March 23, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 53°F


Senior Spotlights: School of Health Sciences and Human Performance

Caitlyn McBride

Kristen Harrison/The Ithacan

Senior Caitlyn McBride, health science major with a planned clinical concentration, said she has always been attracted to working in the sciences. But when McBride attended doctor’s visits with a friend and saw the medical attention the doctors and nurses gave her friend, she knew she wanted to help other people stay healthy.

“It was like, ‘I want to do that,’” McBride said. “I want to give more people best friends.”

The decision to pursue health sciences — specifically, a planned clinical concentration with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant — was further cemented by McBride’s hands-on experiences at Ithaca College. She interned from junior to mid-senior year at Longview, the assisted living facility near campus, where she worked as a resident aide for a year and a half.

“You sit there in class and you learn about all these things, but then to actually do them was so rewarding,” she said. “I sit there and I learn about congestive heart failure, all the signs and symptoms, but then I can go and see it right there, like, ‘Oh, shortness of breath, now I’m treating a patient with shortness of breath.’”

McBride’s post-graduate career will start sooner than most — her P.A. program at Thomas Jefferson University starts just nine days after graduation — but she’s excited to start her career, especially after the experiences she’s had while in college.

“Grad school’s new, it’s going to be challenging, … but I’m excited for it because it’s going to set me up,” McBride said. “This is what I want to do. This is what I’ve been working for for so long.”


Noah Schaefer

Kristen Harrison/The Ithacan

Senior Noah Schaefer has always found solace in being outside, whether it was when he was working on an organic horticulture garden in Hawaii while in high school or taking part in the West Coast immersion semester with Outward Bound during his junior year.

“My high school years was when I really found the outdoors; I really started experiencing it and saw the restorative powers of it — physically, emotionally, mentally,” Schaefer said. “Once I figured out I could study it in a higher education setting, that’s what drew me here.”

Schaefer started his college career at Goucher College in Baltimore but transferred to Ithaca College after taking a year off in the middle of his sophomore year. He said that coming to the college and studying outdoor adventure leadership has allowed him to explore how he can help other people find the power of being outdoors.

Over the course of his college career, Schaefer has had opportunities to take his education into his own hands and help other students enjoy the outdoors, too. Schaefer has led numerous outdoor adventure trips for students, including athletic team retreats, Honors Program activities, first-year experience programs and more. One of his favorite trips has been taking students to Moss Island for outdoor rock climbing.

“It’s just really fun to take people who have never been outdoor climbing before to this spot where you’re touching real rock,” Schaefer said.

After graduation, Schaefer will be leading outdoor trips in the Pacific Northwest for the summer. He will be looking into seasonal work that will allow him to travel and rock climb. Above all, Schaefer is looking for an experience that will let him do what he loves.

“Just something that allows me to get outside in some sort of meaningful way with other people,” Schaefer said.


Jenna Supinski

Kristen Harrison/The Ithacan

During her time at Ithaca College, senior Jenna Supinski, speech-language pathology and audiology major, has thought about a lot of career paths: occupational therapy, physical therapy, even a long-time dream of being a teacher. But when she shadowed a speech pathologist during one of her classes, she quickly fell in love with the field.

“I think communication is the cornerstone of being human,” Supinski said. “So whether that be verbal communication or nonverbal, like using a speech-generating device, any form of communication is going to give you a better quality of life, and I really like being a part of that process.”

Supinski has been heavily involved with research during her college career — between clinical observations, hospital internships and independent study projects — but one experience that has been especially influential has been with Skott Jones, associate professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She and Jones have been studying optimal words for speech therapists to use with patients, and they plan on distributing a database of words to therapists across Tompkins County.

Supinski, who is minoring in neuroscience, said she wants to help others and also get a better understanding of how communication works.

“People don’t often connect those two because people always think, ‘Oh, speech-language pathology, you’re going to work in a school,’ but I really like the science behind it and what’s actually going on in a person’s brain,” Supinski said.

Next year, Supinski will be attending graduate school at Pennsylvania State University, where she will continue her speech-language pathology career and pursue more research opportunities.

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy