Kinesiology Students Graduate with Advanced Credentials

Written By: Heather Lovett | May 6, 2024

Jackson Luberto, Jaelyn Jenkins and Antonio Giannini headshots
Jackson Luberto, Jaelyn Jenkins and Antonio Giannini obtained national industry certifications prior to graduating with bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology in Spring 2024.

Several students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology this spring have already passed national examinations and obtained key industry certifications by the time they cross the commencement stage. It’s part of a new initiative that calls for students to obtain one of 12 certifications the Division of Kinesiology has classified as gold, silver or bronze standards. The program is designed to better prepare students for a broad range of careers in health and wellness and position them as strong applicants for graduate programs.


“Gold level” certifications include the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM EP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA CSCS). Other certifications include credentials like certified sports nutritionist, certified personal trainer and certified group exercise instructor.


The four students who passed gold level tests are:
Mitchell Dressler — ACSM – Certified Exercise Physiologist;
Antonio Giannini — ACSM – Certified Exercise Physiologist;
Jaelyn Jenkins — ACSM – Certified Exercise Physiologist; and
Jackson Luberto — NCSA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.


Six additional students passed silver and bronze level tests.


The 10 students are the first to meet new program guidelines that call for undergraduate kinesiology students to pass a certification exam in their last semester to graduate. The requirement began with students who entered the program in Fall 2022.


Jackson Luberto, who plans to become a personal trainer and specialize in working with outdoor athletes, says preparing for the exam was a rigorous process, but he felt ready. “The certification is looked at in such high regard within the industry,” Luberto says. Without it, “I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I do now, and I don’t think I would be able to go into this industry confidently.”


In subsequent semesters, as more students move through the program, even larger groups of students will graduate with certifications, leaving UCF better prepared to meet workforce demands. More than 300 students earn bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology each year.


Industry certifications are valuable since many jobs in the profession require additional training and certification beyond a bachelor’s degree, says Lecturer and Undergraduate Program Coordinator Alison Redd. “Our industry is upping their standards as far as educational requirements and credentials to work with both athletic and special populations, like patients with cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure,” Redd says. “We want to ensure our degree program provides a proper education, plus the required credentials, so that when students apply for jobs or graduate programs, they will be the most desirable candidates.”


Students graduating from UCF with degrees in kinesiology enter a wide variety of careers in medicine and clinical healthcare, sports and fitness, and research and academia. Many pursue graduate degrees in occupational therapy, physical therapy or athletic training. Starting this year, graduates have the opportunity to extend their training through the newly implemented Master of Science in Kinesiology – Clinical Exercise Physiology Track, which focuses on the use of exercise in improving the lives of individuals with chronic diseases, conditions, and comorbidities.


“All of these certifications will be valuable for students going out to the field or applying for graduate programs,” says Redd. “We want to offer what most employees and admissions boards look for on resumes. We also want to give students options for credentials because this career field is extremely diverse.”



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