Stephanie Magnone always envisioned herself as a West Virginia University student. Growing up in Weirton, West Virginia and motivated by her alumni parents and her brother, a current medical student at WVU, Stephanie chose to follow the same path.
“WVU was the only school I applied to because it was the only school I wanted to be at,” Stephanie said. “Both of my parents are alumni, and after seeing the success my brother had here, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else especially when I came to my first football game. The atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced, it was amazing and from that point on I said I need to be here as a student.”
Choosing a major can be challenging, but for Stephanie, the decision was prompted by a casual conversation with her mother, and it echoed her lifelong interest in sports.
“I wasn’t really sure what my future held, and for the longest time I told myself I wasn’t even going to enter into any kind of sciences, especially not the health sciences,” she said. “As I was looking at the list of majors on the website, my mother suggested that I check out programs that incorporate exercise, since I like that so much. With her encouragement, I found the exercise physiology program, and I thought physical therapy sounds like a track I can see myself doing.”
Stephanie’s life then took a detour, one that could have changed the path she had been set on. Yet, against all odds, it further reinforced her decision to pursue an opportunity with the physical therapy program.
“In my senior year of high school, during the third game of basketball season, I jumped up and then landed completely on my left side,” she recounted. “The shock of landing was too much on my cartilage to absorb, and it just exploded. I had to have a micro-fracture procedure done. I had to go through physical therapy rehab, and something just clicked. I thought this is definitely the track I need to take with my life. Once I got here and started the exercise physiology program, I had no second thoughts, I loved everything about it.”
As an undergraduate student, Stephanie praised the exercise physiology program for the numerous opportunities it has to offer.
“I completed the health professions emphasis in aquatic therapy, and a lot of the professors I got to work with in some of those upper level biology and organic chemistry classes have really opened my mind to what is so awesome about sciences and health sciences,” she said. “I am really glad I did that, and I like that exercise physiology offers that option. The aquatic therapy emphasis was one of the best things I have ever done; it opened so many doors for me between job opportunities, internships and experiences.”
Stephanie ultimately decided to apply to the physical therapy at WVU. In her first year as a PT student, she explains how shadowing ignited her passion for this career path and equipped her with the skills and knowledge to help patients.
“I have done a lot of shadowing and just watching someone who never thought he could walk again take his first steps, seeing someone in chronic pain and doing anything you can to relieve that pain, just having the ability to make someone’s quality of life better amazes me,” she said.
Having lived in Morgantown for a few years now, Stephanie labels it as unique.
“The community here is unlike anything else, everyone is proud to be a mountaineer,” Stephanie said. “Coming to WVU changes your perspective on the state and what it means to be a West Virginian.”
Stephanie strongly recommends exercise physiology to prospective students who are interested in pursuing a health sciences program for the compelling role it had in shaping her future. She also emphasizes the importance of being involved as a student in an array of activities.
“Exercise physiology gives you not only a strong background in the sciences, but it also gives you a lot of hands-on clinical experience that you won’t get with other majors,” she said. “We have a required internship where you have to work with patients and that was a huge part in preparing me for my future. As a student, I had the chance to be part of WELL WVU. I was a member of their student ambassadors team, educating others in the different aspects of wellness. I was also heavily involved in the Exercise Physiology Club, and it was a great way to get community service, as we have a community service requirement in the program.”
Asked about her future plans, Stephanie said that it’s hard to tell what opportunities may come down the road; however, the exposures and the breadth of knowledge she gained while at WVU have broadened her horizons.
“My vision, originally, was maybe orthopaedics,” Stephanie said. “That was until I had my internship at HealthSouth Mountainview, where I was an aquatic therapy intern and in charge of the therapy in the pool for the inpatients. Now I am torn, and I don’t know what I am going to do. I got so many great experiences with so many patients that made tremendous progress after having a stroke, and it was really amazing. It makes me feel that I want to work more with neurologic rehabilitation, so right now I am up for anything.”