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Class of 2022: Giulia Pires

Giulia Pires only needed one conversation with Kinesiology lecturer Angela Bryant to know she wanted to be a physician assistant — and own her own gym one day — when she graduated from McDaniel with her Health Sciences degree and a minor in French. She knew she was on the right track after loving her job at a local physical therapy office and conducting an independent study in sports medicine. Closer to her goals than ever, Giulia put her practical skills to work in her final Health Sciences capstone “Effects of Exercise on Cognition.”

Giulia Pires holds a textbook on health professions open while wearing a green cowboy hat.

Giulia Pires is a Health Sciences major with a minor in French from Silver Spring, Maryland.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: Nervous and reluctant.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: Nervous, but excited for the future and the new opportunities I will encounter! 

Real world experiences: COVID-19 limited my ability to work alongside health professionals and gain patient care experience. Nonetheless, I was able to find a couple of opportunities which contributed to my goals in some way and helped reinforce my desires for my future career. One of them being my job as a physical therapy aid nearby in Owings Mills. I worked at a physical therapy office which specialized in pelvic floor health and women’s health. There, I was able to help patients perform exercises that would strengthen their core muscles and helped them perform stretches to aid in recovery and relieve muscle tension. I am grateful for this experience because I was able to interact and build relationships with a variety of patients, as well as learn valuable skills that I hope will shape me into an exceptional healthcare provider one day. I also had the opportunity to do an independent study with Dr. Steve McCole in which I researched recovery post strength training. Besides learning an enormous amount of information, this experience solidified my desire to go into the sports medicine field.

My aha moment: I learned I wanted to be a physician assistant in the basement of Gill Center. I was sitting with Dr. Angela Bryant, who at the time was the nutrition professor, and she was telling me about how she was a PA and owned a gym with her husband. After that I was hooked on the PA profession. Eventually, I also fell in love with weightlifting, and I hope to open my own gym one day. It’s funny to think that I am finding myself going back to that one talk with Dr. Bryant.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I hope to be remembered as someone who kept working towards her goals no matter how hard it got.

Faculty or staff member who most influenced who I have become: Ms. Ann Mathias, who I have worked with in the Residence Life office since sophomore year. Her humbleness and kindness toward others influenced me to become a better person and to appreciate all the little things in life. She has helped me have a more positive outlook on life and has taught me that there is always a little good in life even when times are tough.

Best class ever: There are several classes that I enjoyed here at McDaniel. Human Anatomy and Human Physiology were two classes that were challenging; however, they were the most memorable for me because they involved subjects that I had great interest in. Again, although they were demanding, they were the courses that I learned the most in. It almost felt like I was solving a puzzle in each one. I also enjoyed my Topics in Biology class because we learned about the biology of nutrition. We went on a field trip to Baugher’s and we even made ice cream in class. It was a lot of fun.

Took me totally by surprise: Definitely how fast everything went by. I think because of COVID, a chunk of my time here at McDaniel was stripped away and because of that these four years have flown by.

My favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus is probably the football field. To me, it’s the prettiest spot on campus, and it’s also where I’ve had the most fun.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: How much more likely you are to get hired just for having a minor in a different language and how that increases when it’s a major.

My capstone title: “Effects of Exercise on Cognition.”

What it’s about in plain talk: My group and I are researching the effects that strength-training and aerobic training have on memory, attention to detail, and reaction time. Essentially, we want to see if various types of exercise have any effects on cognition, and if so, what they are. We hope to find if there is a difference in test performance, due to cognitive effects, between students who exercise beforehand versus those who do not.

Tell us a little about your activities, including sports, during your years at McDaniel: I was an RA my sophomore year before we got sent home for COVID. I think it was definitely a memorable experience for me because it taught me a lot. I learned so much about time management, work-life balance, mediation skills, etc. It was also just a really neat time because I got to experience so many fun events and meet so many new people. I think this sticks out to me the most because it was before COVID, so I always tend to look back at those memories.

What’s next: Next is either physician assistant school in the fall, or a gap year to gain more work experience and patient care hours. I am happy with either, but I hope to keep working toward my goal of being a physician assistant!

If you received financial aid, what did that mean for you and your family? I did receive financial aid. Going to college already meant so much to my family and I, since I am a first-generation student. Receiving financial aid was the cherry on top because it was such an enormous help to us.

Are you the first in your immediate family to attend college? What has the experience meant to you? I am the first in my immediate family to attend college. It has meant a lot to me to be able to attend and, more importantly, graduate from college with my Health Sciences degree. I feel so fortunate to have gotten my education and to have people around me who supported me throughout the process. Knowing that my parents’ sacrifices have paid off is incredibly rewarding for me.

How will you stay connected to McDaniel? I hope to stay connected to McDaniel by participating in alumni events and by staying connected to all of the people I have met here.

About Giulia

Name: Giulia Pires

Major: Kinesiology

Minor: French

Class of 2022

"I am the first in my immediate family to attend college. It has meant a lot to me to be able to attend and, more importantly, graduate from college with my Health Sciences degree."