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HKR student awarded a five-figure leg up

By Michelle Osmond

When School of Human Kinetics (HKR) alumna Natasha Fleet discovered she'd won a scholarship to follow her dream, she was a little more than shocked.

Ms. Fleet, a recent graduate of Memorial's kinesiology (co-op) program, recently discovered she was awarded $15,000 through the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program to do a master's degree specializing in paediatric physiotherapy at Queens University. She was one of 13,000 applicants.

"I had to read (the website) two or three times to even process that I had just received $15,000 towards my education. I sat at my computer desk, in my room, by myself and just started to cry I was so happy. When my family came in thinking something was wrong, all I could do was point at the computer screen for them to read."

Ms. Fleet, who graduated in April, was one of 2,000 individuals to receive a scholarship through the program.

She says she has always wanted a career in health care. In fact, up until she was 16-years-old, she was determined to become a physician. Upon participating in MedQuest, a summer program hosted by Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine, and subsequently visiting the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre in St. John's, she saw first-hand what physiotherapists do. With that, she discovered her future career.

"I cannot say that it was one particular aspect of physiotherapy that initially caught my interest," she said. "At that time it was more of the entire composition of what makes a physiotherapist: the direct client interaction; the ability to analyze a situation from many view points and decide upon the correct treatment plan; using evidence-based practices surrounding human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychology; and, perhaps most important to me, the ability to truly make a positive difference to someone's quality of life."

Ms. Fleet's undergraduate choice at Memorial proved to be ideal as a basis for physiotherapy. She says it gave her unparalleled opportunities to learn about the human body in terms of anatomy, physiology, psychology and biomechanics. As well, she was able to participate in an honours research group designing and completing original research. Additionally, the undergraduate degree program allowed her to experience the practical application of classroom instruction in real world settings through two work terms.