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Arnold School of Public Health

May graduate studies exercise science to prepare for career in medicine

April 13, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

An aspiring physician, Ana Jukic wanted a major that allowed her to learn about the human body, especially while engaged in physical activity.

“I felt that the exercise science major was the best fit for my career goals while also including classes and electives that were extremely interesting,” says Jukic, who chose UofSC because the campus made her feel like she was home. “When I left the tour, I knew that South Carolina was the place for me and that they helped their students succeed, regardless of their major or career choices.”

Being selected to receive the Academic Scholar – Superlative Award (totaling more than $86,900) sealed the deal for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-turned-Savannah, Georgia native. Jukic’s acceptance into the Capstone Scholars program was the icing on the cake.

After arriving on campus, she continued to immerse herself in the Gamecock experience. Jukic held leadership positions in the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity and UofSC Dance Marathon, served as a U101 Peer Leader and joined the Exercise Science Club.

She found a mentor in clinical associate professor Jim Mensch, who taught Jukic’s only in-person class (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) in the fall of 2020: Introduction to Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. They quickly connected over their love of Pennsylvania sports, and their interactions led Jukic to consider a career in sports medicine.

During her program, the Outstanding Exercise Science Student Award winner also developed an interest in the relationship between social media and body image perceptions for women. “We consume so much media on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. that it can begin to alter our perception of ourselves and whether we’re 'pretty enough’,” she says.

Off campus, Jukic volunteered in various departments at Prisma Health Baptist Hospital. During summer breaks, she served as a lab and later a medical assistant at the Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center to gain practical experience. She has also spent three years working as an independent contractor for Advanced Digital Anatomical Pathology Technologies and is currently completing her practicum with Apex Athletic Performance in Lexington – an experience that has solidified her decision to focus on sports medicine. 

“Ask for help, even when you don’t think you need it,” Jukic advises current and future students. “I always thought I could handle or figure it out myself, but I slowly learned that if I took time to ask my professors for help, they would be able to put a name to a face and it would also show professors that I care about the class. You never know if that professor will be a future letter of recommendation.”

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