Place of opportunity
Janet Nagaj came to Berry with dreams of becoming a physical therapist, but the opportunities she encountered in the Steven J. Cage Athletic and Recreation Center and around campus were far more than she had expected.
“Every department in the Cage has had an effect on me,” Janet said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without it.”
Instilled with a love of anatomy and physiology as well as health and exercise, Janet determined as a freshman that she would take advantage of every firsthand experience. The Cage provided that and more, housing both the classrooms where she would gain critical knowledge of her craft and the athletic training facility that allowed her to put that knowledge to work administering care for student-athletes during and after their games.
“What I’ve learned in the training room, I can apply in the classroom, especially as an exercise science major,” she explained. “It’s the perfect work complement to our hands-on curriculum.”
Janet’s professors and supervisors continually encouraged her to seek opportunities outside the classroom, and thanks to relationships formed in the Cage, she was able to secure internships with local physical therapists and Pilates instructors that helped to shape her aspirations to one day launch her own physical therapy practice which would incorporate Pilates methods.
“I have been given the chance to work with these amazing people,” she stated. “And it’s really grounded in me what I want and reaffirmed that I’m taking the right path.”
Janet is one of many students whose Berry experiences have been shaped by the Cage Center. Since the facility opened in 2008, the exercise science program has grown from 15 majors to more than 100. At the same time, course offerings in kinesiology and exercise science have grown considerably and now serve the needs of approximately 1,500 students each year.
Ginger Swann, a former varsity tennis player at Berry who now serves as the college’s head athletic trainer, marvels at the expanded opportunities the Cage provides.
“The obvious change for me is seeing more students being active,” Swann said. “The Cage encourages more community through increased attendance at athletic events and provides better training facilities for student-athletes. There are also new resources for faculty members that increase opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience.”
Janet is grateful to the many donors who made the Cage a reality for her and other students. Their generosity has inspired in her a desire to help future students.
“I want to give back to Berry,” she said, “because of the experience it’s given me.”
Written by Alyssa Hollingsworth
Student Editorial Assistant