Honored for leading Campus Recreation operations, programming, and training with ingenuity and inclusivity, Fitness Intern Allyson Schwab ’20 has been named Plymouth State University’s 2019–20 Student Employee of the Year. As an exercise and sport physiology major and a health minor, Schwab has been passionately committed to her work, earning praise from students and staff alike.
Coming to PSU as a three-sport athlete from Wilton, New Hampshire, Schwab knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career in fitness and wellness at a school where community mattered.
“When I first toured PSU as a high school senior, I immediately felt welcomed and at home,” she says. “That’s what drew me in. Once I got to campus, though, I quickly realized how many amazing opportunities were available to me.”
The most profound, perhaps, was discovering and obtaining a job at Campus Recreation within her first year. As fitness intern and lead student employee, Schwab supports patrons through fitness programs and education. Other duties include researching fitness equipment for purchase, setting up digital communications for staff, running training for up to 30 student –staff members, and serving as a department representative at open houses, orientation sessions, and student panels.
Each year, supervisors across campus are invited to nominate student employees whom they feel deserve recognition for their job performance in communication, digital technology, problem solving, work ethic, intercultural fluency, career management, leadership, and teamwork. Director of Campus Recreation Drew Guay felt strongly that Schwab warranted celebration for her hard work and dedication.
“Ally is every employer’s dream,” says Guay. “She genuinely enjoys helping others and making people feel valued. In challenging herself to do and be her very best, she betters the department, her peers’ fitness experience, and her career goals. She will leave behind a legacy that will last for years.”
Schwab has come up with a variety of unique program ideas. On select Sundays, the Fitness Room in the Hartman Union Building opens early, inviting people who aren’t familiar with the weight room to participate in the Learn to Lift Program. Tuesday nights are for a women-only weightlifting session called Ladies Power Hour. And through a wellness program partnership with Healthy PSU, she has tracked clients’ eating and exercise habits to better inform them of improvements that can be made to their personal health.
“These programs have been well received and have brought many new people to our fitness facilities who may not have otherwise felt comfortable coming in,” Guay says.
Encouraging newcomers and creating an inclusive space are Schwab’s greatest accomplishments, which she has achieved through programmatic ideas and social media engagement. She uses social media platforms to not only promote Campus Recreation, but also to educate. Her Wednesday Workout of the Week videos teach students how to use facility equipment and perform different exercises. She also shares workouts that can be done anywhere, without equipment or with chairs or other common household items.
“The other interns and I strive to strengthen our social media pages,” says Schwab. “This makes fitness more accessible for all. If people can’t get to the gym or don’t feel comfortable working out in public, all they have to do is go online and they can exercise from home. What’s great about this is that all ability levels can have access and be active.”
“I go to Ally when I want to connect new students to our programs,” adds Guay. “She’s incredibly inclusive and mindful about all of the different people who come into the facility. Ultimately, she wants everyone to feel a part of something.”
Schwab brings additional wellness opportunities to her community as copresident of the Health and Human Performance Club. In this role, she plans community service, fundraising, and professional development activities, including the club’s biggest event that connects PSU alumni and current students in the health and fitness fields.
Schwab has discovered the value of networking for herself through attendance at three professional conferences. As the only undergraduate student to attend the NED Fitness Summit in Wisconsin last summer, she learned firsthand from fitness professionals. She also builds connections as a member of the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association.
Schwab is grateful for the skills and experience she has gained as a fitness intern. She plans to pursue a master’s in exercise science before working in a clinical cardiac rehabilitation program.
“I’ve learned so much working at Campus Recreation the last three years,” says Schwab. “It is like family and it means the world to be recognized for the work I’ve done.”