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Arnold School of Public Health

  • 2024 Awards

2024 Student Awards

The Department of Exercise Science has selected seven students from among those nominated by faculty members, to receive the 2024 Outstanding Exercise Science Student Awards. This year’s winners were chosen for their academic achievements, community service and leadership roles.

Award About 
Outstanding Exercise Science Undergraduate Student: Monica Ryan  An Exercise Science student and an Honor’s College student with a 3.97 GPA, Monica Ryan made the most of her time at South Carolina. During her time here she was involved in many activities, including working at USC’s COVID-19 spit testing sites, interning with Gamecock Performance Nutrition, and working as a personal trainer at Campus Recreation. She was also part of the USC Exercise Science Quiz Bowl winning team 2 years in a row and competed on behalf of the department at the SEACSM Student Bowl in both of those years. Monica also took on leadership positions in the Arnold School. She is the outgoing president for the Exercise Science Club, and she has served as Treasurer for the Exercise Science Club and for AED Health-care Pre-Professional Honors Society. She worked in two different Exercise Science Research Labs including the Women’s Vascular Health Lab and the Sport Science Lab. In February of this year, she presented a poster at SEACSM 2024 based on her honors thesis.
Exercise Science Outstanding MS in Athletic Training Student: Austin Coates 

Austin Coates is a 2nd year Masters in AT student graduating this May who currently has 4 job offers to stay in SC as an athletic trainer. He completed his clinical immersion this spring at Wando HS in Charleston. He serves on the executive board as Vice President for the South Carolina Athletic Training Students’ Association (SCATSA) and was a student member on the South Carolina Athletic Trainers Association (SCATA) Governmental affairs committee. This committee was instrumental in moving athletic training to Licensure this past fall. He was selected as the student rep for NATA Legislative Boot camp 2.0 and as the student rep for NATA Third Party Reimbursement Boot camp. Finally, he worked as an Athletic Training Student at the 2023 Manning Passing Academy.

Exercise Science Outstanding Post-Professional MS in Athletic Training Student: Ashritha Kota Ashritha “Ash” Kota completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin, and graduated from our Athletic Training Post-Professional program this Spring. She has taken every initiative to exceed the program’s mission goals. Ash has volunteered to be a teaching assistant and assisted with the athletic training practice labs, evaluation course labs (lower extremity and head, neck and spine) and has mentored the Professional AT students. She provided athletic training services to Fairfield Central High School as their Head Athletic Trainer in Year one and was recently assigned to USC Football, and she has done a wonderful job at both clinical sites.  Additionally, her research project has been accepted for presentation at the 2024 ACSM conference in Boston. She is currently applying for jobs, and she wants to pursue a career working at the University level with football.
Exercise Science Outstanding MS Student: Stephanie Caldero 

Stephanie Caldero is very interested in understanding motor skill performance and motor skill learning in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This interest is heavily tied to her work at the Brain Balance Achievement Center where she interacted with children with a variety of clinical diagnoses. While collaborating with her Project Mentor, Stephanie conducted a scoping review of motor skill learning in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Stephanie is mature, professional, and sought to complete the steps of the project with the attention to detail required for such work. As a master’s student, Stephanie has shown herself to be intelligent, hardworking, and professional. Stephanie is a very strong student who has demonstrated a real interest in improving the lives of children living with autism spectrum disorder. 

Exercise Science Outstanding MPH Student: Jenna Dzwierzynski Jenna Dzwierzynski began the MPH program in August 2022 and immediately demonstrated academic and professional excellence in her first semester.  Jenna has made important contributions as a Research Assistant for the ECHO lab and the Prevention Research Center while in the MPH program.  Jenna is a dedicated student and is passionate about promoting physical activity and increasing active opportunities in communities. Jenna understands the public health problem of physical inactivity and the need to make physical activity accessible for all individuals.  She is an outstanding student in class, asks critical questions, and clearly enjoys learning.  For her practice experience this summer, she will work with Palmetto Conservation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide active recreation on the Palmetto Trail and other trail systems in South Carolina.  Jenna is passionate about increasing physical activity outdoors, and this practice experience is perfect for her. Jenna has tremendous potential for a successful career as a public health professional.
Exercise Science Outstanding DPT Student: Sean Edmonds  Sean Edmonds received his BS in athletic training from Duquesne University and his M.Ed in Exercise Science from Cleveland State University. Sean decided to continue his education and pursue a career in physical therapy. Throughout his time at USC, Sean has held multiple graduate assistant roles through the Department of Exercise Science and Campus Recreation. He also had a sports performance internship with Gamecock Football. After graduation, Sean plans on pursuing a position in either sports medicine or acute care back in his home state of Ohio.
Exercise Science Outstanding PhD Student: Alexa Chandler  Alexa Chandler has 16 publications, 2 of which already have over 30 citations. She also has 3 publications in review and an additional 8 in preparation with data collection completed. She has over 60 published abstracts to her credit. She also has 5 invited presentations, with one of these at a national conference. She has been instrumental in writing, preparation, and execution of approximately $3M in awarded grants. She recently secured her first industry-funded grant as PI. Alexa is the recipient of 3 scholarships from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2 presentation awards at national conferences, and the 2021 AKA Doctoral Writing Award. She has had primary responsibility for our EXSC 757 Clinical Exercise Testing course and spearheaded the effort to transition this course to a hybrid-format during the Fall 2020 semester. The students consistently give her strong and positive evaluations. In addition, Alexa has assisted in mentoring several MS and undergraduate theses/projects, as well as new members of the Sports Science lab. She is one of our two student representatives for our ACSM Exercise is Medicine – On Campus program, has served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, was an abstract judge for Discover USC Day, regularly reviews manuscripts for journals, and served in a sport science capacity for multiple teams at USC, including the national champion WBB team. Following graduation, she will continue developing her skills as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Idaho with a well-recognized and established researcher in women’s health and performance. 



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