Arizona Shreck has known since the eighth grade when she completed a career aptitude test that she wanted to pursue a career in athletic training: “It felt right to me, so I started shadowing my high school athletic trainer,” she said.
Shreck will graduate with her baccalaureate degree in kinesiology with the exercise science option as the Penn State Berks student marshal, the student with the highest grade-point average, during the college’s commencement ceremony on Dec. 16.
The Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, native explained that when she was exploring colleges, she researched kinesiology programs, and Penn State’s program had the highest ratings. Then she found that the Penn State Berks kinesiology degree has an exercise science option. After taking a tour, she was impressed by the beautiful campus and the small class sizes, as well as the great experience she had with the Lion Ambassador tour guide. Her decision to enroll was made.
“I felt like I was coming into a big community,” Shreck stated. In fact, she said, that feeling of community inspired her graduation speech, which is titled “Building a Community Wherever You Go.”
Shreck has had a great deal of success both inside and outside the classroom at Penn State Berks. She is completing her degree in just three-and-a-half semesters and with the highest student grade-point average.
As a first-year student, Shreck discussed her career aspirations with Praveen Veerabhadrappa, associate professor of kinesiology, and they began conducting research together. Then, she applied for and was awarded the Penn State Student Engagement Remote Innovation Grant in support of the research project titled “Helping Others Through Understanding Heart Rate Variability (HRV).” In the study, HRV was measured using the Oura Ring, a ring that combines advanced sensor technology with a mobile app to deliver precise, personalized health insights from the body.
The research partnership between Shreck and Veerabhadrappa continued throughout her time at Berks. Shreck was part of a student research group that worked in the Penn State Berks Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology Lab studying the cardio-metabolic effects of sedentary behavior using wearable technology, such as digital watches or monitors, to track activity and sleep among students at Penn State Berks. They also worked on another research project titled “Assessing the Effects of CrossFit Training on Cardiovascular Function.” During the study, they observed cardiovascular function in athletes of varying levels and completed statistical analysis on physiological and sports performance metrics.
“It has been great working with Dr. Veerabhadrappa,” stated Shreck. “He introduced me to recovery in sports performance, and that’s what I’m most interested in.”
Shreck also completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) with Purdue University’s School of Industrial Engineering in 2022. The project was titled “Physiological Impacts of Emergency Room Care.” This study used HRV and pupil dilation to identify points of heightened cognitive workload for experienced nurses during clinical simulation.
Currently, Shreck is completing an internship with Alvernia University’s Sports Medicine Clinic, where she is shadowing an athletic trainer.
Shreck’s efforts have been recognized with several Penn State awards, including the Evan Pugh Scholar Award, the Outstanding Achievement in Kinesiology program award, the Provost’s Award, the Berks Chancellor’s Scholarship, and the Berks Campus Alumni Society Endowed Scholarship. She also received the Marguerite Carl Smith Foundation Scholarship from Jersey Shore Area Senior High School.
Still, it wasn’t all academics for Shreck. She played for the college’s NCAA Division III softball team for the past three seasons. The team was named United East Conference Champions for the last two consecutive years, and Shreck was named Player of the Year in 2022 and 2023.
She also served as an orientation leader for Welcome Weekend, a Lion Ambassador tour guide, and an executive member of Berks Benefitting THON, a student organization that works collaboratively with THON at Penn State University Park to raise funds and spread awareness of pediatric cancer.
When she’s not on campus, Shreck holds a part-time job working at Wyomissing Fitness and Training as a trainer and customer service professional.
Graduation won’t be the end of Schreck’s studies. She has been accepted into Penn State’s master of athletic training program at University Park. She said she hopes to become an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic trainer and to complete a clinical rotation with Penn State’s varsity sports team during her time in the program.
“College athletes are so passionate about what they do. They aren’t driven by financial success,” explained Shreck about why she chose this career path.
Ultimately, Shreck said she is most passionate about studying how to use recovery data to program and plan student-athlete workouts to optimize sports performance.
When asked how the college has prepared her for the future, Shreck commented, “Penn State Berks gave me a beautiful opportunity to build a community that I can come back to. I also learned a lot about building community.”
She went on to explain that during her first year, she reached out to the Lion Ambassador, who gave her a campus tour. They encouraged her to get involved as a Lion Ambassador, which led to her becoming an Orientation Leader and member of Berks Benefitting THON. Then, she became involved in conducting research, and her professors helped her make connections when applying to graduate schools.
She concluded by stating, “I just want to say ‘thanks’ to all the students, faculty, and staff that I met at Penn State Berks. I have so much gratitude for the campus and where it’s led me.”