Exercise science major wins Outstanding Undergraduate of the Year Award


Clare Heisey, a senior exercise science major and recent winner of the Undergraduate Scholar of the Year. Tuesday March 1, 2016.

Alexandra Seibt

With a published citation for her work on an honors research project and a 4.0 GPA, Clare Heisey, a senior exercise science major, received the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar of the Year award from the Midwest Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“Receiving the award was a big honor and it made me especially thankful for the opportunities that I had been given at Kent State,” Heisey said. “I really hope it’ll get me a step close to my career goals, not just being an OT (occupational therapist), but being a leader within that field.”

According to its website, the Undergraduate Scholar of the Year award from the Midwest Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (MWACSM) is one of many awards presented by MWACSM that recognizes student and professional achievement throughout the region.

Heisey’s honors research project was on the effect of static stretching on squat performance in Division I female athletes. It was completed with the help of her faculty mentor, J. Derek Kingsley, and three graduate students: Yu Lun Tai, Curtis Fennell and Hayden Gerhart.

“(Working with her) was fabulous,” Kingsley said. “I helped her with the design of the study, with the statistics of the study, then I mentored her towards her writing.”

Heisey also received help from Sara Harper, a doctoral candidate in ­exercise physiology and graduate student who took Heisey “under her wing and taught her more about the research world.”’

“I had the pleasure of working with Clare in a couple of different ways within research.

It’s just nice to see other undergraduate students interested in research and involvement and be able to help and guide them along their process of developing and growing,” Harper said. “She’s (Heisey) very goal oriented, very driven, great personality (and) such a positive person. You’re around her and you can’t help but feel more motivated and feel off that energy.”

Not only did Kingsley play a major role in Heisey’s research project, but he also encouraged her to apply for the award.

“I thought she was a perfect fit because the award that we do with Midwest is based on GPA, scholarly activity and extracurricular stuff,” Kingsley said. “I think Clare is what every student hopes to be when they come to college: the 4.0, she came in as an athlete, still works a part time job, so for me, that’s like the perfect undergrad.”

Heisey presented her work on Nov. 6 at the 2015 Midwest Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“I want to emphasize though how unique it is that Kingsley would take on someone who’s an undergraduate to do a research project with,” Heisey said. “He didn’t need to teach me all of that, so he went way out of his way to not only guide me through this research project, but even to encourage me to apply for the award (and) to present in Indiana, so all of those opportunities are through him.”  

Heisey knew in ninth grade that occupational therapy was the career for her when one day she went to work with her aunt who also works as an occupational therapist.

“What attracted me most to the career, however, was that it offered a chance to spend time with my favorite population, older adults,” Heisey said in her personal statement.

Once she graduates from Kent, she will further her education and receive her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Whatever Clare decides to do with her life, I think she is going to be über successful,” Kingsley said. “There’s no way around that.”

Alexandra Seibt is the EHHS reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]