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PhD student Jill Pawlowski honored for her commitment to adapted physical activity


Jill with Professor Michelle Grenier from the University of New Hampshire and CPHHS Professor J.K. Yun at a recognition ceremony on April 7. Photo courtesy of Willie Leung.

Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America recently recognized adapted physical activity PhD student Jill Pawlowski for her outstanding dedication and research contributions to the field. Jill attended the awards ceremony with CPHHS Professor J.K. Yun on April 7 in Minneapolis to accept her outstanding student recognition award. J.K. and Assistant Professor Megan MacDonald nominated her for the award.

“I was surprised when I got notification that I received the award. Since I was unaware that I had been nominated, when I found out that Dr. Yun and Dr. MacDonald had written letters of support for the nomination, it was very humbling. I appreciate their support immensely,” she says.

“This research is in an effort to support teachers in shaping students that have the knowledge and motivation to participate in physical activity across their lifespan, not just their time in school,” she says.

Jill also strives for activity promotion through her work as the acting graduate student coordinator of IMPACT, a physical activity program for children with disabilities. The program serves more than 90 children from Corvallis and surrounding communities. She also spent three years volunteering for Wings Transition Program for individuals with disabilities to develop lifetimes fitness skills.

“I was drawn to the adapted physical activity field because of an interest in using physical activity as a means to not only promote health for individuals with disabilities but also as a means to bring people with and without disabilities together as members of common communities,” she says.

Megan nominated Jill, who is concurrently completing a Master of Public Health degree, for the award because she has personally witnessed Jill’s dedication and commitment to the field during her time at OSU. Jill started in the CPPHS as a master’s student in adapted physical activity and Megan says she stood out amongst her peers. In fact, CPHHS faculty approached her to consider applying early into the PHD program.

“I believe that Jill’s combined skill-set will uniquely move our field forward and provide evidence of the importance of adapted physical activity within and beyond our immediate field,” Megan says.

J.K. feels that Jill has exceeded every expectation of the program and recognizes that she has volunteered her time in public schools and other organizations in order to provide quality physical activity instruction to children with disabilities.

“We all have higher and somewhat unrealistic expectations from our doctoral students,” JK says. “They are expected to be excellent students, maintain a good GPA, be involved in research projects, provide instructor responsibility in our undergraduate curriculum and be leaders in service learning program to help individuals with disabilities.”

Jill has received funding for two of her research projects from external sources, one of them being a SHAPE America award. Jill also receives a highly competitive leadership-training grant through the U.S. Department of Education for her doctoral program.

In her first year as a doctoral student, she received OSU’s Steve Staggs Scholarship, an annual award given to the student who most exemplifies outstanding personal and professional qualities. Also in her first year, she had a first author publication in the “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” and co-authored a publication in “Brain Injury.” She currently has a first author manuscript in press and two first-author manuscripts under review.

Jill expects to defend her dissertation this summer and is looking to secure a post-doc or faculty position after she completes her PhD.