Major Spotlight: UF Student Explains Why She Chose Applied Physiology & Kinesiology

In my previous article, I heard from Kaitlin Swiantek and her experience as a plant science major. It inspired me to explore other less-talked-about majors at UF.

I decided to explore the majors at the College of Health and Human Performance, which is home to a lot of diverse majors that integrate multiple disciplines. 

I decided to talk to Heather Bradford, a fourth-year student studying applied physiology and kinesiology (APK), about her experience with her major and the path that she led her to pursue her degree. 

Q: Can you tell me little about yourself?

Heather Bradford (HB): My name is Heather Bradford, and I am a fourth-year Applied Physiology and Kinesiology major at the University of Florida.

Q: Before coming to UF, did you have a particular career in mind?

HB: Coming from an active and rather rambunctious family, my siblings and I always seemed to land in the pediatric orthopedist’s office as children for various broken bones and fractures, so after speaking with and shadowing the doctors at length, I decided in seventh grade that I would become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Although that path has wavered quite a bit while at UF, I stand by my seventh-grade intuition.

Q: How did you decide your major during Preview? Did you change it later?

HB: I actually did not choose a major during preview and remained undeclared until the second semester of my sophomore year. I essentially avoided choosing a major until absolutely necessary, and my roommate pointed out APK as the obvious option for me. I had been taking classes in political science and anatomy up until that point in an effort to consolidate my interests, but once I dove deeper into my physiology course work, I chose to focus on one discipline. I have not wavered since choosing APK.

Q: What made you decide to make that switch to APK?

HB: I have enjoyed anatomy the most of any science since I was young, and I like knowing the “why” behind an action, concept, or phenomenon, so combining those interests seemed like common sense and allowed me some clarity when choosing APK. The human body is so captivatingly complex and rife with opportunities to learn that I could not imagine a scenario in which I was bored or uninterested, and I decided to take this ability to study it more in depth.

Q: A lot of people prefer to major in something broad that could be applied to many disciplines, what made you choose this specific major?

HB: It may come as a shock given my major, but I do not enjoy the traditional sciences like biology and chemistry, and I have always needed a way to relate a science back to the human body in order to sustain my interest. Despite not being naturally gifted in many disciplines, I chose to focus my time on exactly what I was interested in rather than gamble my time and energy on a more wide-ranging major for the sake of broadening any potential applicability my degree may have.

Q: Do you think that your classes in terms of size, have changed when you made the major switch?

HB: My classes have definitely gotten smaller as I have advanced through the curriculum. I took a research seminar class freshman year that had just about 400 people in it, and now my classes rarely exceed 50 people, so I have found it easier to engage with the material and my peers, a necessity as course material becomes more demanding and intricate.

Q. What do you recommend for future students when deciding to explore their majors?

HB: Take the time to know exactly what it is you want. Don’t choose a major just because your roommate has chosen it, and you think she has her life together. Be deliberate and clear. Don’t settle. Look at all your options, and don’t discount your own abilities. You’ll be fine.