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Reflections of a Future Physical Assistant

The Johnson C. Smith University HealthPlex was opened in 2012 to encourage healthier lifestyles at JCSU and in the North West Corridor, providing fitness equipment, fitness programs and applied health research. Of the 1742 registered participants, 594 were community members of the North West Corridor that now have free access to the HealthPlex’ facility and its programs.

The establishment of the 5,700-square-foot facility not only provided research opportunities for faculty and staff, but it also afforded students the opportunity to engage in academically enhancing research on health, sport, and human performance . One such student is Imani Scott, a Biology major whose passion for health has fueled her ambition to become a physical assistant, tackling health issues that impact African-Americans.

Imani shared her summer research experience at the HealthPlex with the Smith Institute.

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As my sophomore year came to an end in May 2014, I was looking forward to summer school and my research position at the Johnson C. Smith University HealthPlex. I took three classes (the max that one can take during the summer), along with the research I was conducting with the HealthPlex wellness director, Victor Romano. I was of course especially looking forward to working out every day with the open access to the HealthPlex!

When the summer term began I made sure I got a solid foundation in my classes so I could enjoy my time there and obtain awesome grades. When I went into work at the HealthPlex, Mr. Romano informed me about a conference July 12th -15th in Las Vegas that we would attend if the abstract of our current project got approved. The research we were conducting was titled “Health Belief Model to Reduce Obesity Amongst African-American and Hispanic Populations.”

We collected this data from our Village Heartbeat program, a 16-week weight loss program that used 209 faith-based participants, African-American and Hispanic men and women between the ages of 18 and 80 from 15 churches. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of Health Coaching in the African-American and Hispanic communities, through a 16-week program called Village Heartbeat that attempted to reduce obesity.

After calculating the results from the study, the next move was to write-up the data: introduction, methods, results, conclusion. Following that, I created a presentation that would hold general information about the research process. Once that was completed, I spent the last week working on my verbal presentation.

Out of all of the steps, from collecting the data to writing and editing the paper, the most challenging component was the verbal presentation. I knew all of the information, but when it came time to delivering, I would speak so fast because I was nervous and wanted to be done with it. The 12 slide presentation was only 5 minutes long the first couple of times that I ran through it. I made it a point to slow down, so every day I would run through my presentation with a friend or colleague, treating it as a trial run. I also presented in front of people I did not know so that I would be comfortable with both. I finally got it up to 12 minutes by the end of the week, just in time for the conference that was two days away.

I felt blessed to have been given that opportunity, and was excited to be traveling to Las Vegas, (I had never visited there before). My flight, hotel room, and food were paid for. All I had to do was worry about my presentation. The 3 hour time difference threw me off but I know I definitely got enough rest the night before the conference. That morning I woke up well rested and proceeded to put on my snazzy blue and white suit, I reviewed my notes, and I was ready.

We arrived at the conference and listened to all of the intriguing research presentations. There was a lady from China who spoke on some interesting topics. I was the only student researcher there. As it got closer and closer to my time to present, I became a little anxious. I knew Mr. Romano would be there to assist with answering any questions that exceeded my knowledge, but I was still a bit nervous. Surprisingly when the time came for me to present, I went up there and rocked it. Everyone seemed to be pleased with my presentation and I could finally exhale…fully.

All that was left was to enjoy the city. It was beautiful!  My supervisor, Elliot Royal, came along so that I had female companion and that made the trip all the more amazing. Pictures were taken, souvenirs were bought and before we knew it, it was time to go home. I came back with stories to tell and a great experience under my belt.

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