June 03, 2024

A winning approach to higher education

Mackenzie Vajda '25
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Mackenzie Vajda stands out on the football field in her cheerleading uniform at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.The cost of college can be daunting, but if you take advantage of opportunities to reduce it, you can be on a path to earning a degree that will change your future

Growing up in Harrisburg, Pa., I always knew that I was going to go to college. I doubted whether I was ready, which was why community college was the right first step for me.

Community college helped me transition from being a high school student to a young adult. I learned what it was like to live on my own and prioritize my time. I also learned how to manage the workload and the expectations of my professors.

When I was ready to transfer to a four-year college, Indiana University of Pennsylvania stood out to me because of its bachelor’s degree in pre-athletic training and the 3+2 option offered through the master’s program. The option would save me time and reduce the total cost of my education by allowing me to begin working on my master’s degree — a requirement in this field — while finishing my bachelor’s.

The transition from community college to IUP wasn’t hard at all. I found a lot of places on campus where I could get help and learn more about what university has to offer. People were reaching out to me constantly, asking if I needed anything. The faculty and staff at IUP genuinely want to see me succeed.

Mackenzie Vajda watches from the sidelines at a football game at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.Outside of the classroom, joining the cheer team allowed me to build a stronger connection with campus and my classmates. It was one of the best decisions that I have made because of all the people that it brought into my life and the positive experiences I’ve had so far.

In the fall, I will begin an internship for academic credit at IUP. I have also completed fieldwork at high schools in my hometown during breaks. With each opportunity, I learn more about what it will take to be an athletic trainer.

Taking the path from community college to IUP was a winning approach for me. I would not be where I am today without everyone who believed in me and encouraged my passion for sports and helping others to achieve their own victories.

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