Kayla D. O’Connell ’19, ’20 chose Shenandoah because of the 3+2 Early Assurance Pathway into the Master Of Science in Athletic Training program. She also wanted to be able to be a member of the softball team while studying, and Shenandoah allowed her to do both.
O’Connell has many fond memories of her time at Shenandoah, but a few that really stick out to her include hanging out in Racey Hall, being with her teammates on the field and practicing, playing bingo in the Hornet Grill, and Athletic Training Bootcamp in the Health & Life Sciences Building and Aikens Athletics Center. “The community around me in all of these memories is what makes it all so special,” said O’Connell. “Shenandoah is my home away from home.”
O’Connell is a resident athletic trainer for University of Florida Health in Gainesville, Florida. In this position, she provides health care services to student-athletes at a high school in the area. O’Connell works with them daily to prevent, evaluate, treat and rehabilitate injuries. Prior to her current position, she was an athletic trainer for Catoctin High School in Thurmont, Maryland.
The most rewarding part of O’Connell’s career is creating relationships with her student-athletes. This helps her know how they will respond to an injury and aids her on how to best treat them. She keeps an open and welcoming facility to create a positive space for the students.
O’Connell’s Shenandoah education prepared her for her career, by giving her the confidence to operate in any athletic training facility and make decisions that focus on the best interest of each individual student-athlete. Her professors and preceptors taught her how to be personable, empathetic and caring. “The professors in both the exercise science program and the athletic training program did everything they could to help us succeed in the classroom and out,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell’s advice to students is: “Take initiative, work hard, and be kind to everyone you cross paths with, whether it is your classmates and peers, professors, preceptors, or athletes. You are constantly making impressions that could open doors to your dream job without you even knowing it. Form the relationships to know your athletes because it will make your job enjoyable, even on the hard days when everything else is testing you.”