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Oct. 21, 2015

Kara Harrison: Be Better Than Average

Oct. 21, 2015

Kara Harrison is a junior from Mattawan, Michigan, who is majoring in dietetics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She is an intern at MSU's Spartan Performance, which provides an integrated, holistic approach to the care and training of mid-Michigan athletes.

I was raised in an active and sport-driven family. I have played football, softball, tennis, golf, lacrosse and basketball. From the time I was five years old until I graduated high school, I played basketball competitively. Whether it was for my high school or my AAU team, I wanted to be playing.

What I wanted more, though, was to be a Michigan State Spartan. I am a third-generation Spartan and grew up coming to Michigan State football and basketball games.

I first heard about Spartan Performance my senior year of high school by doing a Google search of my three favorite things: exercise, nutrition and Michigan State. I looked into what Spartan Performance did and what they were all about, and I knew from that moment I wanted to be part of this organization.

Upon becoming an intern for Spartan Performance my sophomore year of college, I have learned about myself as much as I have learned about “testing, training and energizing young athletes.” Spartan Performance has given me opportunities at MSU that I could not have imagined; I am able to incorporate everything I love into an internship.

I have always enjoyed working with kids and want to continue working with children in my field of dietetics. At Spartan Performance, being able to take a young athlete through his/her very first testing session, teach and train with him/her every week, build a relationship, and watch him/her improve is a privilege.

It is a great accomplishment for all of Spartan Performance when one of our athletes is successful and excels in his/her sport, but also nutrition, mental skills and school. Working with young athletes requires me to constantly think on my feet, tests my patience develops my leadership skills and is continuously rewarding. My future will include working with kids, and that has been solidified by my experiences at Spartan Performance.

One way Spartan Performance has changed my outlook on the future is my education. I major in dietetics and am passionate about nutrition, but that is only part of it. My whole passion includes exercise, too. Dr. Joey Eisenmann and I have talked a few times about the possibility of me starting to double major in kinesiology. That thought had always been in the back of my mind but I didn’t plan on acting upon it. Because of his constant encouragement and his believing in me, I now have a meeting with my advisor to talk about the addition of a kinesiology major.

I lead a very enthusiastic, passionate and positive life. I have a desire to learn and a determination to be better than average; I thrive in the environment of Spartan Performance. The atmosphere in the clinic is one I love walking into every day. Everyone there wants to learn, improve, and help each other. As Dr. Eisenmann always says, “you control your own learning environment,” and I appreciate that mentality.

It takes self-motivation to be great and it is a process. Everyone at Spartan Performance loves the process. We all are willing to work hard and put in the effort. These experiences have made me even more excited for the future. I am looking forward to going out and sharing what I have learned. As a future registered dietitian, my career could go in a variety of directions, but one thing I am sure of is that the knowledge and skills I have received from Spartan Performance have put me ahead and will continue to propel me forward.