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First MSK Graduate Class: Matt Leslie

Posted by:
November 19, 2021

Since its inception two years ago, a total of five students have graduated with their graduate kinesiology degree from PLU. We had the opportunity to speak with Matt Leslie from the first graduating class of the MSK program.

Here’s what Matt Leslie had to say about his experience in achieving a master’s in kinesiology from PLU.

Reflection from Matt Leslie, '21

My name is Matt Leslie. I graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University, with a minor in sport and exercise psychology.

Shortly after graduating from PLU, I heard that they were exploring the possibility of creating a Master of Science in Kinesiology. I made sure to stay in touch with a faculty mentor in the department so that I could be kept in the loop when it finally came to fruition.

I then jumped at the opportunity to join the inaugural cohort!

Eye-opening or valuable aspect of the program

The most valuable part of this program was the tight-knit community we built amongst the cohort and faculty. Being a small group, we were able to learn each other’s academic and professional interests and bounce ideas off each other as we worked on class assignments and our final applied project.

The small class sizes also allowed our professors to get to know us, and the one-on-one mentorship we received helped us all achieve a high standard of work in our final projects.

Achieving long-term career goals

My long-term kinesiology career goal is to help individuals maximize their athletic performance and enjoyment through mental skills training, with a specific interest in working with outdoor adventure athletes.

My final applied project helped me work toward this goal, as the project was titled “Research to Practice: An Examination of Youth Sport Coaches’ Knowledge, Perceptions, and Use of Mental Skills Training.” For this project, I interviewed youth climbing coaches across the country to learn about their understanding and perceived value they see in mental skills training.

I used the collected data to inform a psychological skills training workshop for coaches from two youth climbing teams. Delivering this workshop was an eye-opening experience, and I am excited to expand upon this work and continue working with climbing coaches and athletes.

Career after graduation

Shortly after graduating from the MSK program, I accepted a position as the lead account manager for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s (NOLS) custom education department.

In this role, I connect with outside organizations who seek to design a wilderness expedition as an experiential leadership training for their intact group.

NOLS custom education clients include military service academies, top MBA programs, and fortune 500 companies, among others.

My dream in this position is to bring the NOLS curriculum to collegiate and professional sport organizations because I truly believe in the power of team building and experiential learning that a NOLS course can offer such a client. My previous experience with NOLS and my studies in the PLU MSK program has put me in a great position to achieve this goal.

Pro Tip: Learn more about kinesiology careers here!

Impactful faculty member

Dr. Colleen Hacker was my faculty advisor for my final applied project. The hands-on mentorship I received from her was the most valuable part of this program.

To receive such thorough, consistent, and one-on-one feedback from Dr. Hacker, a leader in the field of sport and performance psychology, was a gift. It opened my eyes to the standards of quality and ethics that are needed to work in this field.

Advice for future MSK students

If you have an idea of what you want to do for your final project, start talking to faculty members as soon as possible. They will help you gauge the feasibility of your project, and you will learn early on who has the background, expertise, and interest to help you maximize your project’s impact.

Read more: Check out more MSK experiences from Kallan Campa and Delaney Salter!

Thinking about getting a master’s in kinesiology? Connect with PLU today!

Ranked by Niche as the top Kinesiology department in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Lutheran University’s Master of Science in Kinesiology at Pacific Lutheran University combines a rigorous academic experience with real-world, impactful applications designed to address critical gaps in kinesiology training and practice — read more about the learning outcomes below!

  • Flexible Program – may be completed in as few as 14 months, or over the course of 26 months. Classes occur in the evenings and are a mix of traditional and hybrid in design.
  • Theory to Practice Focus – coursework focuses on building an evidence-based practice through rigorous coursework applied to real world situations. All students complete an applied project as part of the program.
  • Mentorship – all students are assigned a faculty mentor who also serves as lead advisor for the applied project.
  • Inclusive – two required courses examine issues of diversity, justice and inclusion in order to inform how we do our work and how we can best serve a diverse population.
  • Career Enhancing – designed to serve high growth professions and to enhance the skill set of novice and experienced practitioners in exercise, sport, performance and health related careers.

If you are interested in learning more about joining a community of kinesiology experts at PLU, we encourage you to schedule a one-on-one phone appointment with us! You can also request more information or sign up for an online info session. We look forward to helping you achieve your career goals.

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