Convocation Profile: A chat with Jamie Raichel

Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate Jamie Raichel first began her student journey at MacEwan University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science. It was during a class one day in 2015 that Jamie realized that her true passion lies in the science of human movementwhich is very much in line with her passion for competitive cheerleadingand she made the decision to switch programs. The Sturgeon County, Alberta product transferred to the University of Alberta in 2017 along with a number of her classmatesall of whom have become life-long friendsdug into her studies and passions, and hasn’t looked back since.

Why did you choose to change degree programs and pursue a Bachelor of Kinesiology at the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation?

I grew up in the very high contact and high injury rate sport of cheerleading, and watched so many people I love experience injuries that were never rehabilitated properly and are still causing them issues to this day. After experiencing a pretty bad concussion in 2015, I was in a biology lab at MacEwan looking through a dissecting scope when I realized I was not going to be fulfilled by a biology degree and instead decided to pursue rehabilitation medicine. I knew a kinesiology degree would be a better preparation for a masters in physiotherapy, and I began the process of transferring programs.

On top of your studies, you are very active in the cheerleading community. Can you tell us about your involvement with and passion for cheerleading? 

I started cheerleading in eighth grade at Steele Heights Junior High and fell in love with the sport. It taught me a level of confidence I didn’t know I was capable of achieving and introduced me to a family who has supported me throughout all aspects of life. The cheerleading community is so inclusive and really fosters teamwork, progressive growth in skill, and growth of your character, which are all transferable skills for real life scenarios. 

After junior high I joined Alberta Cheer Empire on a competitive all-star cheerleading team. I am what they call a “base” because I throw the flyer in the air for acrobatic tricks. I progressed through the levels each year, earning myself a spot on a world championship level team in 2015. I then competed at the Cheerleading World Championships for five straight years (2015 to 2019). Unfortunately, our qualification to Worlds this year was halted due to COVID-19 and cancellation of the event.  

I am a leader on my team as I have spent 11 years in the sport and I have had the wonderful opportunity to help guide younger athletes through their cheerleading careers. I have also coached all-star cheerleading since 2016. Coaching has taught me so much about building relationships with youth and being a positive role model in their lives. Some of my friends say that it seems like cheerleading is my life, but it truly makes me happy and allows me an outlet from the stresses in my life.

You also held a job with the City of Edmonton while in school working through a full course load. What was your job and how did you balance work, cheerleading, coaching and school work? 

I work at recreation centers as a customer service representative, but I also am certified as a lifeguard. I work approximately 20-25 hours a week with the City of Edmonton on top of the two to three evenings a week for cheer and coaching, not missing a practice in eight years. I also live approximately an hour driving from campus. Time management is a skill I had no choice but to hone throughout my university experience. Prioritizing is key, and the different aspects of my life deserve different levels of attention based on the time of year. When I set my mind to something it’s near impossible for me to give less than my whole effort. I study efficiently and will crack down close to exam time. I wake up REALLY early when I know I won’t have time for school work after class due to other commitments. It’s hard to answer how I did it, because I just did—I knew what had to be done and just did it.

What motivates you to work so hard?

I am fulfilled by the accomplishment I feel after achieving a goal. When I achieve a certain goal I set my sights onto another bigger goal. I also want to help people live healthier lives and I know that my goals and achievements will help me do that. 

Where did you do your practicum and what did your role entail?

My practicum placement was at Pivotal Physiotherapy’s High Performance Center. I worked as a kinesiologist in the clinic, which is similar to a physiotherapy aid but we took a very active role in exercise prescription of patients. Shout out to Pivotal for being an incredible team and for teaching me so much! Can’t wait to get back to work with them when restrictions are lifted! 

You and your graduating classmates are experiencing Convocation like no other students have before you. What are some thoughts and/or feelings you have about convocating during a pandemic?

It breaks my heart to have to convocate in such an unstable global situation. It’s difficult to be excited about such an accomplishment when our world is working so hard to fight this virus and mourn the loss of so many lives. It makes our futures much less certain and a little bit scary, but I know we are equipped to be successful no matter where our paths may lead. 

With that all being said, I am looking forward to the next stage of my life. Given our current situation, I may pursue my Masters in Physical Therapy this Fall, or I may take a year off to explore life and other opportunities. My job with the City of Edmonton has room to grow with my degree and that’s a great option as well.

What are you most proud of in your journey as a KSR student?

I am most proud of the bonds I have created with my peers throughout this experience. I met some of my best friends through my undergrad program, and I am so lucky to have them by my side no matter what life has in store. I am also very proud of my academic accomplishment of being on the Dean’s List all five years of my degree. 

To future students who may want to pursue a degree in the KSR faculty—you will have the time of your life! Take the leap and do it. You won’t regret it!