ECU Pirate Profile Mary

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You have quite a family legacy at East Carolina University!

My grandmother graduated from ECU in 1948. My mother and father met here, graduated in 1978, and were married shortly after graduation. I have also had aunts to attend the university. Growing up, I remember going to ECU football games and cheering on the Pirates.

You have a lot of volunteer experience. Tell us more about that.

I started volunteer work at age 16, and I have volunteered in multiple places from the Womack Army Medical Center to Fort Bragg, to Sterling House Assisted Living in Greenville, to the Center for Health and Wellness in Clinton, to Relay for Life, March of Dimes, and the Red Cross. My grandfather was in the NC State Veterans’ Home in Fayetteville, and I was an active volunteer there. I was visiting him, and I liked all of the other patients so much that I started volunteering there, talking to the patients, and helping with activities.

I have also volunteered with the physical therapy department. We have done aquatic therapy with wounded soldiers and taught them lumbar support classes and how to maintain back strength when they are overseas. We taught classes on how to keep your knees healthy while running.

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It’s a great feeling to give back. Working with the patients and being able to visit with them and know that you are making an impact on their lives. It’s so fulfilling and a great feeling.

You are majoring in exercise physiology and will start the physical therapy program in May.

I am so excited! Physical therapy is always something I have wanted to do. When I was at the Veterans Home with my grandfather, he had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When I would go and sit with him, physical therapists would come in or I would go with him to the gym. I really became interested in physical therapy then. I used to play fast-pitch softball and had a shoulder injury. So, I did physical therapy back when I was in middle school and loved it! I looked forward to working out. Also, my dad used to be a power lifter, so I grew up going to the gym with him. I knew I wanted a job where I could be active. After seeing a physical therapist, I was really enthusiastic about the profession. I knew that was what I wanted to do and it was for me.

Tell us more about your internship. 

I am working in the Physical Therapy and Muscle Research Lab in the Allied Health Sciences Building. I work with one of the professors there. Right now we are looking at muscles and chronic pain and Alzheimer’s in mice. We are determining the effects of exercise on that.