Travis Amato is one of the many graduating seniors that will walk across the College of Health and Human Sciences graduation stage this week, but he wasn’t always a CHHS major. Transfering to health and exercise science in his freshman year from forestry, Amato fell in love with the field and found a passion for helping others through the support he felt through those that helped him through his academic journey. Working hard at his goals, Travis received a 4.0 GPA in all of his health and exercise science classes, receiving only one B in his entire collegiate career, and pushing himself to reach his goals and graduate with Latin distinction.
“Travis was always an engaged and inquisitive student,” said Ryan Donovan, health and exercise science instructor. His ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and analyze complex interdisciplinary problems is outstanding! These traits, combined with his personal integrity and character, will help him succeed as a leader in the health and exercise science field.”
An active member of the community, Amato worked at the Student Rec Center, with the Adult Fitness Program to help a client reach their weight loss goals, and as an ROTC trainer as a practicum student. Currently finishing up his internship in Phoenix, Arizona, with the EXOS sports training facility, Amato has one goal in mind for after graduation – help more people.
“I found Travis to be a very studious student with a strong desire to succeed,” said Wendy DeYoung, assistant department dead and director of Health Promotion in the Department of Health and Exercise Science. “He is one to set goals for himself and find a way to achieve them. Not only an excellent student, Travis is a friend to many. He was the student seen talking with many classmates before and after classes. He has the ability in meeting people where they are and developing relationships from there. His friend group is diverse in ethnicity, abilities, and personalities.”
The Department of Health and Exercise Science is happy to recognize Amato as one of our Outstanding Graduates of Health and Exercise Science for Fall of 2021. We asked all our graduates about their journey towards graduation, and the challenges and triumphs they faced along the way.
Where are you from? What brought you to CSU?
I am from New Jersey originally. I was brought to Colorado by my infatuation with mountains, starting out as a forestry major. I chose CSU because of the expansive green space on campus and the family atmosphere I perceived when I visited. I was also intrigued by how much the administration seemed to care about progressing the world forward by being sustainable and a top research institute.
What obstacles have you overcome to get to graduation? How have you persevered through these unforeseen circumstances?
I have struggled with many things to get to graduation. Some that stick out in my mind are, first and foremost, getting through pace math, in all honesty. Teaching myself math through an entirely online course was one of the hardest parts of my academic career.
Like most people over the past few years, I have also struggled with dealing with COVID changing our way of life. Specifically, spending long hours going to virtual classes was extremely difficult for me as I am sure it was for a lot of us. It took much more discipline and motivation to get through long hours of studying to achieve the same academic standard.
I also went through a major ankle surgery. I injured my ankle through running in my sophomore year; I was training for a marathon when my ankle gave out. I had to get major surgery to repair my ankle, and this was one of the hardest parts of my college experience. I am a very active person, and it changed the way I perceived myself, to be unable to train the way I always have. I worked day-in and day-out on my recovery and did physical therapy for over a year to be able to get back to exercising the way I wanted to. I treated this challenge like my academic journey; I worked as hard as I possibly could to get my body ready to handle the demands I had once placed on it.
How have your academic experiences here and your professors, mentors, and advisers helped you overcome these obstacles and/or be successful in your major?
My academic journey has been something I am extremely proud of. I worked as hard as I possibly could in every single class I took. This work ethic was cultivated when I was in high school. As a child, I struggled with obesity and the challenges that came with having to lose almost 80 pounds to get to a relatively normal body weight. This journey helped show me that with hard work and support from those around you, you can overcome obstacles that seem unsurmountable. This journey helped create my value for industriousness and being able to continue pushing when I am tired and want to give up. My academic career has continued to help show me the value of hard work.
The guidance and leadership in the HES are second to none. I am so grateful I switched majors my freshman year into my true passion. I am even more grateful I was lucky enough to choose a major filled with such dedicated and supportive people. I could not have gotten to where I am without the support of people like Wendy DeYoung, Ryan Donovan, Kimberly Burke, Alissa Newman, and countless other people in the HES department. It was extremely obvious to me how much each and every mentor I have had cares about me and my journey. Every single time I needed support or guidance, these individuals would support me in extremely meaningful ways. The faculty and graduate students in HES are truly second to none and I believe they helped make me the person I am today. They showed me how to be a professional and gave me endless resources to further my learning. One quote that I read when I began here at CSU was from Isaac Newton, and it always stuck with me. He said, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”. This powerful quote has always been a part of my philosophy; I truly believe if I have accomplished anything, it is because of those who lead me and, in this case, the entire HES department.
What activities have you been most involved in?
I have been very involved in my two on-campus internships. The Adult Fitness program was my first ever hands-on training experience. Not only did this serve as my foundation for coaching, but it also showed me how to be a professional student. Kimberly Burke was a foundation in my professional development and helped show me what it means to truly help others reach their fitness goals. I was lucky enough to train a wonderful woman during my time with Adult Fitness and that program changed my career trajectory. I had no plans of training before going through Adult Fitness. This program showed me the value of sharing your passion with others and how that could really impact lives.
My second professional experience was with the CSU ROTC program. This was quite different from my experience with Adult Fitness, as we worked with elite athletes and future Army officers. Alissa Newman was my mentor for this program, and I am beyond grateful for getting to know Alissa. She was an example of how hard work and passion could take you to places that to me seemed impossible to reach. Alissa helped guide me and my other HES practicum peers in a way that has will continue to impact me as I move into the beginning of my career. Alissa showed me how creating relationships with those you lead can create an environment where people want to work hard for the team’s sake. The experience of working with the cadets is something I am truly grateful for, as I felt like I was making a real difference in the lives of people who give so much of their lives to protect our freedom. It was an honor to be able to serve those who serve us.
What are some accomplishments that you are most proud of during your time at CSU?
I am most proud of helping my client during Adult Fitness lose weight and be able to have the confidence to continue working out even when she was uncomfortable about her body.
I am also proud of earning an A in exercise physiology. This was the hardest class of my life and I worked tirelessly to keep my grade high in that class.
What will you miss most about CSU?
I will miss the relationships I built here the most. I have made some lifelong friendships during my four years at CSU, and I am extremely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. I truly believe life is a team sport and I feel like I would not be the person I am today without the people who have been there to support me every step of the way.
What are your plans after graduating?
My plans for after graduation include becoming a full-time trainer and working with people from all walks of life. I found joy in sharing my passion during my time at CSU and that is leading a healthy life. I am not exactly sure where I will end up, but I want to pay forward the unbelievable mentorship I have been given and help people reach their true potential. I plan to be a resource in people’s lives that they can come to when they are struggling or need help, just like all my mentors have done for me. I have been given the ultimate gift at my time at CSU, and that is the mindset that through diligence and perseverance all things are possible.