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Three graduating seniors receive 2019 Outstanding Exercise Science Awards

May 13, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, 

The Department of Exercise Science has selected three graduating seniors, from among those nominated by faculty members, to receive the 2019 Outstanding Exercise Science Student Awards. This year’s winners, chosen for their academic achievements, community service and leadership roles, are Emanuel Ayala, William Cosby and Makenzie Myers.

Emanuel Ayala

Half-Salvadoran and half-Polish in heritage, Emanuel Ayala was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina. In addition to majoring in exercise science, he also picked up a minor in chemistry and claimed a spot on the Dean’s and President’s list multiple semesters. 

“I had always been fascinated by the complexities of the human body, specifically pertaining to the physiological effects that are associated with sports,” says the Magellan Scholar, who gained experience as an undergraduate research assistant in the Arnold School’s Foundations of Lipids and Exercise (FLEX) Laboratory and as an intern at a sports medicine clinic. “Choosing exercise science seemed like it would fit me best because it was the perfect combination of sports and human anatomy with physiology.”

After graduating, Ayala plans to travel to different parts of the world to explore how physical activity, nutrition and therapeutic practices are integrated into different cultures. He intends to learn as much as possible from this experience so that he can use this information to establish preventative health programs throughout the United States and the world. “The sky is the limit,” he says.

William Cosby

Although born into a military family in Hilton Head, South Carolina, William Cosby spent most of his life in one place: Fairfax, Virginia. He became interested in athletic training (which became a part of the exercise science department in 2016) when he met the program director on admitted students day.

“Dr. Searson—and later our current director Dr. Mensch—really convinced me that athletic training was the place where I could really develop clinical skills while in college and build my foundation to be a practicing professional,” says Cosby, who gained varied experiences through his program with USC football, baseball and music as well as three local high schools. He spent last summer as a Rehabworks Intern at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, providing clinical and therapeutic care to employees at the Kennedy Space Center.

Next, the Capstone Scholar Fellow and President’s/Dean’s list recipient will join the Jackson Clinics in the Washington, D.C. area, where he will work alongside physical therapists and other athletic trainers. Long term, Cosby hopes to obtain a fellowship position or go to graduate school to work toward his dream job of securing a full-time position at NASA. 

Makenzie Myers

Originally from Carrollton, Virginia, Makenzie Myers began her tenure at UofSC as a biomedical engineering major—planning to pursue a career in physical therapy or medicine. After several friends recommended exercise science, she made the transition.

“I am so glad I switched majors and love that it has given me the freedom to take other classes that fit into my neuroscience minor and research interests as well,” the Cooper Scholars Award winner says. During her tenure at Carolina, Myers won a Magellan Scholarship and conducted research in the Arnold School’s Motor Behavior and Neuroimaging Laboratory. She also interned at the Sigurd Center for Ortho and Neuro Rehabilitation. In addition, Myers volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and Carolina Health Outreach as well as Western Tidewater Free Clinic Medical Assistance and Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.

The President’s and Dean’s list honoree will head to medical school this fall (she is still deciding which school she will choose) on her path to becoming a neurologist. After graduating from medical school, Myers will serve as a physician with the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program.

Photo: Clinical Assistant Professor Justin Goins, Professional Athletic Training Program Clinical Education Coordinator Amy Hand, Emanuel “Manny” Ayala (Exercise Science), Mackenzie Myers (Exercise Science), William Cosby (Athletic Training), Undergraduate Director Ray Thompson, Graduate Director Dr. Mark Sarzinski, Mr. Jonathan Ruiz-Ramie)

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