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Ariana Mazza

Alumni Spotlight—Ariana Mazza Bensyl

Alumni of the College of Applied Health Sciences have myriad career options thanks to the tremendous diversity of programs. We periodically will put the spotlight on an alum to find out what they're doing now, what experiences they had and what AHS means to them. This week, we talk to Ariana Mazza Bensyl, a KCH alum who now works as a Physical Therapist in Northbrook School District 28.

Q: Why did you pick AHS?

A: Being active in sports growing up fostered my interest in exercise and how the body works. I knew going into college that I wanted to be a Physical Therapist. When I was looking into colleges, I was looking for one that provided me the opportunity to get a great education and prepare me for PT school. The College of Applied Health Sciences offered Kinesiology as a program of study, which fit my PT path. I was confident the curriculum would prepare me for getting into PT school, as well as the academic demands of PT school.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: One person that most impacted me was my academic advisor, Amy O'Neill. She encouraged me to challenge myself and work hard to attain my goals throughout my time at the University of Illinois. Amy also brought the idea of completing the Physical Education Teacher Licensure program to my attention. I completed the Pedagogy track within Kinesiology and I really enjoyed it. Dr. Amy Woods was one of my professors who saw a lot of potential in me and pushed me to be a better teacher. Another professor that had an impact on me was Mary Carlton. She had such passion and excitement for what she was teaching that it made learning exciting!

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: I really enjoyed my Injuries in Sport class. Learning about injuries, how to tape an ankle, preventative care and emergency care was cool! Especially for a kid who had her ankles taped throughout her high school sports career. I also really enjoyed Psychophysiology in Exercise & Sport.

Q: Did you enter AHS knowing your career path, or did AHS help you decide?

A: I did enter AHS knowing my career path. I knew I wanted to go to PT school, but I thought I wanted to work in the sports world of physical therapy. When I was doing my student teaching, I learned that physical therapists could also work in the school environment. This opened my eyes to a different path within physical therapy that was interesting to me and has actually taken me to my current job.

Q: Did your AHS experience lead to your current job?

A: Yes, it did lead me to my current job. My time in AHS prepared me to get into and be successful in PT school. I have received my doctorate of Physical Therapy from Northwestern University ('14) and am currently a PT in Northbrook School District 28. I have been able to combine the love of education and teaching that I learned from my time in AHS with my passion for physical therapy.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience?

A: I was part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority during my time on campus. Creating so many memories and lifelong friendships with my sorority sisters really made for many favorite on-campus experiences. Not necessarily an on-campus experience, but an experience related to my time in AHS, was meeting my husband. A colleague I met while doing my student teaching introduced me to him. He is a fellow AHS '11 graduate! We have talked about how we were probably in some of the same intro KIN classes our freshmen year but didn't know it!

Q: What does AHS mean to you?

A: The University of Illinois is such a big university and being part of AHS made it feel smaller. The professors and academic advisors in AHS really created an environment where I felt they wanted me to succeed. AHS means being part of a community that truly cares about their students.

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