Jessica Sowell is a graduate of Bryan University's Associate in Applied Exercise and Fitness program. For as long as she could remember, Jessica wanted to be a firefighter; as a kid, she participated in a program to train and learn more about firefighting. However, due to a medical issue as an adult, Jessica would not be able to ride on the engine as a volunteer firefighter, but she could crew the ambulance. So Jessica decided to move on, and she became a preschool teacher. Once she became pregnant with her son, Jessica moved on to a work-from-home job, allowing her to be available for her son. As COVID-19 struck and her work stopped, Jessica began considering new opportunities to provide for her family and enjoy her work.
Around this same time, Jessica participated in her first Spartan Race; she loved training for the event and how this accomplishment made her feel. She began thinking of ways she could help others feel this same sense of accomplishment and self-love. "I always loved fitness; it was something that pulled me out of a lot of tough stuff that I had gone through." Jessica began researching personal training, and she found out more about BU. After speaking to someone at Bryan, she knew that starting the associate degree program was the right choice for her.
Jessica felt BU to be a very inviting school from her first few encounters with staff. "They were very open to all my questions, and because I was a single mother, I had concerns about the tuition - BU helped me identify grants and other ways to make school a reality." BU's student aid office was resourceful and helped Jessica identify the grants she could apply for. Once she learned that she would be getting a few of these grants, BU staff helped her figure out how to fit a monthly payment into her budget, which helped her get started with her program.
Once Jessica started school, she was pleased by the flexible schedule and the instructors' openness and encouragement. As a single mother working full-time during her schooling, she was thrilled that she could complete her homework on her own time, giving her flexibility for everything. "It was easier to manage than I had expected. I had done online school before, but I found that the learning system BU has, with the LearnIts and the ability to master assignments, were excellent."
And though Jessica could do much of her work independently, she found her instructors to be very available for questions or guidance. "My instructors were available and right there if I needed them. If you need to contact them, you can text or email them. I don't think the instructors would be that available if I had attended an in-person school."
Jessica passed her NASM certification and graduated from her associate's program. And while she still works full-time, she also has an independent personal trainer business to work with clients to help them reach their goals. Jessica starts by completing baseline assessments of her clients, and then from there, she creates a program tailored to their goals and abilities. "I love to do this. I love to write up sessions and help my clients reach their goals. It is exciting for me to know my purpose in life."
Jessica felt her experience at BU exceeded her expectations. "Everyone was here to help me get through school. I felt that they wanted me to succeed." Her advice to someone interested in BU is - "Ask questions and open yourself up to learning. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there."
Learn more about Bryan University's Associate in Applied Exercise and Fitness program today!