With a love of both dance and science, Kristina Kehoe came to The University of Akron undecided about which to pursue as a major. Then she was introduced to a career option that combined these interests with another love — helping others.
Now the honors student will receive a B.S. in Exercise Science, magna cum laude at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 6. Kehoe has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Spring 2011 Class as the student responder at the ceremony.
She'll have just enough time to get her UA diploma framed before she begins to earn her next one. In June, Kehoe heads to Ohio State University to begin a three-year program to earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree.
"I've always been active, I did cross-country in high school and dance from an early age, mostly ballet," says Kehoe. "I started out in biology, but physical therapy gives me the opportunity to take my experiences and interests and help people directly."
Despite her indecision about a major, the Conneaut, Ohio, native says coming to UA was an easy choice to make. "I really liked the campus and there are so many opportunities. And there's a lot more diversity among the people here, which is so different from my tiny hometown."
She also received several important scholarships, including being chosen as a STEM Scholar (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and The University of Akron Honors Scholarship and The University of Akron Presidential Scholarship.
Kehoe was quick to embrace a wide variety of opportunities she saw here.
For all four years on campus, she was a student assistant at Bierce Library and, since 2011, she has taught dance at Wildfire Dance. A member of the Multicultural Honors Society, Kehoe has been a volunteer for many organizations, including Summit County Senior Olympics, Active Aging Wellness Fair, Summit Athletic Running Club, Hearts for Humanity and Relay for Life.
In both 2010 and 2011, she was part of UA's Alternative Spring Break Trip to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
"I had no experience with painting and carpentry," Kehoe admits with a smile. "But I learned a lot helping to demolish one house and painting and caulking at another. The people there were so friendly and so appreciative of everything we did to help them."
As part of her degree work, Kehoe gained practical experience as a volunteer at Akron General Medical Center, working with patients in the hospital and those coming in for therapy as they recovered from injuries and surgeries. Those hours have given her a direction for what area in which she might specialize.
"It's still early to decide, but I'm very interested in working in the geriatrics field," says Kehoe.
As for her advice to incoming freshmen?
"Take advantage of all the opportunities you can — UA has a lot to offer," says Kehoe. "I’m sad to leave, but I feel very satisfied with my time here, and I am fully prepared for what comes next."