ASU at Lake Havasu kinesiology graduate is accepted to top doctoral program

Jonathon O'Neil and his mentor, Dr. Rebecca Lidstrom, Lead Kinesiology Lecturer, ASU@Lake Havasu

Jonathan O'Neill and his mentor, Rebecca Lidstrom, a lead kinesiology lecturer at ASU at Lake Havasu.


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Jonathan O’Neill will graduate this December with a degree in kinesiology. The ASU at Lake Havasu grad and veteran is the first graduate to be accepted to a top choice Doctor of Physical Therapy program. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I entered college with the intention of becoming a physical therapist. Coming from an athletic background, kinesiology or the study of human movement was a very intriguing major to me and also one of the prerequisite bachelor’s degrees for physical therapy schools. I knew I was in the right major when I arrived at ASU and had the freedom to study topics I was truly interested and passionate in.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned a lot about myself. I figured out early on that I could be as successful as I wanted — as long as I was willing to put myself out there or put in the hours of work required to achieve my goals. This of course would not be possible without the amazing support system here at ASU Havasu. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU Havasu specifically because of its size.  When I saw the small campus size with the large professor-to-student ratio, I knew it was an optimal place for personal and academic growth. This location provides a student with an unmatched sense of accountability; you get to know your professors very well, making disappearing into the crowd impossible. There’s no auditorium seating here, you’re front and center, and your professors are putting all their efforts into your success, since you not only represent them, but the school as well. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Through various conversations, Dr. Rebecca Lidstrom taught me a lot about mindset, study habits and academic professionalism during my time at ASU. Dr. Lidstrom sets a great example for her students and expects a lot in return. If you meet her challenges head on, she simply demands more and more from you.  This may not sound appealing to many students, but it is exactly what I needed. I can graduate feeling truly proud of the work I’ve put in to achieve this degree in high standings, and I will carry these lessons to my future endeavors.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: For younger students, especially those wanting to go on to graduate programs, remember that your professional reputation begins now. Set yourself up for success in the future. This means maintaining a good GPA, staying organized, deciding when you’re going to study and for how long, sacrificing now to reap the benefits later.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The student center and the LRC were both places I frequented for studying or hanging out. I definitely took advantage of the LRC whiteboards to prepare myself and my peers for upcoming exams. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan is to attend and graduate from physical therapy school.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I don’t believe any one problem on our planet could be solved by throwing money at it, but I would probably fund research in newer and promising avenues of the health sciences. 

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