April 29, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Growing up with two special needs brothers, Casey Hasenbein was keenly aware of populations that were “differently abled” and felt inspired to pursue a career based on helping people. Then, during her junior year of high school, she broke her wrist in a snowboarding accident—landing herself in three months of occupational therapy.
“My experience in occupational therapy opened my eyes to how therapists can change patients’ lives and give them a second chance, and it helped me narrow my passions on a career in therapy,” Hasenbein says.
The New Jersey native chose UofSC because of its exercise science program, particularly the fact that it is housed in the Arnold School of Public Health. Her acceptance into the best ranked public honors college in the country and being awarded a McKissick Scholarship helped finalize her decision.
Carolina offered a diverse community that I could see myself acclimating to and had everything I was looking for academically as well. USC was truly the perfect fit for me.
-Casey Hasenbein, May exercise science graduate
“Being from the north I was ready to escape the cold and wanted to experience attending a big southern school with lots of sports and spirit,” Hasenbein says. “Carolina offered a diverse community that I could see myself acclimating to and had everything I was looking for academically as well. USC was truly the perfect fit for me.”
Once she was immersed in the Arnold School, her career goals shifted a bit. As a sophomore, Hasenbein’s interest in physical therapy began while taking a class in pediatric motor development that was taught by a pediatric physical therapist.
That same year, she experienced the patient side of physical therapy while recovering from a hip injury. With her curiosity peaked, she spent the entire summer after her junior year shadowing many different types of physical therapists—solidifying her decision to apply to physical therapy school.
Meanwhile, Hasenbein continued excelling in both her major and her minor (health promotion, education, and behavior) academic courses—earning a spot on the Dean’s and Presidents lists eight times. In 2017, she took advantage of clinical instructor and undergraduate director Barbara Cuevas’ study abroad course where the class compared public health and exercise science professions both in Ireland and South Carolina.
“Barb Cuevas has been a great mentor to me over the years,” says Hasenbein. “My experience abroad and my love for the pediatric physical therapy class helped me decide to apply to physical therapy school.”
During her final year at Carolina, Hasenbein worked with fellow exercise science student Rachel Wood on an honors senior thesis project where they created an exercise and self-defense program to promote empowerment, self-esteem and self-worth for girls ages 13-18 at Epworth Children’s Home.
Cuevas directed the thesis and associate dean for undergraduate student affairs Sara Corwin also served as a mentor. “Dr. Corwin has been helping us with the statistical analysis of our data and is now our second reader on the project,” Hasenbein says. “Both of them have been so encouraging and supportive and have helped us develop our skill sets in the realm of program planning and data analysis, which will benefit us a lot as we enter graduate school.”
Planning when you want to take certain classes and determining what classes you need to add into your schedule for graduate programs is key to completing everything on time and using the opportunities that exercise science offers to your advantage.
-Casey Hasenbein, May exercise science graduate
Both Hasenbein and Wood will attend physical therapy school this fall. Hasenbein will join The Ohio State University and has been awarded a fellowship that covers her first year of tuition/fees and provides a $26,000 stipend. She’s not sure which area of physical therapy she will ultimately pursue, but she hopes to work with a diverse population that keeps her on her toes.
“So far I’ve really enjoyed orthopedics and pediatrics, and I am very interested to get experience in neurorehabilitation and brain trauma/spinal cord injuries,” says Hasenbein. “My experience with special needs kids also makes me very interested in pediatrics because special needs kids have such a special place in my heart. However, I am going into school with an open mind and will see where my studies and clinical experiences lead me.”
As she wraps up her final days at UofSC, Hasenbein has nothing but love for her alma mater and her program of study. “I would strongly recommend exercise science as a major to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the health care field; I think the major prepares people exceptionally well for medical school, physical and occupational therapy school, physician’s assistant school, and many other health professions,” says Hasenbein, noting that planning and preparation (e.g., completing a practicum early so it can be included on applications) can facilitate graduate school acceptance. “Planning when you want to take certain classes and determining what classes you need to add into your schedule for graduate programs is key to completing everything on time and using the opportunities that exercise science offers to your advantage.”