won’t find anywhere else. They’re actually changing people’s lives.”

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