Student nationally named ‘Major of the Year’

Story by Michelle Hawks, Contributing writer


Kimberly Whitaker was named “Major of the Year” by the Society of Health and Physical Educators America (SHAPE) during the organization’s 132nd National Convention & Expo in Boston March 16.

Though Whitaker could not attend the conference in person, she said it was an honor to be nominated and selected.

“It’s exciting to receive a national award in your field,” Whitaker said.

According to SHAPE America, recipients must:

  • Be a current SHAPE America member.
  • Be on track toward a degree in an HPERD (health, physical education, recreation and dance) field.
  • Be a junior or senior. 
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • Provide a service to school or community (3-5 contributions) for a minimum of two years during undergraduate career.

Miranda Terry, assistant professor in the department of applied health sciences and the public and community health program director, nominated Whitaker for the award.

“She deserves this recognition for all of her hard work,” Terry said.

Whitaker is the co-founder and president of Student Health Educators Association (SHEA), the department’s professional organization. She also serves as a student ambassador for the department of applied health sciences, was active in the planning process of the “Safe Spring Break 2017” programming and was co-creator of the “Take One, Leave One” food pantry program which provides food-insecure students with a discrete way to access food.

Whitaker is also the student coordinator of the Health Matters for Students (HMS) program.

The purpose of this program is to provide five-minute presentations and activities on various health topics to improve campus health.

These five-minute presentations, given to faculty and staff, are meant to be incorporated into classrooms.

Working closely with Terry, she was awarded an Office of Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) Research Scholar Fellowship and expanded the program into the public schools by working with k-12 teachers.

She was a co-presenter on this program as part of participant recruitment at Southern District SHAPE in January 2017.

Other research projects include her involvement in bringing the Rethink Your Drink community challenge to Murray.

Additionally, alongside two of her peers, Whitaker had a poster presentation at the ORCA Fall 2016 Scholars Week titled, “Photovoice Project: Assets and Barriers to Infection Prevention on a College Campus,” which was conducted under the supervision of Terry.

Whitaker also spends her time volunteering within the community and is involved in Hester Residential College.          

After graduation in May, Whitaker said she has a job lined up and looks forward to the opportunities it will bring.