Senior Profile 2021: Kate Hermsen

Athletic training major overcomes challengesDegree: Athletic Training and Rehabilitation Studies, BA; minor in psychology 
Hometown: Jesup, Iowa

Why did you choose to pursue this degree at UNI? Growing up in Jesup, I was familiar with UNI and had already visited campus several times for various activities. So when it came time to pick a college to study athletic training, UNI was an easy choice as I knew they had a tremendous program. It would also allow me to go right from getting my bachelor's degree to getting my master's degree with the same professors.

What path did you take to achieve your degree? Instead of taking a nice and straight path to achieve my degree, I ended up taking more of a winding, rocky trail with some dead ends. Originally in high school, I wanted to go to college with the intention of getting into sports medicine. I went to Mount Mercy University and ended up switching my major from pre-med to criminal justice. After working for a few years, I decided to go back to school at UNI. I like to joke around that I've come full circle as I am now getting into a sports medicine-related field, a full decade later from when I decided it was what I wanted to do.

What does completing your degree mean to you? It's difficult for me to put into words just how much it means to complete my degree. It was difficult coming back to school after being out of a classroom setting for almost five years. So not only did I have to fall back into the routine of taking classes, having homework, and studying, but I did so while being a single mother to a toddler. I hope someday my son looks back at what I've been able to accomplish to tell himself that anything is possible. And to also let him know that it's okay if things don't work out according to plan the first time around. You just need to never give up.

What challenges did you face as you worked toward this degree – and how did you overcome them? There have been several challenges that I've come across as I have worked toward my degree. The elephant in the room - the COVID pandemic - was a big challenge that many of us faced. After being sent home for online classes, I had to figure out a way to focus on classes and get my work done, while also taking care of my almost 2-year-old son who was home with me every single day. It was incredibly difficult, as I usually had some very late nights working on homework after I would put him to bed. I also found that handling my schedule was in itself a challenge. On top of being a single mother and full-time student, I also worked at two different jobs while working towards my degree, along with being a Student Admissions Ambassador and College of Education Ambassador, and getting clinical hours in for athletic training. My time management skills were definitely put to the test and pushed to their limits at times. My family also really helped me out when I needed it.

How did UNI help you achieve your goals? The education I have received at UNI has been tremendous. The support and knowledge that I received from all of my athletic training professors was a big help, and they really pushed me to understand the material. They did their absolute best to help set me up for success in grad school. My on-campus job supervisor, Kristy Leen, also played a large role in helping me achieve my goals during my time at UNI.

What’s your best memory of your time at UNI? I think my best memory was the day my son came to class with me (shout-out to Dr. Kelli Snyder for turning on cartoons for him on the screen!). In one class, we were practicing for our CPR certification so my son actually helped do some rescue breaths for my group. He always loves coming to UNI and walking around campus with me.

What advice would you give to students considering UNI?  Step out of your comfort zone! Try new things and get involved. This is the time to travel and to start finding out who you really are as an individual compared to who you want to be.

What’s next?  Next up - the athletic training master's program here at UNI! I'll spend two more years studying at UNI to get my master's degree, before taking the BOC exam and hopefully finding a high school athletic training job here in Iowa.