Mitch Stephenson aspires to be a university professor of biomechanics. When he isn't studying, he enjoys indoor exercises, motorcycle riding, and building/restoring items like furniture and vintage stereos.
Mitch Stephenson expands his opportunities by taking courses outside his major
Sticking to just the required courses to complete his doctorate in kinesiology is not in Mitch’s education plan.
“I live by the mantra that my parents raised me on: I need to be the best that I can be, no matter the environment,” said Mitch. “So I immerse myself in interesting coursework, intensive research programs, and service positions to round out my experience and expertise.”
While completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Mitch started asking questions his major was simply not answering. By the time he came to Iowa State University in the fall of 2015 Mitch broadened his knowledge from a focus on biomechanics and motor control in kinesiology to areas of statistics, engineering, and even computer science.
“The core kinesiology classes across my three degrees gave me the foundation, and these electives have allowed me to build an interesting niche expertise,” he said.
This expansion of knowledge has lead to diversifying Mitch’s research areas which began during his undergrad.
“My latest classes have been offering a lot of new information that have changed how I look at my research,” he said. “It’s a neat experience that continuously pushes me out of my comfort zone.”
Not only has Mitch’s research broadened, his opportunities for his future have as well.
“I started traveling internationally for coursework and conferences, to Sweden, Portugal, and Australia,” he said. “Some of the additional research I do with the military has taken me to the UK, Germany, and I’m coordinating a trip to France right now.”
While Mitch enjoys his travel experience he also takes pride in the work he does for the federal government.
“There’s a lot of networking with meeting new people in new settings,” he said. “This opens your eyes to a lot of new ways to see things and new ways to view projects.”
Mitch still plans on furthering his studies with industrial engineering and psychology, hoping to find even more ways to diversify his research techniques. It’s not always easy to find the connection between different subjects; however, Mitch stresses how important it is to incorporate new topics into your own major.
“You have to do the work to make [different courses] applicable,” he said. “It takes effort, but the rewards are gargantuan.”