Erin Rolle is the internship experiences coordinator for the Department of Health Sciences, a position she has held for one year following her initial employment as the part-time interim coordinator. In this role, she helps students in Health Sciences find meaningful internship experiences that align with their long-term career goals. With over 3,900 students in the major, it’s no easy feat to seek out community partners to take all the students wanting an internship experience, especially during COVID-19. But Rolle has grown the internship site options to over 50 community partners and placed 29 students in internship experiences this past semester.
Learn more about Rolle and the important work she does below.
How did you come into your position?
As a UCF alumna, my heart bleeds black and gold. I graduated from UCF in 2006 with my bachelor’s degree in sports and fitness. I returned to UCF for graduate school and earned my doctorate in physical therapy in 2010. After working in Orlando as a physical therapist for seven years, I was hired into a faculty position with the Physical Therapy Program in 2017. I was there for only a couple of years when my husband and I made the decision to move to Tampa to be near family. It was difficult to give up my role at UCF because I loved working with the students and the exceptional faculty and team. When a position that allowed for remote work opened up within the Department of Health Sciences, I was thrilled because I love being part of what is happening at UCF.
Why are internship experiences important for students?
My role is to coordinate internship opportunities for students in the health sciences program. These internships are often the student’s first opportunity to get outside of the academic world and into a clinical setting to really see what life is like in the profession that they want to pursue. I enjoy being involved in the community to create partnerships and excellent learning experiences for our students.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
I really love getting to know the students, hearing how excited they are about their futures, and what they are learning in their internships. At the end of the semester, my favorite assignment to read is the intern’s reflection papers. I love hearing about what they learned and how they grew individually. That’s the whole point – to excite and inspire the interns to go forward and chase their dreams after graduation.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
One of my favorite activities is volunteering at our local YMCA where I teach spin classes for people with Parkinson’s disease. I also coach fitness classes for cancer survivors. It’s a way to keep my passion for physical therapy alive while I am not practicing in the clinic.
What is it like teaching spin classes for patients with Parkinson’s disease?
There is research that shows the fast movements in cycling can reduce some of the symptoms related to Parkinson’s Disease. Participating in the cycling classes empowers the participants to know that they are doing something to naturally improve their symptoms and benefit their quality of life in the long run. The challenges they face are so difficult, and yet the show up every day to improve their health and their future. The participants are so inspiring, I think I gain more out of the class than they do!
What are you most excited about for the future in your role?
With the formation of the College of Health Professions and Sciences, I witnessed a spirit of enhanced collaboration across units. Everyone is pushing for excellence. When you are surrounded by people colleagues working toward the same goal, the bar is elevated. I’m excited for the benefits this enhanced collaboration will bring to the students – especially regarding internships. Talking with other people in roles like mine across the college, we’re hoping to see more research and clinical opportunities for our students with the new hospital opening. These types of experiences offer unique opportunities for students to explore different career paths and to be inspired to chase big dreams.