4th Quarter, 2008
Medical Professions Scholarship Winner
Mara M. Winters is a 2007 graduate of Christopher Newport University with a B. A. in Biology with an emphasis on health. Currently she is serving as Facility Coordinator of the Freeman Center Sport and Fitness Pavilion. She as recently earned her Group Instructor Certification from Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and loves teaching classes such as Step Aerobics, Body Sculpt and Kickboxing. Mara’s goal is to one day become a Physical Therapist. Until then she will continue to promote and uphold the importance of good physical health through her devotion to Physical Fitness. “
A Portion of Mara’s Winning Essay:
My younger brother was born with a club foot or talipes equinovarus. From the day he was born he had to endure months of physical therapy. As big sister, I was often the person at home to help him with exercises and comfort him when he was in a cast. Maxwell was also born with a speech impediment and I also accompanied him to many visits to a speech therapist.
In working with my little brothers and his therapist, their kind words and actions in helping him overcome his ailments influenced my decision on what I wanted to be in life. It was during this time that I realized that I would use the values of public service instilled in me by one day becoming a health professional.
Growing up the daughter of a minister, my father always instilled the value of public service. My father served the community through his ministry and because of is work; I have always had an example of the devotion to public service. Along with his ministry, he also showed me the importance of being a good citizen in family life. He always said,” that in a family and in life, all people need to work in order for a greater good to be achieved.”
As I entered high school I had a fondness of the sciences. In a biology class I learned that one of the characteristics of a living organism is that it has the ability to do work, and must transform energy. This had a profound effect on my outlook of life. I concluded that I would no longer be living if I did not do some type of work. I need to use the energy that is given to me as a means to help others.
My goal is to use the higher education that I have received and becoming licensed by a physical therapy assistance program to fulfill my career aspirations and allow me to assist those in the community with physical challenges.
Throughout my undergraduate career at Christopher Newport University, I was very involved in extra curricular activities. Since my father could not pay for my college education, I worked at the Freeman Center (the campus gym) all four years of my undergraduate career. The Freeman Center was the best choice of employment for me because they hold a high value of customer service and I enjoy being in an environment that promotes physical fitness.
While at the Freeman Center I was dedicated not only to my duties of my job but also the well being of patrons that used the facility. I started off as a “Front Liner” one who enforced safety by cleaning equipment and watching members as they recreated. Along with that, I greeted members as they entered the building which is a requirement of the employees, but I also from time to time used my caring nature to amplify the customer service aspect of the job.
I can remember one night in particular while showing a new member how to use the exercise equipment she began telling me about when she came to CNU she was afraid to use the gym. After listing to her thoughts and comments, I provided her with information not only about the Freeman Center, but also other various organizations on campus. She thanked me for my time and from that she was a frequent visitor to the Freeman Center.
There were many times that I encouraged students, faculty and staff to use the facility which resulted in benefits to their health. I encouraged one male student who came in on a regular basis by being kind every time he checked out a basketball and he eventually lost weight. I brought me joy to see his progression from a person who was not in the greatest of physical conditions to a person who was a toned and the perfect candidate for a before an after success story.
I do believe that because I showed so much interest in my job through my duties of enforcing policy and providing a welcoming environment that I was able to be a successful employee.
After my first semester of working at the Freeman Center I was recommended to be a Building Supervisor. I served in that role for two years. In that position, I helped the Front Line (in which I was now their superior) to uphold the value of customer service and promoting of physical fitness. I was a conflict mediator for employees that were having issues with performing there jobs. Often I was referred to as a veteran supervisor because I possessed experience and due to the time and effort I put into the job. This allowed fellow supervisors to come to me for guidance when they had questions.
Many times I took the initiative to complete many projects that needed to be done. One of these projects came about due to the fire that destroyed Madison, a residence hall on campus. The possessions of the students that occupied the apartment style residence hall were evacuated to the Freeman Center. I took it upon myself as a volunteer, to coordinate the relief efforts for the fire. I was there to open and close the building, provide parents and students with information, provide a designated area for donations. The relief was a success as the students were able to retrieve much of their belongings and also, there was also tremendous outpour of donations from the community.
I believe that this in turn provided students with support to get through a difficult time.
Due to my efforts in helping others, I believe that was the reason I was promoted to Facility Coordinator of the Freeman Center my senior year. With this job I try to encourage my employees to not only be successful in their job, but also give them skills to take when they leave employment from the Freeman Center. I do so by providing them with the resources to be trained in customer service, education on sexual harassment prevention, and leadership skills.
My four years of working at the Freeman Center has sculpted me to be a leader and has given skills to continue in other professional establishments. Along with working at the Freeman Center, I was also a student athlete as member of the Track and Field team. I was able to balance academics, training and competition, and working. I was disciplined in time management skills. It was very demanding, however I was successful. I was recognized by the athletic department for academic excellence for the spring 2004 and fall 2005 semesters. I was a conference champion, and competed in the NCAA Track and Field National Championships five times.
Education has always been my first priority; however, I may have spread my self too thin. I believe my involvement in my school and community has molded me into the person I am today. My public service is a compliment to the education I have acquired.
Even though I was very successful as an athlete, it was no easy task. I endured many injuries which resulted in many hours of rehabilitation in physical therapy provided by the Sport Medicine services on campus. My injuries consisted of rehabilitation of a pulled hamstring which required lots of stretching and strengthening techniques, iliotibial band syndrome, patellar tendonitis also known as jumper’s knee. I also had to endure three cortisone injections to my sacroiliac joint, due to a calcium deposit that developed from the stresses inflicted on my body from training. Due to this particular in jury I under went many tests, from bone scans to x rays. Also I had many manipulations and rotations of my hips by the athletic trainers.
Being a patient, I learned the importance of having someone to work with you who was not only knowledgeable of the anatomy of the injury, but also someone who cared for the feelings of the patient. The trainers at Christopher Newport were always very kind and often engaged with me in dialog about injuries and allowed me to be an observer of rehabilitation procedures of injuries to other athletes; as they were aware of my aspirations to become a Physical Therapist.
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