Elon University / Today in Elon / #ElonCity 2022 in the spotlight: Hailey Jurgens, exercise science

In this series, Elon College, College of Arts and Sciences, directs the light of attention to prominent 2022 Class members from a wide range of disciplines.

Hailey Jurgens ’22 is an exercise program that will earn a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Michigan School of Public Heath this fall.

Her research into recovering from exercise with sour cherry juice led to several presentations at the conference, including the 2022 Southeast American College of Sports Medicine conference. It is awarded annually to rising seniors in honor of Halker, who graduated in sports medicine in 1996.

How did you choose exercise for the direction?

I have always been interested in preventive medicine. I find the physical abilities of our bodies and what we can do fascinating. I knew I wanted to graduate in exercise science and after meeting with the department over the weekend to admit students, I dedicated myself to Elon.

What was your undergraduate research experience like?

I completed a study on the effects of sour cherry juice on recovery from muscle damage caused by exercise. After seeking an opportunity for undergraduate study and meeting with the faculty in the multi-exercise department, Dr. Nepocatych and Dr. Madizma agreed to be my mentors during the fall of my sophomore year. From there, we reflected on our interests and reviewed the literature and developed a research question and study proposal. And now I’m a senior this spring semester and graduating in 20 days, I’ve finished my studies and I’m finishing my manuscript to send to peer-reviewed journals.

I gave a poster presentation at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine 2021 conference; student presentation at the Carolinas Symposium on Exercise and Kinesiological Research 2021 and 2022; an oral presentation at the Elon Spring Undergraduate Research Forum in 2021 and 2022 and an oral presentation at the Southeast ACSM in 2022.

How have relationships with your mentors affected your Elon experience and education?

I am grateful enough to have started working with Dr. Madzim and Dr. Nepocatych as my research mentors. Dr. Nepocatych is also my academic advisor and I had the pleasure of being her technician in exercise physiology for two semesters. I also work with Dr. Nepocatych as a teaching and learning assistant on the Exercise Testing and Recipe course.

Both of my mentors greatly improved my experience at Elon. Not only did they help me get to where I am today with experiences such as research, internships, connections with former Elon students, and connections within the field of exercise science, but they also supported me on a personal level. I completed my summer undergraduate research experience during the summer of 2020 and our research meetings have always been the highlight of my day. The first thing they did was report me and my family. They both continued to help me in some difficult times.

Dr. Madzima and Dr. Nepocatych taught me, most importantly, how to think and expand my thoughts to a world beyond, how to develop opinions, and how to think about challenges that may not have the answers attached.

Dr. Madzima especially taught me how to establish professional connections that are important and how to reach others within the field in an appropriate way. Dr. Nepocatych taught me how to be a better student. By setting up her TA and TLA, I learned how to learn better, apply different concepts, and explain topics in different ways. Dr. Nepocatych also helped me find my passion for public health and helped me navigate the world of dietetics.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will receive a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Michigan Graduate School of Public Heath with a dietary concentration.

While thinking about the time spent in Elon, what was most valuable to you?

The fundamental theme that unites all my achievements in Elon is the connections and relationships I have created because of my experiences. Many of these relationships have challenged me to grow and keep pushing myself into things I didn’t even know I was capable of. I am very proud of everything I have achieved here, from my undergraduate research experience, to the time of advocacy for students in our Student Administration Association, my membership in Alpha Xi Delta and my experiences abroad.

What would you advise future students of Elon?

I would recommend future students of Elon to meet their professors and establish a mentor-mentor relationship. If there’s a professor you really liked in class with, go for a cup of coffee. If there is an administrator or staff member you come in contact with who is interested in who they are and what they do, go for a cup of coffee. The relationships we have in college shape our worldviews and we are happy to be at a community like Elon that is proud of its community.

I would also recommend that you enjoy every moment as it comes. Planning and preparation is important, but don’t go into too much detail that you probably won’t even remember the final year. So enjoy it all, go to College Coffees, hang out at Lake Mary Nell, go to the tailgate and sport events and soak it all up.

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