Students studying kinesiology at the University of Houston-Victoria will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in exercise science careers through a new internship agreement with Citizens HealthPlex fitness and wellness facility.

“We are excited for this local community partnership and the opportunity for our students to prepare for their careers after graduation,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “This is a wonderful development for UHV as our campus continues to grow and become a destination university. We appreciate Citizens HealthPlex for joining us in our mission.”

The internship will provide students with hands-on experience using the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom under the direct supervision of professionals, said Raymond Tucker, a UHV associate professor of kinesiology. The internship will take place the last semester before students graduate and will include areas of interest for kinesiology students that include personal training, pre-allied health and physical therapy, and facility management.

Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, students will not be placed in the internship program until conditions improve.

The Bachelor of Science in kinesiology is a popular area of study for UHV students and having an internship agreement with the university is important to the HealthPlex, Facility Director Bret Barnett said. Because the HealthPlex is a medical health and wellness facility, students in the internship program will have the opportunity to observe and learn from professionals who work in out-patient areas such as physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and respiratory therapy.

Students also will be able to see how a sports facility is managed from a business perspective as well as increase their customer service skills.

“An internship at Citizens HealthPlex is beneficial for students because we offer a wide range of services to meet health and wellness needs,” Barnett said. “When students do their internship here, they’ll be able to rotate through different areas of kinesiology. They might be checking blood pressures, observing a client doing a stress test and physical therapy, or coaching clients on how to properly use fitness equipment. It will be a good fit.”

The kinesiology program at UHV has grown since 2015, when the university first started offering the degree. The internship with the HealthPlex will be best for students getting a degree in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise sports science, pre-allied health or sport management, said Chang Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology.

Students in the pre-allied health concentration will be able to prepare for physical therapy school with the internship, since the facility specializes in rehabilitation. Students also will benefit from the medically based training the staff at the facility use to help clients safely exercise.

“The overall goal of the kinesiology program is to expand the knowledge of students to make them as educated as possible, so when they graduate and leave us, they will be properly trained for their careers,” Lee said. “This internship opportunity will help prepare them for their future.”

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