KOKOMO, Ind. — Combining classroom knowledge with hands-on experience adds up to a successful student experience.
Following the example of the professors who taught him at Indiana University Kokomo, Brandon Clarke plans to continue on to graduate school after he completes his degree in May, with the goal of teaching at the college level.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my degree past graduation, but seeing how well they do their jobs, and how well they apply their knowledge in the classroom and out played a role influencing what I want to do with my life,” he said. “It’s been great getting to know them as professors and getting to learn from them.”
He is completing a degree in exercise and sport science with a minor in nutritional science, while also playing on IU Kokomo’s baseball team.
Clarke, from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, enjoys the combination of experiential learning opportunities like visiting a care facility for people with disabilities or creating meals designed to enhance athletic performance with more traditional classroom experiences.
“Some of the best educators I’ve had, and especially the ones here, have this wealth of experience, and they can combine that with their practical knowledge and their academic excellence,” he said. “When they combine that in the classroom, it makes it such a great learning experience, and helps connect with more students.”
Clarke plans to return to a job working for the City of Vaughan, Ontario’s health department before continuing his education. He’s also gained experience working for Elite Therapy in Kokomo.
“For the most part, it’s about saving money for graduate school, but the experience I will gain will also benefit me,” he said. “It’s been great working with patients, getting workplace experience I can take with me as I further my education.”
Clarke has expanded his knowledge in the honors program, and by performing research about equitable healthcare for immigrants to the United States. He plans to present his findings at the undergraduate research symposium this semester.
The honors program gave him the chance to take higher level classes outside his major and meet students he might not have met otherwise. He said it’s unusual for a student athlete to be able to take honors classes on bigger campuses, but his coach, Drew Brantley, supports his athletes’ success both on the field and in the classroom.
“He’s let me miss some practices for academic opportunities,” Clarke said. “He helps all the guys with what they need for classes.”
Clarke especially enjoyed sharing his knowledge with his team, teaching them tips to better equip themselves as athletes.
“We had the entire baseball team in the nutrition lab and talked to them about pre-game and pre-practice and post-workout meals, nutrition gain, and weight gain and weight loss,” said Clarke. “A lot of athletes are focused on the performance, and they sometimes miss out on things like the impact of sleep and nutrition, things that can take their game to the next level.
“A lot of what I’ve learned I’ve been able to apply into my routine, from the exercise I do in the gym, to how I fuel myself with the foods I take in, to help with my performance and recovery.”
Clarke followed his brother Dalton, B.S. ’18, to play baseball at IU Kokomo, after a time playing at a junior college in Texas.
“It was a good opportunity to join a good baseball program and be with my brother, who got married and stayed here,” he said. “It’s great to have that support system no matter how far you are from home. I’m 500 miles from home, but having a place like IU Kokomo that feels like home is really great.”