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Suzanne was told she didn’t belong in the gym

This article appears in: Exercise and Sport Science, Pathways to Uni
CDU student Suzanne Van Engelenhoven holds a dumbbell

While Suzanne Van Engelenhoven has always been physically active,  she'd never planned on turning her love for sport into a career. In fact, she never thought she'd go to university. Now, she's mid-way through an Exercise and Sport Science degree, with the goal of becoming a physiotherapist. 

“Dad always made us do physical activity. Growing up I was always active and playing outdoors. We weren’t allowed to watch TV unless it was raining, and I appreciate that now," explains Exercise and Sport Science student Suzanne. 

"After I finished Year 12, I started going to the gym. I found that really challenging because I’ve always been a smaller frame. And I used to get told, “Why are you at the gym? You’re too thin.”

And Suzanne never thought she would go to university.

A year after graduating from high school and doing odd jobs, I wanted to do more with my life. 

Suzanne’s choice of study? A Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, naturally.

Getting into university

Going to university was a big decision, so Suzanne visited the career counsellor at her old high school for advice.

“My career counsellor recommended I do the Tertiary Enabling Program (TEP), especially after I’d had a year break. If I was to give advice to a friend who hadn’t finished year 12, I would also recommend doing TEP.

TEP gives you a step up, and the information to excel in your studies. It can open a wide door into a lot of courses.

"It gives you a good idea of what university requires,” Suzanne said.

Pathway to physiotherapy

Suzanne is using her Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science as a pathway to a degree in physiotherapy. 

I wanted to pursue physiotherapy because I had a lot of help from physiotherapists in the past. I really enjoy learning about the human body and I want to be able to help people.

“I want to do rehabilitation work as well as some sports work with local rugby teams. I currently am involved with a local team and seeing the physiotherapists there helping the boys to be their best is just inspirational. I want to be able to give something back to the community,” added Suzanne.

Practical learning to get job-ready

"In our classes, we learn about the practical side of exercise and sport science, where we do a lot of work with bones and muscle groups. Our fellow classmates pretend to be clients, so we’re able to get comfortable with being around and working with a real person," says Suzanne. 

We work with parts of the body we need to move and use and test—something we’ll need to be able to do in our careers.

“We’ve learned how the body reacts with exercise and nutrition, as well as how we’re fuelled by nutrition during exercise.

"We’ve also learned about design and analysis of scientific data, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the muscle groups and how the body weight-bears during exercise, and how to optimise that.

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