Student Story: JinJin Yuan

Wei-Jim Yuan

After graduation from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. To satisfy my parents, I enrolled in a community college in pursuit of a Business major. The classes seemed monotonous to me, and my grades suffered as a result. It was difficult to imagine myself sitting at a desk working a 9-to-5 job wearing a suit and tie.

I was offered a job as a personal trainer, but was reluctant because I had never considered fitness as a potential career. But I accepted the job, figuring I would at least get a free gym membership. Then I discovered I enjoyed helping people ― and wanted to be better than the typical corporate gym trainer with no educational background other than basic online certification.

I began looking up schools with programs related to health and fitness. Considering all the schools that popped up on my Google search, I felt Seattle Pacific University was the best candidate, with high standards and expectations. For the first time in my life, I was actually excited to go to school. I quit my job at the health club and began taking classes to fulfill my direct transfer associate's degree so I could pursue a career in exercise science.

Enrolling in the Exercise Science program has definitely put me outside my comfort zone. I am continuously being challenged at a high level. This has been the hardest I have ever worked, but I love it. I am so appreciative for this opportunity to learn at such a high caliber and be surrounded by other people who are just as motivated. Dr. Cannavan has made a lasting impression on me. He's the Washington state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has countless other credentials, so I can ask him just about any question relating to human health and performance. He makes me realize the level at which I need to perform in order to be my best.

My faith has become so much more dynamic since my time at SPU. I've realized God has given me a strong healthy body and mind to pursue a career helping others improve their lives. I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to receive a great education. Through the stressful times of studying for exams, my faith holds me up with resilience, and I can see that the bigger picture of what I learn today can ultimately help save someone's life tomorrow.

After graduation, I will most likely continue toward a master's degree. I want to use my education to promote social change in my community. With the obesity epidemic becoming more prevalent, I want to provide education and accessibility to healthier living. In the Bellevue (Washington) School district where I live, 22 percent of the student body receives free or reduced-priced meals due to low income, and roughly 185 homeless students eat only when they are at school. Not only do I want to start programs that address these issues, but I also want to provide classes on how to prepare and cook cheap, healthy, and tasty foods for these kids — not just send them home with donated processed canned foods.

I would like to work with local farmers and the community to help facilitate donations of fresh foods to the low-income families. I believe in promoting self-sustaining environments that address the root of the problem and make social change versus just responding to the problem and waiting for it to happen again.

Andrea Sonk

Andrea Sonk

Learn how Andrea Sonk used her Exercise Science major in her internship with special needs kids.

Clark Kegley

Clark Kegley

See why Clark Kegley uses his Exercise Science major to enhance his popular health podcasts on iTunes.