Name: Ishan Bhalgat
Program: Movement Science
Level or Degree: Senior
What are you involved in on campus?
I am on the e-board of Phi Epsilon Kappa [PEK, the professional co-ed fraternity for Kinesiology students], and I represent the School of Kinesiology and PEK on the Professional Fraternity Council, which is a board consisting of all professional fraternities on campus. I’m currently writing the third edition of the Biomechanics of Musculoskeletal Injury textbook with Dr. Ron Zernicke, former dean and professor of Kinesiology. I have been involved in biomechanics research and Dr. David Lipps’s lab, and I am also a representative in Kinesiology Student Government, where we host professional development and networking events throughout the School of Kinesiology.
I am in the Sports Medicine Club, where staff from Michigan Medicine come in and talk with us about the profession and organize shadowing opportunities. I’m also a member of the Indian American Student Association, and every year we perform a 250-dancer cultural show at Hill Auditorium, which brings in nearly 3000 people. I also work in student housing at the leasing office at YOUnion Ann Arbor. I also serve as a peer advisor and peer ambassador for the School of Kinesiology, where I help run orientations. That has probably been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had within the school.
What has being a Kinesiology peer mentor meant to you?
When I came to Michigan, I didn’t know anybody. I was coming from a small town in New Jersey and I had no connections to the area other than my grandparents living in Flint. I was terrified during my first-year orientation. I was meeting brand-new people left and right but I didn’t have anyone I could stick with, as I was the first person I knew who came to the school, so it was a really big push out of my comfort zone. The Kinesiology peer advisors’ support helped me feel like I could do this. During orientation, you get bombarded with so much information, so having that student perspective is huge. I remember how comfortable I felt after that session, so when I became eligible for the position I applied for it. Through my experience, I felt like I could directly give back to students because I can identify with that feeling of discomfort associated with coming from a small high school to a university the size of Michigan with a blank slate. I want to help all incoming first-year students seize the most out of their educational opportunities at Michigan and within Kinesiology.
How has the School of Kinesiology prepared you for your post-graduation goals?
I am applying to medical school and Movement Science is the perfect gateway for this. I feel like the Movement Science curriculum really provided the opportunities to get the foundational background needed to go into medicine. You learn about the systems and the integrative nature of the human body through ANATOMY 403, MOVESCI 230/231, PHYSIOL 201, and AT 220/221. Then, the three facets of the Movement Science curriculum, motor control, biomechanics, and exercise physiology, covers how the brain produces movement after interpreting external stimuli, the mechanical principles of different tissues collaborate and the physical principles associated with movement, and what happens when you push your body to the limit in exercise. I view the curriculum as a great holistic approach to the body and it’s more of a refined learning style compared to other majors outside of Kinesiology. When I took the MCAT, because of the Movement Science curriculum, I was ready.
What makes the School of Kinesiology unique?
The school is a very small, tight-knit community. I always tell incoming students our professors want to and will go out of their way to get to know you. Because of that, you have so much control over your Kinesiology career. You can make the most out of the many opportunities that come your way, randomly and actively, and you can see what works for you to make your years at Michigan so unique. I have cold-emailed professors asking if they need research assistance, and they’ve graciously offered me those opportunities without ever seeing my face. Michigan Kinesiology has the ability to open your eyes and grant you access to opportunities you couldn’t get elsewhere.
What is your most memorable moment within the school?
I’ve worked extensively with Dr. Tom Templin, associate dean of faculty and undergraduate student affairs, who was my MOVESCI 219 professor. He invited me to take another class with him, MOVESCI 313, and that was my most memorable experience so far. In conjunction with the various allied health graduate schools across campus, it was a course focusing on a rising area of medical practice called Interprofessional Education (IPE). In traditional medical practice, a patient sees one specialist for one medical service; IPE has professionals of all backgrounds under one roof to provide a patient with a unique, holistic, and efficient form of care.
We volunteered at the University of Michigan Student-Run Free Clinic (operating on an IPE platform) and prepared a report on how IPE helped the clinic meet patient needs and what could be improved. It was the most hands-on experience I could have gotten and students in other schools don’t get (or have heard of) this type of experience, and it was completely orchestrated by the School of Kinesiology. We even went as far as to meet with Dean Ploutz-Snyder and Dr. Templin as well as other professors concerning the future of IPE in the undergraduate curriculum and how we could revise it to incorporate more of its principles.
Do you have an “a-ha” moment or a time when your perspective shifted?
I think that figuring out that Movement Science was the major for me. I knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was young, but I entered the School of Kinesiology as an Athletic Training major. I took the introductory courses for both majors in my first year, but I wasn’t sure Athletic Training was right for me. I knew I loved the curriculum and professors of both, but once I figured out the bridging potential of Movement Science and medical school, I knew I needed to switch majors if I wanted to pursue my childhood dreams.
Tell us about your favorite experience in your program/degree.
Phi Epsilon Kappa has been a highlight of all the organizations I’ve been in. As mentioned, when I came to Michigan, I didn’t know anybody. I rushed PEK the second semester of my first year, and through that organization, I found my best friends. I walk into any Kinesiology class and I immediately know half of my peers just through the connections I’ve made through PEK. We’re involved on campus and I feel like I’m doing something for the community, but at the same time, enjoying the time I get to spend with my friends.
How have you changed academically, socially, or professionally since your first year?
It’s become very real for me. A lot of change happens in the first year as you prepare to get into the driver’s seat, and the ball is finally in your court for growth by junior year. Ever since day one, I’ve been trying to make the most out of the opportunities that were offered for professional growth. I’m finding value in the meaningful connections I’ve made throughout college and my personal growth as a result. I have learned that your network becomes a means of achievement, through the laughs, tears, failures, and triumphs. They will help me live life to its fullest potential. Thus, the networking I’ve been able to do through PEK is irreplaceable.
What is your favorite thing to do in Ann Arbor?
The summertime in Ann Arbor is awesome. The Art Fair and all the community events with obviously amazing food makes the experience worthwhile. One of my favorite memories is kayaking down the river on Fourth of July 2019 in a downpour with all my friends who stayed over the summer. I highly recommend spending a term in the city at this time!