Graduate Student Spotlight: Vickya Leslie

As a Graduate Student Fellow in the Human Performance Lab, Vickya Leslie has been able to mix science and experience into her coursework.

Vickya Leslie (Collage)

Vickya Leslie 
MA in Kinesiology '18
Graduate Student Fellow – Human Performance Lab 
Undergraduate Institution
: California State University, Northridge 
Undergraduate Major: Kinesiology 

What initially attracted you to Saint Mary's College of California?

Initially, I was attracted to the Master of Arts in Kinesiology program at Saint Mary’s. Prior to applying, I was searching all over the place for a program that fit me, and Saint Mary’s was one of three. After I applied, I received a warm email from the Graduate Kinesiology program thanking me for applying. Out of the three schools I applied to, I felt like the faculty and staff at Saint Mary’s were the nicest and most professional. It was a no brainer that if I got accepted into Saint Mary’s, I was definitely going to attend.

What are some of the main differences between SMC and your undergraduate institution?

Saint Mary’s is different from Cal State Northridge in many ways. One being that the campus is way smaller. Cal State Northridge is the third biggest state college, so imagine the size difference. I appreciate Saint Mary’s smaller campus because I’m able to make more personal connections with my professors and the little I do on campus goes a long way. CSUN was always very energetic and vibrant, whereas Saint Mary’s is very mellow, which I appreciate now as a graduate student.

Can you give a brief description of what the Human Performance Lab consists of and your responsibilities as a Graduate Student Fellow for the lab?

The Human Performance Lab (HPL) is used by students to conduct lab tests. It consists of a treadmill, two cycle ergometers, a hydrostatic weighing tank, a metabolic cart and much more exercise testing equipment as well. Tests such as VO2 max, windgate, RER, and body composition tests are all done in the lab and facilitated by Assistant Professor & HPL Lab Director, Dr. Emhoff, and me.

My responsibilities as the Graduate Student Fellow include helping the students with their labs, setting up equipment, ordering new equipment, attending lectures, grading papers, entering grades, and keeping the lab safe and clean. My relationship with Dr. Emhoff is amazing, and she always makes me feel comfortable, and has further increased my knowledge in exercise physiology. She’s amazingly smart, patient, and always willing to help me. She’s also very passionate about exercise physiology which makes her passionate about helping her students. She strives to make any and every one love exercise physiology as much as she does. My love for the subject has grown due to her.

What are your overall career goals?

I aspire to be a sports psychology professor and a clinical sports psychologist. In order to understand how to mentally help athletes, I also need to understand how their bodies work which is what working in the lab helps me with.

I love athletics and I absolutely love psychology. It took me a while to figure out what I’m really passionate about, but one day it just “clicked”. I love people and I love helping them with their personal problems. Combining health and athletics is a bonus since I’m a health “freak” and I’m very into sports.

Saint Mary’s has done a variety of things to help me pursue my career goals. Allowing me to work in the lab helps me by providing me with the experience I need for my career. I have also had a ton of recognition and exposure. Getting my name out there and being well known on campus is important for recommendations when I graduate, and Saint Mary’s has helped with that.