Amazing Students Profiles

Rebecca Parker

Rebecca Parker

Rebecca Parker came to UGA for two reasons: the kinesiology department and the CURO program. While here, she has combined her experiences in the two into a very successful undergraduate career. She and a fellow student even created a compression device to modulate a pseudo-exercise experience and have used it to explore the possibilities of compression therapy for people with chronic conditions. She has presented at several conferences and spent the summer working on the project at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. When she’s not in the vascular biology lab, Rebecca volunteers with Open Arms ministry, works with Reacting the Past and enjoys long runs across campus. After graduation, she plans to pursue a degree in medicine and to work in an academic medical community.


Alpharetta, Ga.

High School:

Chattahoochee High School

Degree objective:

B.S.Ed. in exercise and sports science

Expected graduation:

Spring 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I have taken advantage of the CURO program that is offered through the Honors Program. During my sophomore year, I started to work in the vascular biology lab with Dr. Kevin McCully. I have worked with another undergraduate student, Melissa Erickson, to explore compression therapy as a potential exercise alternative for individuals who have chronic conditions, such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, that make voluntary exercise difficult. In the summer of 2009, we assembled a compression device to modulate a pseudo-exercise experience. The majority of my junior year was spent testing this device on able-bodied individuals. We presented our research findings at two conferences: the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine,  in Greenville, South Carolina, and the CURO Symposium at UGA. I was awarded a CURO Summer Fellowship and was able to continue this project over the summer at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. This allowed me to work with the target population for this study. During my senior year, I hope to compile my findings into an undergraduate thesis. I also really enjoy working with people who have chronic conditions and disabilities. I serve as co-director for Open Arms Leadership at the Wesley Foundation. Open Arms is a student-run ministry for children and adults with disabilities. Members of Open Arms are very diverse, but their loyal attendance and enthusiasm proves that everyone attends for the same purpose—love and acceptance.

Current Employment:

I work as a preceptor for the Reacting to the Past program, which is run through the classics department. Reacting to the Past is a program that originated out of Bernard College, the sister school of Columbia. It encourages students to take an active part in history by participating in role-playing games. I work with the professors to help them integrate these games into their curriculum. During the games, I give the students tips and strategies so that they can accomplish their victory objectives. I really enjoy reacting because it serves as an exciting change of pace from traditional lectures.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the Honors program and the kinesiology department. The Honors program offers many of the benefits of a smaller school, such as mentors, research and seminars. During high school, I interned at a physical therapy office, and many of therapists attended UGA and used the kinesiology department as an educational foundation for graduate school. I was attracted to the exercise and sports science major because it offers a foundation for so many careers in healthcare. It has given me the opportunity to work with people who have a variety of aspirations, ranging from athletic trainers to physician’s assistants.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…taking walks, going to the Ramsey Center, and attending sporting events. One of my favorite things about attending UGA is enjoying the college-town atmosphere of Athens. I love seeing people from all over the community come together on weekends to support all of the sports, including baseball, gymnastics, soccer, tennis and, of course, football.

When I have free time, I like…

…to run through campus. There are so many beautiful spots around campus that I don’t always have the time to appreciate during class change. I love to go on long runs during the weekends because it serves as an escape from studying. It allows me to enjoy some scenic areas such as the North Campus fountains and Lake Herrick trails. It’s also really exciting to go running on Saturdays in the fall. I love waking up early to see the campus tailgates come to life for game day.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…pole vault. After years of competitive gymnastics, I looked for another thrill seeking sport. Little did I know that vaulting would be much more challenging than gymnastics. During my senior year, I qualified for state meet, and I broke our school record at state. The rush of adrenaline that you receive from catapulting ten or eleven feet in the air is unbeatable.

My favorite place to study is…

…the lounge in the lobby of East Village Commons because of its convenience.  The Ramsey Center is just a few steps away so it is very easy for me to get to class or take a workout break. On sunny days, I enjoy studying outside on the adjacent lawn. I like to work in a relaxed atmosphere because it makes me feel less stressed.

My favorite professor is…

…hard to choose because there are so many classes that I have enjoyed during my time at UGA. I have had the privilege of working with Dr. McCully in the vascular biology lab for two years. During this time, I have learned so much from him because he challenges me to learn something from every lecture, conference and experiment. I really appreciate how he takes time to work with students at all educational levels, ranging from high school to Ph.D. candidates. The lab becomes an environment where I have the opportunity to teach and learn; it has shaped my desire to work in an academic medical environment. I also enjoyed my Honors freshman English class with Dr. Elizabeth Kraft.  She introduced our class to a Reacting to the Past game, which involved the trial of Anne Hutchinson. This helped to facilitate some lively discussions for the rest of the semester

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…the Apostle Paul. I admire his ability to write and minister to a large variety of civilizations. His letters in the New Testament still influence people 2,000 years after they were originally written. I find it amazing that Paul remains so optimistic, selfless and even thankful in the face of adversity, while spending the majority of his lifetime in prison.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…open a comprehensive medical center to treat, raise awareness, and find a cure for several chronic conditions. Society often leads people to feel sorry for people with special needs, but I respect anyone who experiences challenges on a daily basis. During the past few years, I have met people with special needs that have an unparalleled passion for life. They deserve to share this passion and talents with the world because their genuine joy is contagious.

After graduation, I plan to…

…pursue a degree in medicine. After finishing medical school, I hope to work in an academic medical community. It seems like the perfect environment to get the best of everything that medicine has to offer. For my own benefit, I can continue to learn from well- distinguished physicians and Ph.D.s. Furthermore, I can give back to society by helping patients and educating aspiring students.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…the UGA football game against Florida in 2007. This was the first Georgia-Florida game that I attended, and we won 42-30. The team’s energy was contagious from the moment that the game started so their spirit quickly spread to the crowd. I received tickets to the game for my birthday, and it was the perfect way to set the tone for the rest of an unforgettable football season.