KINections presents Career Cafe: Women in Kinesiology and Physical Education

iStock image by FG Trade of a young woman helping a senior move up the stairs

Hannah Khan first got interested in kinesiology as a teenager after she got injured swimming competitively. 

“I really loved the way my physiotherapist explained in layman’s terms my injury and how exercise could help,” she says. “I found out that she studied kinesiology and decided that I was going to study the same thing.”

Khan’s first choice was York University, but when she went on tour of the kinesiology program, the guide couldn’t quite explain why students of kinesiology have to do practicums. The student ambassador at the University of Toronto Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) did a better job of explaining that practicums help students experience movement through various activities in order to give them a better understanding of what exercises to prescribe to their clients - if that’s what they want to do in the future.

“I was impressed by that,” says Khan. She also felt a connection to the St. George campus, where she went to camp as a kid. “It felt like home.

“I also liked that the program was small and interdisciplinary, covering a wide range of topics – from the biophysical and psychological to physical cultural. I felt like that would help me become more well-rounded.”

In her first year, Khan took the Outdoor Project (ODP) 100, which she credits for helping her overcome her fear of trying new things and meeting her best friends. She also enjoyed the physical cultural courses because they helped her think about the world in a different way.

“They helped me learn about healthcare inequities and barriers to healthcare for different populations,” she says. “This was important to me as a student who was aspiring to work in that field and it's something I try to keep in mind today as a healthcare professional.

“My undergrad experience helped me discover more of what I’m passionate about and helped me push myself outside my comfort zone.”

Khan recently shared the story of how her KPE student experience helped to set her on a meaningful career path at a special event organized by KINections, an initiative spearheaded by KPE’s Registrar’s Office. Sponsored by U of T affinity partners Manulife and TD Insurance, Kinections aims to help KPE students connect and get involved beyond the classroom. The event, called Career Café: Women in Kinesiology, offered students a chance to interact with alumnae in various professions, including public health, entrepreneurship, physical and occupational therapy.

Khan shared how in her fourth year at KPE, she took a course about aging and physical activity.

“I really liked it, especially because I am close to my grandparents,” she says.

After graduating from KPE in 2020, she applied to Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences, completing a master of science degree specializing in aging and health and writing her registered kinesiologist exam. Shortly after, she landed a job at a long-term care home in Mississauga called Village of Erin Meadows, where she works as a program coordinator for active living. 

She assesses residents to see what level of support they need to move from one place to another, for example from bed to wheelchair. She also assesses and prescribes exercise programs for residents with various conditions such as Parkinson’s osteoarthritis, dementia or stroke.

“There are various goals of the exercise, which can include fall prevention, improving or maintaining strength, balance and mobility,” says Khan. “I also train the team on proper body mechanics when assisting the residents to do things like stand up.”

On top of her degrees from U of T and Queen’s, Khan also has a postgraduate degree from Humber College in exercise science and life management, all of which contribute to her work today, she says.

Khan was joined at the event by the following alumnae:

Krystn Orr graduated with a doctoral degree from KPE. She spoke about her work as a physical activity specialist with Hamilton Public Health Services, developing physical activity, wellbeing and inclusive spaces and programming.

Leila Keshavjee, a graduate of the Faculty’s undergraduate program, shared the story about how she became a successful entrepreneur. Keshavjee is the founder of Happy Pops, an all-natural frozen treat company distributed to grocery stores - and attractions such as Canada’s Wonderland - across Canada.

Clare Richard, a registered kinesiologist, certified athletic therapist, and strength and conditioning specialist, discussed her work with George Brown College and Karate Canada as one of their athletic therapists. Richard graduated from KPE with a bachelor’s degree.

Nicole Brum, also a graduate of the KPE undergraduate program, spoke of her work as a front-line occupational therapist throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to this, she was a wellness coordinator for a hospital and the department head of a health and safety company. 

The KINections program is proudly sponsored by U of T affinity partners, Manulife and TD Insurance.