Hear from alumni of Azusa Pacific’s graduate physical education programs and how they are applying their degrees to make a difference in their career fields. Read their stories and then learn more about the diverse career opportunities available in physical education, fitness, and sports.

Educators in Physical Education

“The APE authorization is a great program. It exposed me to many different students with disabilities and how best to include them in the general PE setting. I believe all students have the same needs. It is up to the educator to provide the environment where they all participate and grow. The experience and methods I learned have made me more confident in working with these students. I also feel more confident in communicating and pushing students with disabilities to do what I know they can do.” – Gregg Dalton, M.A. ’19, junior high physical education teacher

“The field of adapted physical education is truly rewarding. You get to know your students at a more personable level, help them achieve their goals, advocate for their rights, and make a difference in their physical education. It is a career that requires you to think critically and outside the box, be creative and patient, and most importantly, have fun. Not every day is the same, but one thing for sure is how rewarding it feels to see your students smile and make improvements.” – Margarita Pulido, M.A. ’19, adapted physical education teacher, Anaheim Elementary School District

“The M.A. in Physical Education and Single Subject Teaching Credential provided me with the knowledge and understanding of being an effective physical educator. During my student teaching, I spent time gaining valuable experience at a middle school in Yucaipa. It was there that I developed an understanding of students’ perspectives towards physical education. I came to realize that many students enjoyed playing sports and being active, but a large number disliked PE, and so I wanted to investigate the motivational factors which affected students’ performance in PE. The outcome of my capstone project helped me determine aspects of PE that middle school students liked and disliked and the influence that PE teachers had on students’ performance during lessons. It also helped me identify ways in which classes could be improved from the students’ perspectives to ultimately increase their motivation to perform.” – Lee Cartwright, M.A.’19, substitute PE teacher at Park View Middle School in Yucaipa, California and coaches the JV girls soccer team at Yucaipa High School

“The field of adapted physical education begins with a passion and drive to serve people in need. Having an attitude of support to serve our children certainly helps in the beginning steps to become a teacher. Having an M.A. in Physical Education has opened many doors for me in a variety of career opportunities to demonstrate knowledge in the aspects of physical education as well as program development and management.” – Johnny Wiley, M.A. ’19, adapted physical education teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District

“The master’s degree program was a great source of information and I still refer to some of the projects I did to help me now when I am teaching. I was able to get my dream career because of the help, support, and encouragement by those in the program! The most rewarding aspect of what I do is supporting students and student-athletes. College is an important time of growing and learning in a young person’s life and it is a blessing to be able to be a part of their journey.” – Lani Ruh, M.S. ’17, kinesiology professor and assistant men’s and women’s water polo and swimming coach, Mt. San Antonio College

“Through the Adapted Physical Education Added Authorization program at APU, I learned more about the field of adapted physical education and special education in the public education system. I gained a deeper understanding of education codes, laws, and rights pertaining to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. APU’s program also prepared me for performing assessments, writing goals and objectives, and attending IEP meetings. I look forward to working with my adapted physical education students every day. It is very rewarding when you see a student make progress towards their goals!” – Kristy Puckett, M.A. ’15, adapted physical education specialist and girls’ volleyball coach at South El Monte High School

“I am lucky to have had many great professors during my years at Azusa Pacific University. It is through their guidance, experience and direction that I have developed the teaching philosophy I have today. I have learned that it is important to exercise a person's mind, body, and spirit together, and I believe that the health of the body is as essential as the health of the mind and spirit. By developing one we keep the other healthy.” – Kieu Hua, M.S. ’14, physical education teacher, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

“The adapted physical education program at APU was a remarkable experience. I was able to gather skills and knowledge from several APE specialists who had many years of prior experience in the field. In addition, these professionals were able to provide incredible feedback during student teaching experience that allowed me to flourish as a future APE specialist. This field has taught me patience, endurance, and flexibility. I have become a better teacher and a better person because I am able to learn from my students on a daily basis. My students are very important to me, and I enjoy sharing their successes and watching them excel beyond their current levels.” – Shirley Jean, M.A. ’12, Adapted Physical Education Specialist, San Bernardino City Unified School District; Adapted Physical Education Specialist Manager at EMH Sports

Athletic Coaches and Trainers

“In the field of physical education, sport science, coaching, and strength and conditioning, the hours on the field or in the classroom or in the gym are incredibly important in order to get experience. Besides the information from research articles, books, and other sources, the day-to-day job and being hands-on is what truly helps in terms of becoming a better professional who better understands the dynamics of athletes, teams, and group training.” – Pedro Romero-Nieva Santos, M.S. ’18, L.A. Galaxy Academy Strength and Conditioning Coach, and U15 Head Coach

“The master’s in physical education program at Azusa Pacific equipped me with the knowledge, resources, network, and confidence to be successful as I continue to pursue teaching and coaching at the community college level. This program is thorough and well rounded, leaving the graduate confident in their ability to be a difference-maker in their community, and in the lives of those whom they serve. One bit of advice would be to find a mentor. A college coach who has been successful at the level of your interest can be an invaluable resource who can help you navigate the beginning of your career.” – Kody Moffatt, M.S. ’19, Adjunct Faculty/Head Coach Men’s Water Polo, Palomar College

“The most rewarding and challenging aspects of my job are working with a very diverse population. I love working at the community college because we have students of all ages, abilities, cultures, ethnicities, and religions, and I feel honored to get to work with all of them. It forces me to think outside my box, allows me to open up my worldview and helps me create a culture of understanding.” – Deborah Hefter, M.S. ’16, aquatics director and adjunct professor, Pierce College

“The M.S. in Physical Education program equipped me with the administrative knowledge that is a necessity to know as an athletics staff member. For example, knowledge regarding athletics law, event planning, and safety. The Sports Management program also gave me the opportunity to do research. Starting the program I was very nervous about having to complete a research project on my own, however I ended up really enjoying the process and was fully supported by my professors in the program. I was able to investigate a topic that I was invested in which really opened my eyes to what I could do with research in the future.– Rachelle Cyrus, M.S. ’19, assistant athletic trainer, Azusa Pacific University

“The M.S. in Physical Education gave me technical knowledge pertaining to physiology, athletic training, movement patterns, and injury prevention that has proven to be helpful in my success. Also, I was fortunate enough to use several of the projects from my time at APU in my professional endeavors. I used a curriculum project as the guidelines for a baseball training class. I used an emergency procedure plan and safety presentation in my work with a local community college baseball team.” – Dan Keller, M.S. ’15, CEO of Dugout Captain

Getting my master’s degree at APU was the most valuable professional decision I made. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Every course I took at APU was extremely relevant to my current position. The classes prepared me for the administrative, psychological and technical aspects of coaching at this level. By far, the most rewarding aspects of this position are the relationships I have with my players and alumni. There is no better feeling then seeing my players succeed on and off the field and being able to continue to be part of their lives when they leave Notre Dame.” – Deanna Gumpf, M.S. ’97, head softball coach, University of Notre Dame Athletics

Athletic Directors and Administrators

“At the community college level, there is typically only one athletic director. It is a dynamic position managing all aspects of a large program with a lot constantly going on. The most rewarding aspect for me in my position is seeing our student athletes successfully transfer to a four year university or come back years later with a degree and starting a successful career. It is also very rewarding to mentor young coaches and help them develop their craft.” – Randy Tortop, M.A. ’01, director of athletics, Long Beach Community College

Corporate Health and Wellness

“APU’s master’s program taught me the importance of helping motivate others toward bettering themselves and obtaining their buy-in to goals and objectives. Providing both objective and subjective measures of success and applauding all advancements have helped significantly in obtaining an ‘all in’ commitment from our employees and clients. Furthermore, I leverage daily the learned trait of flexibility with my clients to maximize their participation and satisfaction levels. When you witness transformational physical wellness change in a client who now has enhanced self-esteem and renewed energy you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment.” – TJ Merritt, M.S. ’14, program manager, EXOS-Alexandria

Note: This information is current for the 2021-22 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.