Aakriti Agrawal graduated in 2017 with a degree in Exercise Science (BS) – Pre-Professional from Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences. She was also a student in Appalachian’s Honors College, which offers an enhanced academic experience to prepare students for success in graduate or professional school and for leadership roles in their lives, communities and careers.
Originally from Cary, Agrawal is now in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Duke University School of Medicine. She completed her honors thesis, titled “Initial Validation of Withings Pulse Wave Velocity and Body Composition Scale," with mentor Dr. Scott Collier.
She reflects on how her Appalachian Experience prepared her for where she is now.
“I always felt that the (Honors College) faculty cared and were invested in me. They taught me to seek opportunities everywhere I can find them and take advantage of each one I got.”
Aakriti Agrawal ’17
- What do you love best about the field of physical therapy?
I love the holistic aspect of physical therapy and how it's biopsychosocial. We develop relationships with patients and get to know them — it’s a mind and body approach. There is no magic pill that cures a patient. Lifestyle change, exercise and stress management do wonders for the body. We are here to educate, heal and also advocate for our patients.
- What aspects of your Appalachian education best prepared you for graduate school?
The Department of Health and Exercise Science is the reason I am as successful as I am in physical therapy school. The professors genuinely want you to learn, succeed and apply your knowledge to the best of your ability.
I got a lot of experience during the labs, conducting exercise tests that I would be doing with patients during and after grad school. Also, I volunteered myself as a test subject for research studies that the exercise science grad students were doing, and there I was introduced to research that was incredibly interesting and directly applicable to population health.
- In what ways did the Honors College prepare you for Duke’s program?
I always felt that the faculty cared and were invested in me. They taught me to seek opportunities everywhere I can find them and take advantage of each one I got.
Working on my honors thesis and curriculum with Dr. Collier prepared me in so many ways. He made me go out of my comfort zone so I could grow more confident. For example, I prepared a lecture and taught one of his intro exercise science classes in front of 200 students. As you can imagine, this was incredibly nerve-wracking, but if I had never done that, I wouldn't have known I had the capability to speak publicly and do so with confidence.
While working on my thesis, I learned different factors that influence a person’s health, including socioeconomic status, environment and accessibility, which are all aspects I need to consider when working with my own patients with physical therapy. Dr. Collier was my biggest advocate, and he helped me realize my potential.
- Why should today’s students interested in exercise science choose Appalachian?
Appalachian is in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in which there are endless outdoor activities to explore. There is such an inclusive community in Boone that values healthy living, and there are also tons of volunteer opportunities. Appalachian has the best exercise science program with the most dedicated and passionate faculty.
About the Honors College
More than 500 students are enrolled in Appalachian State University's Honors College, which serves a diverse group of high-achieving, high-potential, highly motivated students from all majors. The Honors College helps students develop independent and creative thinking and high-level research skills; promotes interdisciplinary inquiry; and nurtures cultured and caring exchanges of ideas. The college’s enhanced academic experience prepares students for success in graduate or professional school and for leadership roles in their lives, communities and careers.
About the Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian's Beaver College of Health Sciences opened in 2010 as the result of a strategic university commitment to significantly enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in North Carolina and beyond. In 2015, the college was named for an Appalachian alumnus and pioneer in the health care industry — Donald C. Beaver ’62 ’64 of Conover. The college offers 10 undergraduate degree programs and six graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Communication Sciences and Disorders; Health and Exercise Science; Nursing; Nutrition and Health Care Management; Recreation Management and Physical Education; and Social Work. Learn more at https://healthsciences.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.