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Health Science

Emma AyresmanEmma Ayresman '25

Why did you decide to study health science?

I decided to study health science because I knew I wanted to go into the health field. Helping people hands-on is something I have always been interested in, and learning about the body fascinates me. Health science is a great major for people who want to get all of their prerequisites for graduate school done and for people who are trying to figure out what part of healthcare they want to pursue. I came into the program wanting to become a physical therapist, and with this major, if I ever wanted to change my mind, there is flexibility to change specialties while still having all of the foundational knowledge.

What class has been your favorite so far, and why?  

My favorite class so far has been Anatomy & Physiology because it is applicable to everyday life, and I can see myself really using the knowledge I learned from that class to help people in the future. Professor Justin Ulbright, who teaches the course, is really passionate about the course and is a huge factor in why I am so engaged in class. He also does a fantastic job linking faith to the course, which makes this class so special. My faith has strengthened by seeing the uniqueness of the human body and how we are specifically crafted. By getting to study the complexities of God's creation of humanity with this lens, trekking through a mountain of content seems enjoyable.

Tell us about a unique experience or project you've worked on for your major.

A unique project I have done for my major was called the personal health inventory project. This project consisted of tracking various personal health outcomes such as, but not limited to, sleep, exercise and diet. Through the course, we learned how each of the categories we tracked impacted daily life. By completing the project, I learned how various factors impact the health of an individual, and when someone becomes unhealthy, we should look at all the factors of health.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in health science?  

If you do not know what type of healthcare you want to enter into, that is OK! This major is built to help students find out what interests them and provides great opportunities to pursue those interests. For those of you who already know that you want to go to grad school eventually, this major includes most of your prerequisites.

What's your dream job?    

My dream job is to return to my home, Maui, as a physical therapist. At home, I would like to expand the proximity of healthcare to people who live in distant towns.  

Who are three people who have made a difference for you at Whitworth?

John Pell, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, has made a memorable difference in my life. Initially, I was in one of his writing classes, but our student-professor relationship did not stop there. He was genuinely interested in my life and deeply cared for me. He challenged me to think critically and through writing, he gave me a space to wrestle with big life questions through his class. Even though I am no longer a student of his, he always takes the time to catch up with me when I do see him.  

My soccer coach Cameron Bushéy has impacted me by showing me how faith and soccer are intertwined. He challenges me to improve my soccer skills and also to develop spiritually on and off the field. Coach Cameron shows me that he cares for who I am as a whole – as an athlete, a student and a Christian.

Professor Kent McDonald has impacted my spiritual and social life. He has personally reached out on several different occasions to check in on me. He is one of many professors who show they genuinely care for you. I took his Foundations of Christian Leadership class with over 40 students, and he still made an effort to connect with me personally. 

Biruk KebedeBiruk Kebede '22

Why did you decide to study health science?

I've always been motivated to help people and more so the community in the field of healthcare, and health science captivated me because it focused on equipping students with skills and experiences by taking a holistic approach to health. I chose health science because it gradually prepares you by teaching classes like Personal Health and Nutrition. It also helps you explore how the body functions in Anatomy & Physiology and understand the social determinants of health in Community Health.

What are some of your favorite classes so far?

Foundations of Health Sciences was one of my favorite classes because I got a broader understanding of the various fields in healthcare, and how they are interconnected. Prior to taking this class, I knew I wanted to pursue the health field, but I was not sure where I would fit in. This class guided me through guest speakers who shared their experiences and examinations of contemporary health issues.

Tell us about a unique experience you've had or project you've worked on for your major.

I am keenly anticipating classes I plan to take in the next year; however, the Personal Health Inventory project in Personal Health was one of the great experiences that I have continuously utilized. It focused on one's holistic health: physical, mental, spiritual and social health. This project helped me in preparing myself holistically for this time-demanding major. It involved exercise logging, sleep tracking, nutrition and much more.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in health science?

I would say if you're someone who's passionate about helping people in the health field, this major would be a great fit. It will prepare you for the long run through focusing on your health and how you'd serve others in the community. Also, if you're someone who's unsure of what you want to pursue, this major exposes you to various areas. I know people who have switched their specific interest in the field of healthcare, for example, by going from pre-med to pre-physician assistant, or public health to community health.

What's your dream job?

I aspire to be in higher education someday. I am interested in public health but also the clinical aspect of the health field. At Whitworth, I've had the opportunity to be a supplemental instructor and a teaching assistant for a couple of classes, and I knew I was passionate about teaching. I want to educate people about public health.

Who has been an important connection for you at Whitworth, and why?

I can attest that Whitworth has connected me with a lot of people, and I am continuously growing because of the impact these people have had on me. My advisor, Dr. Abbey in the health sciences department, has had a significant impact on me. She has been guiding me by giving helpful advice, giving me an opportunity to be her TA, and connecting me with resources at Whitworth to gain more experience. I am thankful for that.


Mason VelasquezMason Velasquez '22

Why did you decide to study health science?

I want to become a physician assistant, but I chose health science because it is a road that can lead to many different career paths. The best part about it is that I took my biology and chemistry classes to start (because that is what is needed for most of the careers I was looking at) and got to decide where I wanted to go as I went. This is a unique benefit of being a health science major.

What are some of your favorite classes so far? 

My favorite classes have been Anatomy & Physiology I and II and Exercise Physiology. I fell in love with anatomy when I took an anatomy class in high school, and I had been eager to take the course from the moment I got accepted into Whitworth. The lab was by far my favorite, specifically the bones, because it reminded me of my favorite TV show, Bones. Exercise Physiology pushed me to get to a level of understanding that I had never had in any subject before, and once I put in the work it showed me what I was capable of at my best. Moreover, it was taught by hands down my favorite professor at Whitworth, Matt Silvers.

Tell us about a unique experience you have had or project you have worked on for your major. 

A unique experience I have had is getting to be a lab teaching assistant for Anatomy & Physiology. As I went through the course, I found myself wandering around the lab helping my fellow classmates before I even realized being a TA was a possibility, and then one day a TA asked if I would be interested since I was basically doing the job already. It has given me the opportunity to teach and give the incoming students tips on how to survive such a hard class and make friendships along the way with people I would not have interacted with otherwise.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in health science? 

If you are set on pursuing a career in the medical field but do not know what you want to do yet, this is exactly the right major for you. You can take the courses required for most careers in the medical field, such as biology and chemistry, and have some time to decide on a career path. For example, I wanted to be a physician, took all my chemistry and biology classes, and then realized in my freshman year Jan Term while taking Foundations of Health Science that I want to be a physician assistant instead. Because I was already taking the classes I needed, nothing had to change.

What's your dream job?  

My dream job would be to work as a physician assistant in a practice that specializes in treating dancers. Along with a health science major, I am completing a minor in dance and hope to keep dance a part of my life. It is common for medical professionals to understand the body mechanics of mainstream athletes such as football players, runners, soccer players, etc., but from the individuals I have spoken with it seems that the mechanics of dance are not as well known. My dream job would bridge this gap and give me the opportunity to interact with dance in my profession even if I no longer get to dance myself.

Who has been an important connection for you at Whitworth, and why? 

Toby Schwarz, the cross country and track & field coach at Whitworth. He has been a mentor to me since the day I met him, and whether it is advice on running, grades, life or my faith, he always has something helpful to say. My favorite saying of his is, “Control what you can control and pray about the rest.” I think about that saying every time I encounter an obstacle in life, from something as minute as a rolled ankle to the death of a loved one. At the end of the day, worrying about things you cannot control will do no good; in fact, it will only do harm. Reminding myself to rely on God and push on in any way I can has been the biggest motivation I have experienced at Whitworth, and that is all thanks to Toby Schwarz.

What's something that surprised you or might surprise other students about your major?

When there is no global pandemic happening, we would normally get to look at cadavers and study the muscles and get to play around with high-tech equipment in the human performance lab for our classes. It is so much fun!

Why did you choose to attend Whitworth?

I am a runner and dancer from Southern California, so I was looking for a school with Division III sports, a good science program, and one that offers a dance minor. It had all these things, and I felt at home the moment I visited campus for the first time.

Learn more about Whitworth's Health Science, B.S. program

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