June 9, 2021
Class of 2021: ‘Don’t give up’ attitude takes student in direction of health and wellness career
Lacee Many Grey Horses thought moving to Calgary to study at the University of Calgary would bring more independence, more friends, more fun. But she was overwhelmed.
“The thing that surprised me most was how big the classes were, and how many people went to the university. I was used to seeing mainly the same people in my classes while growing up,” says Many Grey Horses, who’s from Kainai, an Indigenous community near Cardston, Alta.
“I came to Calgary so I could have new experiences, but I was also overwhelmed, and missing my family, and my grades fell — I was really lost that first year.”
Many Grey Horses, who is graduating with a BSc in Kinesiology, did not start out in the Faculty of Kinesiology. She began her studies in the Faculty of Nursing and found herself on academic probation after the first semester. This wasn’t what she expected.
Finding a new direction
When an advisor recommended Many Grey Horses take an Academic Turnaround Program, designed to equip students with the skills they need to improve grades and stay in university, she pondered taking a year off instead.
“When I considered leaving, I realized that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to continue with my education even though I was struggling and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career,” says Many Grey Horses.
To explore her interests, Many Grey Horses moved into the Faculty of Arts in Communication and Culture, and later into Law and Society. She found the Academic Turnaround Program gave her the tools to improve her grade point average and she was motivated to look for even more resources to help her at the university.
“I began to do more research, and I went to workshops at Wellness Services and spoke with advisers at the Student Success Centre and they really helped me,” says Many Grey Horses.
“I also started going to the gym on campus; it helped me so much with my focus and with my motivation, that I realized I wanted to do a career related to exercise, and health and wellness.”
A fit with kinesiology
More research on exercise-related careers led Many Grey Horses to the Faculty of Kinesiology. With a greatly improved GPA, she applied to and was accepted into the highly competitive BSc in Kinesiology program.
“The kinesiology program was more challenging than I expected but I enjoyed it, and it made me grow which is important. The professors were very helpful and they shared their own experiences about their life and work which was inspiring. It made me realize there is so much more I can do for myself,” says Many Grey Horses. “I also really appreciated that we had so many different volunteer and practicum experiences available to us.”
Many Grey Horses took a practicum position working with EverActive Schools, helping the health promotion co-ordinator, and she was impressed by the impact program development had for youth.
However, it was volunteering with UCalgary’s rehabilitation and fitness program that really resonated with her, though she admitted to feeling a little shy about meeting the clients at first.
“Once I got a little more comfortable with the clients, I really enjoyed getting to know them and helping them with their workout routines. It was awesome having a hands-on role in therapy. I’m now considering a career in either occupational or physical therapy,” says Many Grey Horses.
Words of advice for new students
With a laugh, Many Grey Horses says finding the right direction for her was a long journey, but she doesn’t think new students should be too hard on themselves.
“Growing up in a rural community, I didn’t how many career options were available. But if you have the time and resources, get to know yourself better, try new things and think about what may be right for you.”
Many Grey Horses encourages students not to isolate themselves. “You may feel lonely, or like you don’t belong, but do the research to find the support you need whether that is emotionally, academically, or even physically like going to the gym. There’s always going to be someone that is interested in helping you succeed.”
The Faculty of Kinesiology is ranked No. 1 in North America and No. 11 in the world according to the ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments.