Health and Exercise Science outstanding graduate reflects on the importance of building lasting connections

Jaya with Cam the Ram
Zaveri with Cam the Ram

Colorado State University health and exercise science student Jaya Zaveri, who grew up in Colorado, always knew that staying close to home was a priority when looking for schools.

“Out of the eight schools I applied to with a health sciences program, I kind of just knew CSU was the one when I stepped foot on campus,” said Zaveri. “I loved the environment and everything the HES program had to offer.”

Four years after saying “yes” to CSU, Zaveri is being recognized as an outstanding graduate from the Department of Health and Exercise Science at CSU.

Adjusting to home away from home

Zaveri grew up in Littleton, Colorado, just south of Denver, but the new environment of college was a large adjustment.

“I have always been a shy and reserved individual, that’s just who I am,” said Zaveri. “My biggest obstacle was learning to come out of my shell more and meet new people. I somehow forced myself out of this bubble and by doing so, it has led me to so many new experiences and people at CSU such as taking on leadership roles with teaching and even playing piano in front of a class of 200 students.”

Jaya working in the lab of Dr. Tracy
Zaveri working in the Neuroscience lab with Dr. Tracy

Luckily, Zaveri had her family to encourage her to embrace her CSU journey.

“My dad always tells me ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ said Zaveri. “The one thing I started doing since freshman year was making initial connections with all my professors and my adviser early in the semester by going to weekly office hours and then sending out thank-you emails at the end of every semester. This allowed me to build more of a personal relationship not just for that semester, but for the remainder of my time at CSU.”

A full college experience

Jaya in her student association dance outfit
Zaveri in her Indian Student Association dance attire

Zaveri took her family’s advice to heart and quickly became involved in departmental and university activities. Zaveri was an undergraduate teaching assistant in several classes, as well as a notetaker for the Student Disability Center, and an active member of the Indian Student Association, where she participated in cultural dance events to show pride and embrace her Indian heritage. She sought out engaging opportunities, including becoming a student representative on the HES New Hire Committee, as well as undertaking an Exercise Physiology Internship, designing an exercise prescription for her own grandmother, and building her own capstone.

Although making new connections was the hardest thing for her at the beginning of her college career, her connections allowed her to create a full, immersive college experience, and it’s the people who she now feels that she will miss the most.

“I have made so many wonderful connections with professors and my adviser and met some great friends who have helped me on this journey,” Zaveri said. “I know we can stay in touch through email and social media, but it won’t be the same as seeing them in person.”

Moving forward after graduation

Jaya graduating
Zaveri at the Oval Walk graduation ceremony

Although Zaveri may have her sights set on more education in the future, her immediate interests are honing her skills and looking for work to gain experience outside the academic realm.

“My plans are to land a job either as a physical therapy aide or in hospital rehab,” said Zaveri. Once she finds a good fit to gain some experience, she envisions she will return to academics, either for a graduate degree or to work in education.

“I have a long-term interest in either pursing physical therapy or teaching in healthcare,” said Zaveri. “I want to take at least a year or two off just to gain some experience and explore all my options before applying to a graduate program. I am also studying to receive my American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist certification in the near future.”

Despite coming to CSU with reservations about making new relationships, it’s these same relationships Zaveri has fostered that are launching her into her post-undergraduate life with confidence.

“Although I still don’t know what I want to pursue once I graduate, I do know by continuing to make connections with people and keeping my eyes peeled for new doors, it will slowly guide me into the direction of my future,” she said.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences