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Arnold School of Public Health


May graduate will help rebuild Columbia community impacted by 2015 flood through project lead position with AmeriCorps Vista

July 25, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

“The South Carolina Honors College and its scholarships were a large reason why I was attracted to USC,” says Jessica Krauss, a native of Short Pump, Virginia. “However, the first time I stepped foot on campus for a tour, it felt like home. There was something about the students on campus and the beauty of the Historic Horseshoe that made USC seem like the place I was meant to be.”

The May graduate chose exercise science as her major due to her experiences during high school. Krauss was an athlete who studied health sciences through her school’s science, math, and technology center and became interested in careers that connected sports/exercise to scientific study/applications.

Originally interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, Krauss wrapped up her undergraduate experience with a different kind of therapy. She recently defended her Honors College Senior Thesis on a project titled, Dogs of UofSC. Her research investigated the role of dogs on college campuses, specifically Carolina’s, and how dogs affect and support physical activity behaviors as well as mental health.

The exercise science and public health programs are places where mentors and professors want to see students succeed.

-Jessica Krauss, B.S. in exercise science graduate

The shift in Krauss’ interests resulted from her exposure to public health concepts and approaches through her academic program. After taking an introductory course and getting to know some of the faculty members, she became interested in how the built environment and public health policy affect physical activity and exercise for individuals within a given community.

“It was through Dr. Charlotte Galloway’s support of developing my own evidence-based perspective that I began to develop my long-term goals for a career in public health,” Krauss says. “Dr. Sara Corwin served as my thesis director and has always been one of the most personable mentors I have had through the Arnold School.”

She also found a mentor in exercise science distinguished professor Larry Durstine, who taught Krauss’  Physical Activity, Exercise, Chronic Disease, and Rehabilitation course. “He set high expectations, which gave me a great opportunity to raise my own expectations for the quality of work I could produce and the depth at which I could explore and understand scientific literature related to course content,” she says. 

These programs are places where students not only learn concepts, theories and evidence-based practices, but where we are taught how to apply those practices.

-Jessica Krauss, B.S. in exercise science graduate

Once immersed in her program, Krauss added a health promotion, education, and behavior minor and began seeking practical experiences to apply what she was learning at the Arnold School. These opportunities included traveling to Australia to take a Study Abroad course in Sports Medicine, History, and Culture and volunteering/interning with Healthy Columbia, where she performed health screenings and discussed goal-planning with medically-underserved individuals in the Columbia area.

The President’s and Dean’s list recipient also presented at Discover USC 2018, where she earned second place for her Graduation with Leadership Distinction in Professional and Civic Engagement presentation. Her talk detailed how she has learned to use concepts and theories from her exercise science and health promotion courses to be a more effective leader. 

If you are interested in human health and behavior, whether because of personal interest or because of career goals, these programs are likely a great fit for you.

-Jessica Krauss, B.S. in exercise science graduate

Krauss will apply these lessons as the project lead on the Saint Bernard Project with the AmeriCorps VISTA program in Columbia. This project works to reduce the time between disaster and recovery in communities that have experienced natural disasters. Krauss will be a part of a team rebuilding homes that were impacted by the devastating flood caused by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015.

After completing her AmeriCorps assignment, Krauss plans to pursue a career in nutrition or public health, helping individuals and communities learn how to adjust their health behaviors to make positive changes to their daily lives and overall health. Long term, she’d like to help effect change within the healthcare system and government policies on health-related issues.

“The exercise science and public health programs are places where mentors and professors want to see students succeed,” Krauss says, reflecting on her undergraduate experience at USC. “These programs are places where students not only learn concepts, theories and evidence-based practices, but where we are taught how to apply those practices. If you are interested in human health and behavior, whether because of personal interest or because of career goals, these programs are likely a great fit for you. Apply and test out these programs, because they can lead you in almost any direction.”