Zachary Thorne Co-op Profile
Name: Zachary Thorne
Year of study: Third year
1. How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your degree? I knew for a long time that I would attend university when I finished high school. My plan is to finish my degree and apply to medical school. I chose to pursue my first degree at Memorial University because I had family attend the university before me, all of their experiences were positive. As well I have a lot of family in the St. John’s area so the transition of moving to the city was easier since St. John’s is like a second home for me. And finally, I wish to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador after I complete my degree, and hopefully attend medical school, so that I can give back to my province, which has provided me with so many amazing experiences over the years.
2. What drew you to your chosen degree? I was drawn to a kinesiology degree because of the approach the degree takes to learning how the human body works from various perspectives, all with a focus on the way we move. I believe the knowledge and the experiential learning I have currently received through my degree will prepare me to be confident in my abilities to apply to other schools such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic, medical, or nursing school. Understanding the different aspects of the human body is such a valuable tool when entering these programs. Once we finish our program we are experts in human movement. This is important because we can incorporate this knowledge in any future studies.
3. What organization did you previously worked with? I previously worked with the Virginia Park Community Centre.
4. What motivated you to choose that job? During my first work term I worked at a summer recreation program just outside of my hometown of Stephenville on the West Coast of Newfoundland. I was a counsellor at the Kippens Recreation program. I really enjoyed this experience and I wanted to take the skills and knowledge I learned from working at Kippens Recreation to the Virginia Park Community Centre. I’ve always enjoyed helping others. I started this at a young age, and it has been a passion of mine. Working within a community centre/recreation setting allows you to help a variety of individuals make positive changes in their lives and create fun activities and events for their leisure. It’s great knowing that as a counsellor, you make a difference in these individuals’ lives. Nothing feels better then seeing someone improve or succeed.
5. What were the responsibilities with that previous job? At the Virginia Park Community Centre my title was program assistant. This was an umbrella term for varying roles within the Virginia Park Community Centre. I was responsible for planning events and activities for various programs. I was involved with the after school program that involved physical activity, crafts, homework, reading and providing a healthy snack for the youth. I would sometimes be involved with their basketball program, where I would coach and teach children the fundamental skills and rules of the game. There were three groups: girls up to age 12, boys up to age 12 and then a teen group (both males and females). I was heavily involved with their Youth Leadership program. This program is an important asset for youth. I was involved in coming up with team building games and ideas, as well as making presentations for the youth, which highlighted the importance of teamwork and all the aspects of team building. I was sometimes involved with Teen Night. This was a program open to teens as a place to hang out, have fun and be themselves. Most nights included board games, physical activities, hanging out and talking along with other activities. I was also involved with the Parent and Tot program. This was a bit out of my element because I never really dealt with children this young before. Within the program there were infants and children up to age 5. When working with this program I was responsible for planning fun crafts, setting up the gym for play time where fundamental movements begin to be developed, and preparing a healthy snack. Within this program there were also educational opportunities. This was one of the most unique experiences because I worked with either brand new or fairly new mothers. There was one father and grandfather who also attended the program. This was new for me, but it was quite a great experience adapting to make the program fun for the young children. During this program, I was also able to share my experience with the PLE program at Memorial University, now known as the PLAY project (Physical Literacy for All Youth), which is a great resource for parents to help optimize their children’s ability to develop fundamental movement skills and become more physically active.
6. What career highlight would you like to share from your previous work place? Being able to adapt to any type of situation is a huge asset. Within a recreation setting nothing normally will go as planned. Events have to change due to weather, increase or decrease in participation, the individuals do not like the activity etc., and you have to be able to modify activities at a moments notice. I believe this is a skill that I have developed over the years and will be helpful in my future studies. As well I was dealing with individuals who varied in age, personality and background. This was great because I was able to continue to develop my interpersonal skills. All individuals have different needs, issues, and skill sets and being able to quickly identify an individual’s needs or what is critical for the program to run smoothly is important. Everyone isn’t the same therefore what works for one child or adult will not necessarily work for another.
7. What did you learn in your program of study that helped during your work term? I took a kinesiology prospective when performing my tasks during my work term. This included learning about the fundamental movement skills that children need to be exposed to; understanding the importance of proper nutrition and knowing what proper nutrition entails; and understanding ways of properly coaching youth. Also an understanding of how the human body works and operates is quite valuable, which I incorporated within the recreation setting. This included showing youth how to properly warm up, cool down, stretch and stressing importance of physical activity. I have never taken a recreation course during my time in university, so it could be seen as though I was at a disadvantage; however, I believe my previous experience and prior knowledge helped me immensely in being successful working within a recreation setting.
8. What was a typical day for you at your work place? There was no typical day in my work place. Every day I had an idea of what I would be doing, but things would always arise or certain activities and events would have to be adapted. When working with kids you never really know what may happen day to day, but the focus everyday is to make sure you provide the children with a safe and fun environment that the children will want to come to everyday. The community centre is a home away from home for some of these youth. It keeps them out of trouble and it allows them to grow. As a community centre worker we play a vital role in motivating youth to be involved in school, academics, physical activity, and the community. We become role models for the youth therefore professionalism must be used at all times.
9. What was the best piece of advice you ever received through your co-op experience? The best piece of advice that I received through my work term would be to do something that you love. This was something I truly believed before my work term; however, it was reiterated during my time of experiential learning. Doing something your passionate about will make you feel you never worked a day in your life. This will improve your quality of life and you will be happier in the long run.
10. What advice would you give a student who is unsure of what to study? I would first explain to these students not to panic. Speaking from experience I know what it can be like to be unsure which path you want to take with school. For myself, I always wanted to apply to medical school; however, I was unsure which undergraduate degree I would want to study first. I would say it is normal to be unsure and this will allow you to gain various experiences that will guide you to what you want to study. Before applying to kinesiology I took a general year of schooling and was then in the psychology faculty. Within this time, I gained knowledge in various courses and electives that I would not have experienced if I applied to Kinesiology right out of high school. This allows me to see the world through various lenses. In this time, you also have opportunities to network with others, which will help shape and guide your decision. For me this occurred when I talked to my friend who was taking kinesiology and mentioned to me about the human anatomy course within the school of HKR. After taking the course I realized that kinesiology was the degree for me. I would recommend that these students get involved by volunteering, networking, and taking courses that they are interested in. Throughout their university journey they will find themselves and find a career path they will be interested in. This may take some time however with an open mind and with different experiences everyone will find themselves and what career they wish to pursue. Enjoy the journey of discovery! I’ve based my philosophy off a quote by David M. Burns which states “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.”
11. What are you most looking forward to within the next few years? I’m looking forward to applying to medical school. I’m very excited for the opportunity that one day I will be able to help others in their time of need within a medical setting. I look forward to applying all of the skills and resources I have learned in school and within my co-op experiences. As a kinesiology student I have taken a different type of route with my work terms. My first work term included finishing up my fourth year tutoring at my previous high school in Stephenville and working at Kippens Recreation, my previous work term involved working at the Virginia Park Community Centre, which I will be returning to in the fall. I currently work at Virginia Park Community Centre during the summer as well, as the Summer Youth Leader. I believe these experiences give me a better and fuller picture of the world we live in. My hope is that I can take these experiences from my work term, and various courses I’ve taken throughout my university career to make myself the best individual I can be in helping others, which hopefully one day will be within a medical setting.