Kern gains professional experience through fitness internship

Mon, 2012-07-16 12:15 -- univcomm
July 16, 2012

While some Anderson University students’ summer plans include returning home, other students will venture into a variety of internships destined to prepare them for meaningful careers. At a time when these students anticipate what their summer will hold, others find themselves looking back on their experiences, thankful for the knowledge gained and the connections made.

Ashley Kern is a junior double-majoring in exercise science and psychology. She is eager to help people fall in love with fitness. At the age of 13, Kern was diagnosed with a hormonal disease and found out she was insulin resistant. “Every day was a challenge where I constantly asked myself, ‘why did this happen to me?’” said Kern. Because of her condition, Kern began gaining weight and soon realized she needed to discover how to live healthier.

“I began working out with a personal trainer and started focusing on living a healthier lifestyle. I believe going through this journey helped me realize my passion for helping people overcome similar struggles,” said Kern.

This summer, Kern is interning at Live in Fitness Enterprise in Los Angeles, where she is gaining hands-on experience with the facility’s clients and working directly under professionals within her field. “I will be living with some of the clients who are there to learn better lifestyle habits. One of my jobs will be to serve as an encourager during their transformation processes, lending advice and motivation when it is needed most,” said Kern.

Taking experience from her role as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at Anderson University’s Kardatzke Wellness Center (KWC), as well as working with people in the surrounding Anderson community, Kern is excited to work with a new group of people. “I think she will do very well helping people in all aspects of health and fitness because of her previous experience with different fitness levels,” said Connie Hippensteel, wellness program director at AU.

Looking for advice, Kern turned to alumna Samantha Wilkerson, who graduated in 2010 with a degree in exercise science and a minor in business administration and also practiced her skills at the KWC.

Inspired by the opportunity to work with clients on a one-on-one basis, as well as the positive and encouraging environment, Wilkerson applied for a summer internship with Green Mountain at Fox Run, a private women’s retreat in Vermont that promotes healthy living and weight loss through behavioral change.

“I was able to work hands-on in exercise classes as well as with individual women, focusing on fitness goals and targeting the areas individual women wanted to get in shape,” said Wilkerson.

During her internship, Wilkerson was given time and guidance to think about what direction she wanted to pursue with her major. “My internship opportunity gave me the ability to work with people of different ages and backgrounds. I learned to take each person as an individual and not just lump them together in a group,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson currently works as the life enrichment director at the Lodge Assisted Living in Noblesville, Ind.

Through the watchful eyes of Hippensteel, both Kern and Wilkerson sought opportunities that will continue to have great effects on their careers. “There are always those few students who stick out and have a certain spark because of their drive and ambition. Samantha and Ashley definitely had that spark,” said Hippensteel.

Although Kern and Wilkerson are in different places in their lives, both understand the importance of living a health-filled lifestyle. While one is eagerly awaiting her summer, the other looks back on an experience that is still shaping her life today, thankful for the opportunity.

— Hannah Schumacher is a junior from Bluffton, Ohio, majoring in communication arts and writing. Schumacher is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications. Photo credit: Lauren Freitas.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.