What Does the Degree Have to Do with It?


I recently found myself coming to the realization that my undergraduate and one of my graduate degrees have absolutely nothing to do with public service or social change. I shared this “aha” moment with my husband and he immediately let me know that I was wrong! He told me, “Your degrees in Exercise and Sports Science have everything to do with service and social change.”

I didn’t understand him at all at the time, but after we had a pretty deep conversation I clearly saw the correlation between exercise science and social change. Throughout all of my studies, I learned how to train the body for the greatest performance. I learned everything from biomechanics, to strength and conditioning, to the role of cell and molecular biology in sports performance. I learned everything from the micro to the macro about the body!

Now, as a person who is committed to service, particularly community-based public service, I see the importance of both the micro and macro for maximum performance of communities. I think about those “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” muscles that are apart of the micro system. Those fast twitch muscles are great for a sprint and those slow twitch muscles are necessary for endurance. These muscle types are just like those of us who work in our communities. Some will commit to short bouts of service, rest a while and then they might race again, while others are in it for the long run and will stay the course.

In many communities, there are leaders who are the “heartbeats” of the community. These people are totally connected to everyone and everything, and help give the community life through their service. There are the veins and arteries that perform services within the community and keep things flowing. There are also the muscles, bones and joints that keep the community moving.

However, in both maximum bodily performance and community performance, there is a risk of injury. A tear, a break, a pop, a rupture and even a strain could keep someone from performing to their maximum potential. A physical therapist, athletic trainer or even a doctor sometimes comes in to help rehabilitate the injured. These are professionals who are trained to take care of the body! Our communities also face tears, breaks, pops, ruptures and even strains. Who helps keep our communities strong and healthy? Who is responsible for rehabilitating these injuries? When a community is not performing at it’s maximum potential, should we keep playing and pretend nothing is wrong or should we do something to prevent further injury?

Every body is different and every community is different, but in both cases performing at a maximal level is preferable. We have to do what we can to nourish both, care for both and treat both in the case of an injury! So I guess my husband was right, exercise science DOES have something to do with it.

Article by Andrea Price, Social Change Strategist and Radio Show Host at The Giving Net