If Jalen Weaver could pass a bit of advice to future Comets it would be, “don’t blink.”
His time at The University of Olivet has flown by. “It leaves me feeling like I’m not ready to move on! I’m thankful I have one more year left,” he said.
Weaver, a junior majoring in exercise science, is living a full life at Olivet. He is vice president of Phi Epsilon Kappa, the Health and Human Performance (HHP) Department’s honor society; as well as a member of both the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and Global Citizen Honors Program. He’s also captain of the men’s cross country and track teams. This year, he took first in the 800-meter at the MIAA Field Day; he also holds the college record for that event.
Some of Weaver’s favorite memories to date revolve around his experiences with the track team. Not just because he loves the sport, but because of the irreplaceable friendships he has forged with his teammates.
“My freshman year, we took this trip to Chicago for cross country,” he said. “It was our first big college race with more than 500 athletes participating. To take it all in with your friends, and to be just as wide eyed as the people next to you, was quite an experience!”
It’s apparent sports play a significant role in Weaver’s The University of Olivet education. He plans to continue tapping into his love of the game at the end of next year when he’ll pursue graduate school and a career in physical therapy.
Believing his experiences as an athlete will make him an empathetic physical therapist, he knew this was the career for him the summer before his freshman year.
“Whether it’s throwing a fastball or walking up a set of stairs, I understand the frustrations and stress that an injury brings,” he said. While in high school, Weaver sustained a track injury that required therapy. “Their ability to get me healthy so quickly had me hooked; I knew this was what I wanted to do. I can now place myself in my patient’s shoes. I think they will be more at ease because of that, and I will be a more efficient therapist.”
From day one, Weaver has worked with Nick Juday, chair and associate professor of Health and Human Performance, to ensure he’s taking the classes that will optimize his potential of getting accepted into the best graduate programs. Juday and John Wilterding, Ph.D., professor of biology and chair of the Natural and Physical Science Department, also discuss various physical therapy programs with Weaver and connect him with alumni who have been through the process already.
Their collective work will help make Weaver’s transition from undergraduate to graduate work seamless.
“Nick and John are excellent teachers, but where they really impacted me was outside the classroom,” said Weaver. “They took an interest in me that was unparalleled to anything I had experienced before. Their care for me isn’t exclusive; they show every student the same level of interest. Professors like them make Olivet special.”
In response to his work both on- and off the track, Waver was named to the 2013-14 Capital One Academic All-America Division III second team and USTFCCCA All-Academic team.