From Red Deer to Grande Prairie to Edmonton to Olomouc, Czech Republic to Cusco, Peru, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (BScKin) graduate Cassidy Stromberg has taken her deep appreciation for physical activity, sport, recreation and play around the world.
What brought you to the University of Alberta and the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation (KSR)?
I was planning on taking classes in the Faculty while training with the Sherwood Park Figure Skating Club, but a knee surgery threw a wrench into that plan and I became a full time student instead. I started studying kinesiology because of my background in sport and original goal of becoming a physiotherapist.
What has been your favourite aspect(s) of the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program?
KIN 400 (Human Gross Anatomy) was an amazing experience for me; it really deepened my appreciation for the human body and strengthened my anatomy knowledge. I also liked how once you get to third and fourth year, you have a lot of different classes to choose from with BScKin so you can make your degree your own.
What has made your experience as a KSR student unique?
I had my sights set on athlete rehabilitation and a Master of Science in Physiotherapy when I got to U of A, but KRLS 207 (Adapted Physical Activity and Leisure for Diverse Population), KIN 43 (Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Management) and volunteering with the Steadward Centre sparked a passion in me for working with different populations who are perhaps more excluded from traditional exercise settings. I think the exposure you get to so many different realms of the field is a unique opportunity. Two international exchanges also made my own experience quite exciting.
What prompted you to participate in the exchange program and spend a semester studying at Palacký University Olomouc in Olomouc, Czech Republic?
I had gone on a volunteer eco-trip to Ecuador before my second year and a lot of the people on the trip were recent grads. They all said their biggest regret from school was not doing an exchange because they didn’t plan their degrees to do it. I knew I wanted to live abroad so I met with the counsellor and went to the Study Abroad meeting to figure out what I needed to do to make it happen. I honestly picked Olomouc because it was more affordable and its location in central Europe made it really easy to travel. However, there really is such a laid back vibe to the city and it’s so easy to make friends with people from all over the world. So, in hindsight those are the reasons I would pick it again.
How did that experience influence you as a student and person?
That experience made me a lot more open-minded about what I wanted out of life in general. It made me question the ‘hustle’ of North American life and taught me that there are a lot of values we could learn to appreciate more, systemically and individually, from other cultures. Hearing so many different perspectives also inspired me to be more politically engaged.
You spent the 2019 summer in Cusco, Peru with the Play Around the World program. Can you give us a brief description about your experiences with the youth of Cusco and examples of some of the things you did?
Spending the spring and summer with the kids in Cusco as part of Play Around the World was an unforgettable experience. I formed so many great connections with the kids we were working with and learned so much from their ability to find joy in everything. For some schools, we ran phys-ed classes and for other organizations, we played games and facilitated free play. My favourite activities were the impromptu soccer games or anything the kids came up with themselves.
In your opinion, why is free play important for children and youth?
I think free play is one of the only opportunities in a child’s life to be in charge of themselves. It is amazing how kids can develop physical literacy, self-confidence and self-knowing by simply following their own intuition. It is super important to give kids the opportunity to assert their own independence and creativity. I think we all could use a little more ‘free play.’
What is your career plan following convocation?
For right now, I hope to get my Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Certified Exercise Physiologist accreditation and try to get into a clinical line of work. My plan seems to change more times than my address—which is a lot—but I know I would like to pursue a health related Master’s someday.
Do you have anything to add?
“The tassel is worth the hassle!”