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Jessica Bouchard on Life as a Kinesiology Major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

June 26, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–Our next Life in College Series article profiles Dublin High School Class of 2016 alum Jessica Bouchard who just finished the first year of her college journey to earn a degree in kinesiology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

FullSizeRender (6) Walk me through your decision process to choose Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Jessica Bouchard: “Cal Poly was on my list from the start, both my parents are alumni, so I had lots of encouragement to apply! Cal Poly is just the right amount of away from home, where I’d be away but not a plane ride away, unlike some of the other schools I considered. A big factor is that Cal Poly has a kinesiology major, which a lot of the UC’s and out-of-state schools I also looked at didn’t have. Cal Poly was the only school I applied to under early admission, so when I heard back in December I had three weeks to decide – and if I said no that would be it. It was hard because I wasn’t going to hear from the other schools I applied to for several months, but in the end Cal Poly was the right fit for me.” How would you describe what it’s like to be a Cal Poly student to students considering their college options?

Bouchard: “Cal Poly is very inclusive. I immediately felt the welcoming environment. To help students transition they have WOW (Week of Welcome) where you are introduced to the campus and life in San Luis Obispo. It was super helpful in getting to know other students because everything was so new. I made it a point to get involved right away rather than hide in the shadows. Cal Poly encourages you to join clubs and sports, and do whatever you can to meet people. It was an amazing way to start my Cal Poly experience, it made it feel like home.

“Everyone is at Cal Poly for the same reason, they want to get an education, meet new people, and make connections. Everyone was so friendly – I have yet to meet a negative person!”

FullSizeRender (9) Why did you choose kinesiology for your major, and what is kinesiology for students unfamiliar with the discipline?

Bouchard: “Kinesiology is the study of physical activity and human movement. I’ve always been interested in the injury side of sports: I have a picture I drew when I was little, of me as an orthopedic technician (someone who puts casts on people), and for some reason that always stuck with me. Physical activity has been a part of my life, for all nineteen years, in particular running and volleyball.

“It was in high school that I took the idea more seriously. In my junior year I joined Dublin High School’s Cross Country team and had shin splints which turned into a slight stress fracture. I went through the process of having x-rays and while I was heartbroken that I wouldn’t be able to run I was also fascinated with the process of physical recovery.

“I also took a sports medicine class in my junior year, taught by a kinesiology major, and it was really interesting seeing up close how that discipline is applied on the field. From that moment on I knew it was an area I wanted to pursue.” How did you balance athletics and academics during high school?

Bouchard: “It was a lot to manage, especially during my junior year with three honors classes and three varsity sports. My strategy was to take a step back when ever things got too tough, to put things in perspective and find a way to balance studying, practice, friends and family. I always kept a schedule book to help me stay on track.” How was the transition to college and living away from home for the first time?

Bouchard: “Being away from my family and friends was difficult at first. Homesickness isn’t something a lot of people talk about, how hard it is to transition from everything you’ve built up at home. I was so excited to have a fresh start, and at the same time that means nobody knows who you are, where you came from, or what you’ve done before. Before going to Cal Poly the longest I’d been away from my family was one week.” How did you ultimately overcome homesickness?

Bouchard: “There was a big change after my parents visited for Mustang Family Home Weekend, which was about five or six weeks into the school year. I was able to show my parents everything I was involved in and all the friends I’d made, and I realized at that moment the homesickness was gone. I was so excited to show my family how I’d grown and I was able to see I’d created a new life at Cal Poly. It was night and day after that weekend!”

FullSizeRender (8) What extracurricular activities have you been involved in so far?

Bouchard: “I played intramural volleyball and soccer this year and I’m in the distance running club and the nutrition club. I’m also a WOW leader for the fall (the freshman orientation program) and I’m so excited to meet the incoming class. I just completed ten weeks of training, three hours a week, to get ready.” How has the transition been on the academic side?

Bouchard: “The biggest difference in college is not having nightly homework; the focus is on essays, midterms and finals – that’s it. I eased into my first quarter, only taking fourteen units, then seventeen in the second and sixteen in the third quarter. Dublin High School prepared me really well for writing essays, which was great because I’ve had to write a lot of essays this year! I didn’t find the transition to be as hard as I expected it would be.” What do you recommend to other students to get the most out of the classroom experience?

Bouchard: “Definitely take advantage of office hours. At first I didn’t want to go to office hours, I wanted to prove I could do it myself and figure out the right answer without asking for help. In college, professors are more than willing to help if you ask – and you should.” One last question, if you could go back in time to high school and give yourself advice, what would it be?

Bouchard: “Enjoy the moment! You never understand how much you are going to miss something until you don’t have it anymore. I was always so caught up thinking ‘I’m so excited for college, I’m so ready for college, I’m so ready for high school to be over’ that I didn’t realize how much fun I was having! I wish I’d taken more time to appreciate everything I had right in front of me.”

One Comment
  1. June 26, 2017 11:11 am

    Great job Jessica! #CalPoly

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