College experience blends educational and life opportunities for SEP student

Danielle Funk portraitLike many students entering college, Danielle Funk was not sure what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She didn't switch into the CPASS sport and exercise psychology program until the spring semester of her sophomore year.

“I can honestly say it was the best academic decision I made while at WVU. CPASS has different opportunities available and provides its students with skills that are applicable in a variety of future careers. While I am passionate about and want to stay with SEP, I know fellow CPASS students who want to use their CPASS undergraduate degree to pursue nursing, business administration, education and physical therapy. 

“The CPASS experience is filled with great educational and life opportunities, including study abroad excursions. Having professors and faculty who are eager to help you achieve all of your goals is a luxury I would never trade,” Funk explained.

For all of the assignments and hours studying, Funk says she is thankful to be part of a college that is focused on preparing students with an eye on the future, whether it be for graduate school or employment. “I was able to practice using biofeedback, practice sport and exercise psychology sessions with pseudo-clients (fellow students), create manuals on sport psychology skills and get more exposed to the sport and exercise psychology world than students in other universities,” she added.  

Funk says that CPASS has given her multiple opportunities to try new things and pursue her passions. Aside from learning valuable sport and exercise psychology skills that will help her in the future, Funk has worked with the media program, participated in data entry for a research study, completed HIPAA certifications, traversed Research Mountain and worked as a research assistant on a current project. 

The range of research experiences have allowed Funk to prepare for a future in concussion and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) studies. “Currently, I am assisting on a WVU SEP doctoral student's study about concussions. This has helped me to follow one of my main passions. The CPASS media program and SEP club have helped me to stay involved with the college and university while exploring other options available to CPASS students,” Funk said.

Funk hopes to work with veteran rehabilitation and conduct research on concussions and TBIs. “I want to help veterans reintegrate into society and recover from concussions, TBIs and post-traumatic stress disorder. On the research aspect, I want to learn ways to reduce the occurrence of concussions and TBIs as well as find ways to reduce their impact on individuals' lives,” Funk explained.

According to Funk, CPASS students are lucky because CPASS faculty members are extremely involved and dedicated in helping students receive the best education and opportunities to succeed. “Dr. Zizzi was the first CPASS faculty member I ever heard speak during my first SEP class. He kept talking about outlining our future, having goals and Research Mountain. As a student who switched majors to join SEP, it was encouraging to see how passionate Dr. Zizzi was about his job and the SEP community. 

“Dr. Voelker helped me work through plans for my future such as graduate school and jobs. Dr. Clement encouraged me to follow my passions and helped me find opportunities that would highlight my accomplishments. I purposely would rearrange my schedule to take courses taught by Megan Byrd, the head researcher whom I am assisting currently. Like other CPASS faculty, she expected greatness from her students and would encourage them to work diligently to achieve their goals,” Funk added.

Funk believes that her professors took extra care in assuring that they helped each student and provided individualized attention for specific concerns. “I would definitely not be where I am today without Drs. Zizzi, Voelker, Clement, or Megan Byrd,” she concluded.

Following graduation, Funk plans to continue working at the West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care and West Virginia Center for Health Ethics and Law and continue her role as a commuter assistant. She is applying to graduate school and hopes to earn her Ph.D. in sport psychology.

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