GWU Student Pursues Career in Medicine to Help People Make Healthy Choices

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Gabby Cortese ’18 Develops Skills Through Exercise Science Program      

Gabby Cortese prepares to conduct an experiment in the Exercise Science Lab
Gabby Cortese prepares to conduct an experiment in the Exercise Science Lab.

Gabby Cortese ’18 of Palm Bay, Fla., is the middle child of nine. When it came time for her to consider colleges, she didn’t want to follow in her older siblings’ footsteps. “I felt the Lord calling me to take a leap of faith and look for a college out of state,” Cortese stated. “I narrowed my search to the Southeast, because I wanted to be able to personally visit the college. Gardner-Webb University was one of the top results that came up. Its small town, community-oriented feel and evident Christian atmosphere intrigued me.”

As she learned more about Gardner-Webb, Cortese became sure it was the place for her. She was also offered a place on the cross country and track teams. Her next step was to declare a major that would help her reach her goal of attending medical school. “Growing up in a big family, I saw and experienced a lot of surgeries, illnesses and different injuries—broken bones, scrapes, bruises, dislocations, tears, etc.,” Cortese shared. “Also, I love to try and fix things, particularly with my hands. The medical field interests me as it is searching for and further developing the knowledge and skills to fix things with one’s hands and to make someone’s health better. My dream job in the medical field will involve me helping others to live at their fullest potential where their bodies are healthy.”

Gabby Cortese presented her original research
Gabby Cortese presented her original research “Effectiveness of a Student-led Worksite Wellness Project Addressing Health-Related Physical Fitness” at the Southeastern American College of Sports Medicine Annual Regional conference in Greenville, S.C. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Jeff Hartman)

Cortese took an introductory exercise science class and realized this field combined all of her interests. “I wanted my studies to be people-centered, focusing on human anatomy and physiology. Exercise Science met all of those criteria and more,” she observed. “I quickly realized that I had found a study in which I was excited to come to class to increase my knowledge. Rather than seeing deadlines and useless busy work, I began to see my assignments as opportunities to further my interests, to discover new knowledge, and to further develop my skills as a future medical professional. Exercise physiology, exercise testing and prescription, exercise for special populations, and my exercise science internship have been vital to my understanding of the human body and its responses to various conditions, both internal and external.”

She has equal enthusiasm for the courses outside of her major. “I believe every class I have taken at GWU has helped to prepare me for my future career by helping to mold me into a well-rounded student and growing professional,” Cortese affirmed.

Her personal and academic growth has been encouraged by the sense of community prevalent on the GWU campus. “The people I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know are genuine, kind, caring, respectful of differing opinions, and encouraging,” she described. “I have been challenged to set and reach higher expectations for myself. I have been nurtured to grow deeper and stronger roots in my faith with Christ. The sense of belonging that radiates from the GWU community has provided a place where I know that I am valued, known by name, and challenged to be a better version of myself.”