The four students are the first ever to receive doctoral degrees from California University of Pennsylvania.
Cal U's first doctoral graduates: Rick Richey (left), Kaman Hung, Rosanne Woods, Melody Gardner.
A historic Commencement weekend in Cal U’s history began Friday morning, Dec. 14, in Kara Alumni House.
Four students — the first ever to receive doctoral degrees from the University — gathered there to present results of their research in the Doctor of Health Science and Exercise Leadership program.
The post-professional D.H.Sc. degree, one of three doctoral programs at Cal U, is offered online. The other degrees are an Ed.D. in Education Administration and Leadership and a Doctor of Criminal Justice.
The students, who all hold master’s degrees in exercise science and health promotion from Cal U, are Melody Gardner ’12, Kaman Hung ’08, Richard “Rick” Richey ’06, and Rosanne Woods ’05.
This inaugural class began their studies in January 2016. Cohorts have been added annually; the fourth class of 10 students will begin the D.H.Sc. program in January 2019.
Program coordinator Dr. Marc Federico, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies, had nothing but praise for the first doctoral class.
“They have set an extremely high bar in terms of quality of work and character,” Federico said. “They’ve done a tremendous amount of work while putting forth exactly what we’re looking to create from this program — people who are going to be leaders in the field of exercise science.”
Richey, a fitness educator, licensed massage therapist and personal trainer, is the owner of the Independent Training Spot personal training gyms and co-owner of Omnia ReCOVER fitness and wellness center, in New York City. He has taught at an adjunct professor at Cal U.
He said he was drawn to the variety of the program, which focuses not only on exercise science but also on adult education and leadership within the exercise industry.
“I thought, ‘My gosh, this is everything I want to be and who I want to become,’ so it was a no-brainer,” Richey said. “It provides me with an interesting bit of validity as a business owner, but there are other aspects … I want to explore, primarily education, and this doctoral degree will help me with that.”
Since earning her master’s degree from Cal U, Woods has worked as an online consultant for women’s health and as a personal trainer in Canada. The mother of seven, she was making her first visit to campus, as were Gardner and Hung.
“I realized I needed to further my education, jumped on the chance and feel very lucky to have been selected,” Woods said. “It’s been great and gives me a real ‘in’ with the medical community to be a referral-out for menopausal women, which is my specialty.”
Hung is a health and physical education teacher at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, N.J. He said his Cal U master’s degree is the most useful of four such degrees he holds.
“I knew the (D.H.Sc.) program had phenomenal faculty members involved and would be an immediate turn-key into my career,” Hung said. “I’ve already gotten interviews for supervisory positions.”
Gardner works in Allentown, Pa., as a project manager for IntegraONE, which provides a full range of technologies solutions. She still remembers the date — July 9, 2015 — when she received an email from University President Geraldine M. Jones announcing the D.H.Sc. program.
“This (program) will help in overall systems thinking, because people have a tendency to only look at what’s in their daily life without looking at how other people view situations that are different from them. This leads to more of a ‘big picture’ kind of thinking,” she said.
“I’m very excited to be here on campus, because this experience … has been very different than my previous degrees.”
Added Federico, “Ultimately, we want to create the leaders who can move away from ‘sick care’ to ‘well care.’
“I can’t be more excited and prouder of how this program has turned out.”
The first cohort in the Doctor of Health Science and Exercise Leadership program presented on the following topics during a research symposium on Dec. 14.
Melody Gardner: “Correlating Cognitive Flexibility and Mental Toughness While Examining the Connection Between Failure, Flexibility and Change Within Spartan Obstacle Course Racers.”
Kaman Hung: “Pedagogical Practices Among Public School Health and Physical Education Teachers Implementing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to Adolescents: A Phenomenological Study.”
Richard Richey: “The Perceptions of Certified Personal Trainers on the Value of Attributional Retraining: A Case Study.”
Rosanne Woods: “Association of Lean Body Mass to Menopausal Symptoms in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.”