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UIndy’s Healthy Diploma option makes its grads look better to employers


‘Healthy individuals make better learners’—Lisa Hicks


UIndy students interested in health and physical fitness have a new diploma option—one they can take straight to the job market. The new Healthy Diploma program, one of the first of its kind in the country, was developed by UIndy’s Department of Kinesiology to give students a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle and a leg up with prospective employers.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to live and document a wellness lifestyle,” Kinesiology chair Lisa Hicks says, “and differentiate themselves in employment.”

A healthy lifestyle has been shown to benefit employers, because they get to pay lower healthcare costs for their employees, who need less time off for sick days, have higher morale, and are more productive.

Happy hiring

That makes people—and companies who do the hiring—happy.

“We’re trying to make our graduates as marketable as they can be,” Lisa says. Students can join the program during their freshman or sophomore years—and aren’t expected to be in peak physical condition. The goal of the program is to guide students toward a long-term healthy lifestyle. The program requires its participants (regardless of major) to complete 15 credit hours of health and wellness courses, plus health assessments each year to measure their progress.

“I like the Health Appraisal Days,” says Healthy Diploma candidate and psychology major Faith Griffaw. “We complete a series of tests each year, including strength and flexibility and blood pressure. They keep me on track because I want to make sure my results are better each time.”

Classes include wellness and fitness courses, plus classes in stress management and even financial wellness. There are also physical activity electives like aquatics, social dance, cardio hip hop, and yoga, some of which are open only to Healthy Diploma students.

“I thought the classes looked like fun and I knew I could learn a lot from this program,” explains sophomore Alice Brescher, an exercise science major and communication minor.  “I’ll learn more about my health and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.”

Personal projects

In addition, a final piece of the program is a personal health project, like reaching a specific fitness goal, and documenting the process.

“There are eight dimensions of health that we focus on,” Faith Griffaw explains. “I made my goals within exercise health and spiritual health. I want to be an all-around healthier person and also a more giving person.”

Plus, students don’t have to wait until they hit the job market to see the benefits of the program.

“Healthy individuals also make better learners,” Kinesiology’s Lisa Hicks says. “Regular physical activity has been shown to improve academic success.”

The program is designed to fit within UIndy’s requirements for graduation, so no extra time in school is needed. Students who complete the program wear honor cords at graduation and earn a certificate of achievement—with literature that explains the program to potential employers.