First student to graduate from NFES combined degree pathway

Matt Lopez was a senior in exercise physiology when the College announced a B.S./M.S. combined degree pathway to start the following year. It might not’ve been planned, but the timing was right and he knew he had the grades to apply. One year (and two degrees) later, Matt will be the first graduate of the pathway. Earning your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years is quite an accomplishment, so we wanted to get some insight into his experience.

What brought you to FSU?

I really had no wish to stay very close to home (Ocala, FL), but I also did not want to go far. I mainly applied to schools in state, but the only place I visited was Tallahassee (my cousin went to FSU at the time…) and that really influenced me to go to FSU.

What led you to decide to major in exercise physiology? The combined degree pathway?

I knew right away I would be pursuing medical school when I started at FSU, and the best major for that was exercise physiology. It’s one of the toughest majors here and you take a lot of classes that prepare you for applications to medical school. The combined degree pathway was just created before my last semester of undergrad. My primary professor Dr. Jeong-Su Kim mentioned applying and I jumped at the opportunity. I really enjoyed the exercise physiology courses and getting my master’s degree in only one year not only advanced me further in my education, but it also gave me the upper edge in applications.

As the first graduate of the exercise physiology B.S./M.S. combined pathway, do you have any advice for students considering the same?

If you are planning to take the same path as me, make sure that you are ready to apply (with the GRE complete and professors ready to write you letters of recommendation). Create good relationships your professors in undergrad… because they just may be the ones that will help you get into a graduate program.

Was their a particular professor or course that impacted your education?

I think that every single professor impacted my career. Each taught me a different skill or tool. They all offered help around every corner and gave me advice in many tough decisions I had to make. The cardiorespiratory and anthropometric evaluation course was great. I learned many applications that I can use in my future endeavors in the medical field.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I plan to apply to physician assistants school. I’ve accepted a job at a hospital in Ocala and will be working while waiting to get in to PA school.

Looking back at your freshman year, what is one thing you would tell yourself?

I would tell myself to not be afraid to search outside of the classroom for ways to learn. I would have been involved in research earlier, and would have also told myself about Clutch Prep – this resource helped me get through some of my tougher classes later in my education, but I definitely could have used it earlier as well.

Favorite place on campus?

My favorite place on campus I think would have to be the Westcott Fountain. It is one of the most iconic places to go see and it is always quiet on that part of campus. The tradition of getting thrown into the fountain on your 21st birthday, or randomly going swimming one night with friends will never get old for students.