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Student Spotlights

Volunteer effort leads to career choice

February 2, 2016

Mutsa Godza of PETM

International student Mutsa Godza has found an academic home and a career in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. | LIZ KAYE / IU COMMUNICATIONS

Mutsa Godza found her career path early in life.

After volunteering at a rehabilitation facility in her native Zimbabwe, she was inspired to become a physical therapist.

"I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to go into physical therapy," said Godza, who moved to the U.S. in 2011.

When it came time to pick a college, Godza was drawn to IUPUI because of the plentiful opportunities to enhance her education outside of the classroom -- things like joining student organizations, conducting research with faculty and studying abroad. But it was IUPUI's emphasis on community engagement that resonated with her.

"What really sold me was making an impact," she said. "I didn't want to be that student who went to school, came home and did nothing."

Although Godza knew she wanted to pursue a career in physical therapy, as an incoming freshman she was unsure which undergraduate major to choose. She picked exercise science because she thought it sounded like fun. And as she began to immerse herself in student life at the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, she knew she had made the right decision.

Comparing her experiences at PETM to those of her friends at other schools, Godza realized that PETM stood out because of its supportive community. She was particularly impressed with the faculty’s commitment to students.

"The instructors want to get to know you, who you are, what your passions are," she said.

One of those faculty members is assistant professor Kelly Naugle, who leads the Physical Activity and Pain Lab, one of PETM’s four Human Performance Research Laboratories. Under Naugle's guidance, Godza is contributing to two research studies, one examining the correlation between physical activity and long-term pain tolerance in older adults and the other exploring the effect of pain on adults as they play video games.

Mutsa Godza

As part of preparing for a career in physical therapy, Mutsa Godza (right) gathers information about types of workouts and tracks the results. | LIZ KAYE / IU COMMUNICATIONS

Godza credits Naugle with being a role model for women in the field of exercise science.

"She has shown me that in a field that is male-dominated, she has excelled," Godza said.

The Physical Activity and Pain Lab isn't the only place where Godza has gotten hands-on experience in her field. Several of her classes have allowed her to put her knowledge into action in the form of service learning.

In a class on adapting physical activities for people with disabilities, she worked with children in a before- and after-school program. Another class gave her the opportunity to lead group fitness classes for community members. And she'll continue to get hands-on experience during her senior year when she begins an internship as a personal trainer for someone in the IUPUI community through the INShape IUPUI program.

Godza said that her favorite experience at PETM has been serving as a mentor for first-year students in the kinesiology learning community, which brings together freshman kinesiology students with faculty, staff and peer mentors for an interdisciplinary learning experience. She was inspired to become a mentor after her own experience with the learning community during her freshman year.

"As a freshman, I didn't know anyone," she said. "This was a great way to meet people."

One of her most memorable experiences as a mentor was watching the students she mentored work with kids who participated in the Mini-Marathon 5K race.

"It was a very proud moment for me," she said.

Despite her busy class schedule and her work with the Physical Activity and Pain Lab and the kinesiology learning community, Godza still finds time to participate in several student organizations. She is the public relations officer for the PETM Student Council and the director for dancer relations for Jagathon, IUPUI's annual dance marathon that benefits Riley Hospital for Children. She's also involved in campus sorority life.

It's no wonder, then, that her advice for incoming PETM students is to get involved right away.

"Take advantage of everything you see in college," she said. "Do everything and anything."

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