Academic Programs / Social Justice

Sport and Health Perspective: Making the Academic Actionable

Daniel Janik

Daniel Janik is a first-year student in the Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization in Sport and Health program at Adler University. Janik shares his experiences and insights about the mission-driven perspective of the sport and health program, along with how he takes social justice action as a member of the Adler community.

I cannot think of a college student who would say they are never busy. Learning is a challenging and time-consuming process, especially at the graduate level, and Adler University is no exception. With all the demands of earning a counseling degree and becoming proficient in mental skills consulting, I could easily be consumed by only study and gaining knowledge. However, I have learned that increasing my academic intelligence is only one facet of being a successful student and future practitioner.

We could call the sport and health program at Adler an experiential program, but I would go even further: It is a learn-how-to-do-and-doing program. Intelligence is not all knowledge and being analytical; it has a practical component as well. When we see an injustice, we want to confront it and extend feasible, long-lasting solutions. We have taken on a successful intelligence model: Analyzing the core problem and developing creative yet practical solutions to very complex and deep-rooted societal injustices such as racism, sexism, and unethical policy in existing sport organizations.

In my program, I am not just encouraged to increase my repertoire of theories – I’m also encouraged to take action. Adler University’s sport and health program creates a yearly theme to promote our values. This year, our theme is summed up by a quote: “We will find a way, or we will make one.” In the month of March alone, we created a sport advocacy awareness campaign, which included wellness classes, panels, selling fundraiser T-shirts to support professional development, prepping to run a 5K for World Health, and presenting posters on advocacy for needed change among different sport organizations.

These are the values Adler University and its sport and health program have instilled: I must not fear being an advocate—change sometimes takes courage and risks; we are capable of learning how to tackle a problem, not just learn about a problem; we are capable of making and creating change; and intelligence is not just defined by academic success.

If true success is measured in real, concrete results, then I cannot just be a student academically. My program teaches that just earning a diploma and a certification is not enough. Pieces of paper will not, on their own, be fulfilling or create social transformation—I have to take action as well, to find a way or make one.