Mary Kate Brooks

Class Year

’14

Hometown

St. Charles, Ill.

Major(s)

Exercise and Sport Science

Minor(s)

Health, Secondary Education

Mary Kate Brooks knew she was meant to be a part of the fitness world in high school when she started speed and agility training. Her training involved plyometric exercises, explosive weight training, and spring workouts on treadmills that went up to 45 degree angles. “I loved seeing how far I could push myself,” she said. 

As an Exercise and Sport Science major, Mary Kate not only pushes herself every day, but she gets to prepare herself to be a coach and share her love with others.

Mary Kate would like to teach physical education or health at the middle school level, while also coaching a sport. She plans to eventually return to school to get her master’s degree in anything from nutrition to public health, and would possibly like to teach at the college level or get involved in a health agency. Mary Kate would also love to teach a fitness class during her summers off. 

“In a nutshell, I love fitness, sports, and health,” she said. “I think everyone can benefit from it, and I want to share all that it has to offer with as many people as possible.” 

“I just really enjoy the sense of community here. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with awesome people, and it feels like we are cheering each other on all the time.”

Mary Kate Brooks, ’14

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

Cynthia Allen. She teaches a lot of the exercise science classes and almost all of the health related ones. Her enthusiasm for the field is contagious. She is also very creative with her teaching ways, and she initiated one of the most ambitious, yet rewarding, projects I’ve ever completed. For a community health class she paired our group up with an apartment complex that acts as a safe haven for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. We got to know the coordinator and most of the residents personally. My fellow students and I created and implemented programs based on health deficits of the group. It was a very powerful experience, and I could not be prouder of the final project!”

Favorite class

“Kinesiology was my favorite class by far because I use it everyday, either on my own workouts or when people ask for my advice regarding their fitness. The class made me realize all the small pieces that work together to make every motion in our bodies happen. I became super aware of the effect every exercise had on my body. I felt like I could conduct science experiments everyday with my workouts; my muscles were a ball of clay I could mold any way I wanted.”

Campus involvement

“I originally came to Carthage to play softball. That only lasted through my freshman year. I just felt that I wasn’t being fulfilled by the sport anymore and that the school had plenty of other stuff I could give a try. From there I joined Circle K, a service organization that is an extension of key club for college students. I’ve made some amazing friends and participated in wonderful service projects because of them! Just recently we helped serve food for those in need at a soup kitchen. Last year I was president of Circle K, but now I am back to enjoying the perks of being a member. My latest addition to my college activities would be that I recently took up diving for the Lady Reds Swim Team. I used to be a gymnast and cheerleader, so flipping and twisting are comfortable for me. I competed in three meets last year. I am far from the best, but I have a lot of fun challenging myself with it. I also really enjoy the other divers and swimmers that I have met through the experience.”

Toughest class

“Within my major, it would be Exercise Physiology. I loved it, but knowing the science on levels so small, such as cellular respiration, is a struggle! However, the class ended up showing me how all of it can relate to your daily choices and work outs, which I really appreciated.

Outside of my major it would be Astronomy. I had planned on taking a more basic lab science, but this was the only one to fit my schedule. I have been thinking like a personal trainer and health/fitness guru for so long that it was difficult for me to switch back on the part of my brain that analyzes constellations and performs calculus!”

Opportunities at Carthage

“The opportunity I appreciated most was my J-Term trip to Ghana in January of 2013. I knew there was more of the world to see, but I was not willing to commit an entire semester toward studying abroad, and I didn’t know enough to seek out traveling to a new place on my own. This made my J-term trip the perfect fit. We went to Ghana for two and a half weeks and in that time we saw three cities. We spent time with orphans, competed service projects with students who were deaf and those who were blind, visited a rural village, and ate a home cooked meal with them (I tried the rat stew!) We also attended various religious services, had deep discussions with Ghanian college students and camped for one night in the rainforest! The people I met and the moments we shared are truly irreplaceable. It was also cool to meet students outside my major, and some of us are still friends because of this trip!”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Probably Relay for Life. It brings people together in a way that few other things can. I always participate and honor my grandmother, and it’s so comforting to know that other people understand what you’ve been through while losing a loved one to cancer. The event is also incredibly inspiring to hear stories of survivors and know that the work you have put in will make a difference to someone!”

Favorite spot on campus

“In the winter, I am a big fan of those cozy red chairs in the Campbell Student Union along the windows near the fireplace. The fireplace keeps me warm. I can grab some coffee or tea and just veg out there studying or reading for an hour or so!”

Biggest surprise so far

“Honestly, I am shocked at how much I love this school now! I had pretty rough freshman and sophomore years. I didn’t branch out as much as I should have and I missed the boat on a lot of fun experiences because of that. But the last year and a half have really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have become close with people I never would have imagined being friends with a few years ago, and I mean that in the best way possible! I have made some great bonds with professors who have really helped me believe in myself and that I can be successful. I just really enjoy the sense of community here. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with awesome people, and it feels like we are cheering each other on all the time.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“My 8-year-old self would likely be pretty upset that I haven’t become the next Britney Spears or the fourth member of the Dixie Chicks! All that aside, I don’t think she would be surprised at all. I was extremely hard headed then and still am fairly hard headed now, but it’s what keeps me hungry and fighting to get what I desire everyday.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“Yes there are some easy classes in this major, like badminton or softball, but take it seriously! Exercise Science is no joke, there are classes every semester that will push you, and if you chose this major just because you want to play games all day, you are in for a bit of an awakening! There is a lot of cool stuff to learn but it takes effort, time management, and studying just like every other major. Also if possible, spread those fun classes out and avoid taking them all in one year. I did that and it made for a pretty easy year followed by some really rough semesters, so save some fun classes for the end!”