On May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We reached out to a few of our students who are graduating from programs in the School of Education to learn about their favorite UW–Madison memories and future plans. Following is a Q&A with Mayrena Hernandez, an Education Graduate Research Scholar (Ed-GRS) who is graduating with a PhD in kinesiology.
Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?
I am from Arlington, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The research of Dr. David Bell in the Wisconsin Injury in Sport Lab (WISL) is what brought me to UW–Madison.
Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies?
My background is in athletic training and before I came to UW–Madison I earned a degree in public health at Kansas State University. Following my undergraduate degree, I chose to pursue a master’s in public health and a PhD in kinesiology because I feel that athletic trainers can play a larger role in disease and injury prevention. As professional health care providers, we need to advocate so we have a place at the table when decisions are made, especially regarding musculoskeletal injuries, sport nutrition, concussions, heat illness, and youth sport recommendations.
Tell us about your research.
My research focuses on qualitative and quantitative studies that examine how low socioeconomic status and/or minority race/ethnicity youth athlete families are impacted by the negative consequences of sport specialization. Additionally, I am interested in how athletic trainers’ clinical decisions may be influenced by a youth athlete’s socioeconomic status.
What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?
My positive lab experience in the WISL has been most meaningful. My colleagues’ camaraderie, friendship, and love for research and education have greatly enhanced my PhD experience.
"I feel that athletic trainers can play a larger role in disease and injury prevention. As professional health care providers, we need to advocate so we have a place at the table when decisions are made."
What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?
Dr. David Bell has had the greatest impact on me. He was able to set me up with the essential skills to be a great researcher.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
Find friendships and your community in various departments and organizations. Experiences outside of the classroom and lab will be a crucial part of your education.
This summer, I will be starting a position as a tenure track assistant professor in athletic training at Sam Houston State University (in Huntsville, Texas). Go Bearkats!
What will you miss most about UW?
I will miss the coffee at MOKA and Grace Coffee Co. Also, all of the paths for biking and running — my favorite is at the UW Arboretum.