Summary Synthesis

The title of my Interdisciplinary Studies major is Exercise and Psychological Sciences. The focus of my major is encompassing all aspects of exercise and sport while also focusing on the mental health aspect of sport. I chose my courses to understand the following:

  • Bio-mechanics of movement
  • How to teach and instruct exercises
  • Psychological theories and models regarding athletes in an individual and team setting
  • How to create exercise plans
  • Today’s mental health issues
  • The many mental health disorders as outlined by the DSM-5
  • Anatomy and physiology of the human body
  • Effects of mental health on athletes

I fused many disciplines together such as psychology, exercise, biology, communications, and sport administration. This fusion of disciplines has led me to pursue graduate school in sport administration with a focus in intercollegiate athletics with the hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in sport psychology.

Applied Project

I decided to an applied project in conjunction with Residential Life at Plymouth State University because I am very interested in working with college students in a higher education system. Working with the staff in Blair Hall I was able to reach out to students and staff in order to create an improved Blair Fitness Facility. This contributed to my education in many ways and allowed me to explore all aspects of exercise, psychology, and administration. I was able to create and promote a variety of programs and other material among the facility as well as come up with plans to improve the facility. This gave me a great opportunity to take initiative and have a hands-on experience within my field of education.

Research Article

For my research article I chose to explore the effect of eating disorders on college athletes both female and male. The reason on focused on this topic is because I am passionate about both mental health and exercise as well as this is a rising issue in athletics. As a volleyball coach and collegiate player, I see athletes every day struggle with a variety of issues especially self-confidence. Self-confidence can lead to a variety of issues as outlined in my research article, however, eating disorders is one of the most prominent issues that can arise. This enhanced my educational experience because I was able to research something that I am very passionate about and then share it with others. I believe my work was able to start conversations with others and hopefully reduce the stigma around these issues.

Conclusion

My program courses paired very well with both my applied project and research article. My many comprehensive and detailed courses prepared to not only research and understand these complex topics and issues, but to talk about the topics professionally and without judgement. This impacted my education greatly and empowered me to move forward with my education and career. These courses and educational experiences have encouraged me to pursue graduate school and continue to help and advocate for athletes struggling with mental health.

PLN Portfolio: Senior Year Edition

As my college career comes to a close, I begin to reflect on my time at Plymouth State as well as my time as an Interdisciplinary Studies student. Part of this reflection begins with my personal learning network (PLN). When I first embarked on my journey as an IDS student, I did not even know what a PLN was let alone how to create such a thing. With the help of many friends, professors, and amazing IDS staff I was able to receive the guidance and encouragement needed to create my PLN.

For my PLN this past semester, I originally attempted to create a LinkedIn account, however, I was really unsure of how to use this for my field and it did not prove effective nor something often used in my field. Therefore, I chose to step away from the usage of LinkedIn and focus more on Twitter as a platform for my PLN.

My career goals since the IDS introduction course have changed quite a bit from Occupational Therapy to Sport Psychology in Higher Education. With this change came a change in my PLN. I followed many athletic conferences and organizations across the United States and globe as well as some of the leaders in today’s field of sport psychology. I often used posts from these connections on Twitter to fuel my passion for my own ePort posts.

Below you will find many of my tweets this semester that I either felt very proud of or gained attention from other members in my PLN.

This specific tweet gained lots of attention within my PLN and I was very proud of myself as it showed all the effort I have made while on my IDS journey as paid off. This tweet was retweeted by a leading behavioral health expert and the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference. This tweet was also liked by many people including the Fordham Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

Retweeting and bringing awareness to mental health issues both related to sport and not was something I focused heavily on while continuing to build my PLN this past semester.

 

I also enjoyed celebrating my successes because of the IDS department!

 

Plymouth State Athletics does a great job promoting different organizations and raising money for charity. I used my PLN to promote some of these events as well as encourage others to take the same steps forward in combating today’s large issues with sport.

Promoting my own ePort posts was another great way to get my ideas out to my PLN while also continuing to develop ideas and passion for my work.

 

As someone who wants to work in higher education, I found it very beneficial to follow and retweet what the pioneers and leaders in this field were exploring and talking about.

Looking at large mental health initiatives and promoting these events as a way to build my PLN allowed me to explore today’s up and coming ideas of how to combat issues such as addiction.

Final Applied Project Article

For my final applied project article, I have collected a series of pictures and materials that I have worked on developed throughout this past semester. The goal of all these materials was to update, improve, and promote the Blair Fitness Facility as well as show students the benefit of exercising as it relates to mental health. My large goal was to service the students and better their experience in the Blair Hall Fitness Facility. Ultimately, all these small efforts led to one large event in which I was able to sit down with students are receive feedback on my work as well as talk to them about exercising and mental health. Below I have divided my applied project experience into five sections based on process I went through over the semester.

Prepping

To begin the preparation of my project I went and did an inventory of the space as well as took some pictures of the space as it was presented to me.

Blair Gym Inventory

The space is fairly large and included various pieces of equipment as outlined in the inventory. The reason doing this inventory was so crucial to the success of the project was in order to create effective workouts for students I wanted to create them around the equipment available in the Blair Fitness Facility.

Bulletin Boards

Over the semester I was able to create three bulletin boards in the Blair Fitness Facility. Each of the bulletin boards created targeted a different muscle group as well as I made extra workout plans for students to take with them. Below are pictures from the first bulletin board I presented which was based on the core muscles!

Materials for this bulletin board can also be found using this link: BB1-Core

I also created two workout plans for the arm and leg muscles which can be found using these links: BB2-Arm BB3-Legs

I found that many of the copies of the workout plans went fairly quickly and usually within about two weeks I would need to refill the folder with more workouts. For each workout I printed 25 copies for students to take. On average during the first week there was about 15 copies taken leaving 10 extra. I thought this was really effective as students could take the workouts from the bulletin boards and do them in their rooms or when they went home for the weekend. Each exercise was explained clearly on the bulletin board using key phrases to explain as well as pictures to visually show the exercise.

Information Presented

Throughout the semester I tried to present a variety of facts to students using flyers, brochures, and talking with students in the facility when I did my check-ins of the space. I created these flyers and brochures as a way for students to get more information about mental health and its connection to exercise as I believe many students are unaware of the connection. These artifacts sparked a lot of conversation with students and many of them asking me questions about resources on campus as well as places to find workout plans or self-lead yoga sessions. Talking with students was one of the most beneficial parts of this project and really helped me having those living learning and teaching moments with students. Below you can find links to some of the flyers and brochures I created to educate students!

Stressed_

Tips for a Better Workout

Another part of my project was working with the Community Director, Erica Burke, to create a wish list for the space in order to better serve the community. I went online and found the best and most cost-efficient products and have since shared this with CD Burke in hopes that she will be able to obtain some of these pieces for the space. Many of the ideas of what to put on the wish list I got from residents of Blair Hall who used the facility often. Many requested more variety in dumbbell weights as well as mirrors to see themselves while working out. Here is a link to the wish list I was able to create: Wishlist

In addition to working with Community Director Erica Burke, we also discussed creating more flyers for the space to talk about the equipment in the facility. I made posters for the cardio machines which also included facts! Here is a link to those posters: Equipment Info. Sheets

“Let’s Talk about Wellness” Final Event

As a conclusion to my applied project I held a session of talking to students about the updates made to the facility as well as what other updates they would like to see done. I promoted the facility and gave out any information I had to offer. This was also a great way to talk to students about the IDS program and the projects we do. It was great to talk to students about the freedom I had in choosing my project and how this was truly something built from passion.

Overall, I would say this event was very successful and I received a lot of great feedback from students. I was also able to connect with students I previously spoke with and catch up on their progress. It was really encouraging to see so many students passionate about both exercise and mental health!

Here is a link to the flyer I used to promote the Blair Fitness Facility and get residents to attend my event!  Lets Talk About Wellness

What I Gained from This Experience

From this experience I learned so many things especially how to manage and promote a space. As someone who is passionate about health, both physical and mental I found this project very rewarding. Being able to speak with students and share information about something I’m passionate about is extremely humbling. I hope that I have impacted the students as much as they have impacted me.

Another skill I gained from this experience was the ability to create something fun using the material I learned in class. In my field of exercise, it is crucial that I am able to explain not only exercises, but scientific material to people in a way that is understandable and can easily be applied to their lives. Whether that is through conversations, information boards, or writing materials I have learned how to convey my message in a unique and understandable way.

A10 Mental Health Awareness Week #A10STRONG

Above, you will notice a tweet from the University of Richmond. This week is the A10 (Atlantic 10) Mental Health Awareness Week which is often promoted across the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference college campuses. Small efforts like the one you see above normalize and reduce the stigma of mental health amongst our world. As someone who is looking to pursue a career in how mental health plays a pivotal role in athletics, this is encouraging to see current institutions also passionate about this bond between mental health and athletics. College athletes struggle every day with a variety of things ranging from time managment to dealing with the pressures of being an athlete. It is important that athletic organizations and departments place the same emphasis on mental health as they do physical health. I applaud the Atlantic 10 for designing a whole week into raising awareness for mental health and helping reduce the stigma. My hope is that other schools and organizations will follow the lead of the Atlantic 10 as each effort is another step forward.

Bulletin Board #2

This past week has been an exciting week for me as I have really been absorbing all I am able to learn in my project. I was able to put up a second bulletin board focusing on the toning and strengthening of the arms (BB2-Arm). I was also able to create an inventory and wishlist for the fitness facility and am now researching ways to get the equipment as well as what physical and mental benefits this would bring to students. With this connection between mind and body, I have created an informational flyer to educate students about the connection between mind and body.

Research Article Outline

As a visual learner, I often outline my work by creating an image either handwritten or digitally. To keep my process moving forward, I have choosen to create a web on Microsoft Word outlining what topics I will breakdown and cover throughout my work. This web can be found by clicking on the link to my RA Web.

Resources for College Student-Athletes

This week I really focused on my feelings regarding the issue of athletes with eating disorders in college. I think an essential part of research is being able to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings and brainstorm your own ideas and/or solutions. I believe the largest issue in this situation is the lack of resources at colleges. We see at big universities that there are often psychologists and team mental health coaches, but the issue is most universities are not this size nor have the budget. Having sport psychologists and counselors specifically for athletes I believe is beneficial since many athletes deal with different issues and pressures that the normal student does not face. Reflecting on what resources we have PSU, we have many resources, but do not have specialized resources for athletes. On campus, PSU offers the counseling center to students which includes individual therapy as well as group therapy. Other mental health services that PSU offers is Lakes Region Mental Health, which offers discounts to students of PSU. Health Services will also provide medication to students at PSU for mental health issues. I believe PSU offers many services to its students, but more specific for student-athletes is what is needed to make our mental health care here better. I also feel as though having a nutritionist on campus that is specifically trained to help with the recovery of eating disorders would be beneficial to all students. We have a nutritionist in the dining hall, but not one for student athletes, let alone anyone on campus that has the specific skills to help any student with an eating disorder. My hope is that PSU will continue to move forward with the services they offer as well as other universities will see the importance of having specific resources for student-athletes.

Building A Strong Core: Bulletin Board Week One

This week I focused on creating a simple workout that targeted the core and their supporting muscles. I created a two-week core workout that will guide students through these exercises. I left 20 copies of this workout on the bulletin board and will be checking in every few days to hopefully refill this part of the board! I am hoping as well to get some time this week to speak with students and guide them through the workout! Here is the link to the information: BB1-Core