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Becoming role models for future generations

Maria Vito, physical education and kinesiology major, chose the West Virginia University PEK program because it combined two of her passions: working with children and seeing them succeed and promoting a physically active lifestyle.

As a PEK student, Vito says that the professors in the department and college have provided “massive” amounts of support. “They are always there to make sure that everything is going well, whether it be with my academics or mental health,” said Vito, from Bentleyville, Pa.

Vito says that WVU offers a wide array of recreation and professional development opportunities. On a personal level, she appreciates the life-long friends she has made and the environment at the sporting events.

Although Vito considered a career in physical education throughout high school, she did not decide on the major until her first semester of college. “I knew I wanted to work with children. The chances of me being able to accomplish that in the major I started in were very low,” she said. “After I complete the program, I have hopes of becoming either an elementary or middle school physical education teacher.”

The WVU PEK program provides numerous clinical experiences where students go onsite and teach young children to young adults. “Students work with faculty members with a wide range of expertise in the field to develop their teaching effectiveness and explore their own professionalism to be role models for future generations,” Emi Tsuda, PEK assistant professor, said.

“As a field that has a central role in promoting children and adolescents' physical activity and overall well-being in school settings, students will be prepped to make an impact in people's lives once they earn their degree from our program,” Tsuda added. Plus, students can benefit from knowing that the WVU PEK program is nationally accredited and standards- and research-based.

Vito tells other students trying to decide on their major to stick to their passion. “The biggest piece of advice I have for students is to not steer away from a career because of what others may think or say about it,” she said. “You are getting a college degree for yourself; therefore, you need to do whatever is going to make you the happiest.”

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