Convocation Profile: Morgan Strynadka

If you’ve frequented the halls of the Van Vliet Complex much over the past five years, you have probably seen Morgan Strynadka in at least one part of the complex or another. The Bachelor of Kinesiology student (soon to be graduate) has taken full advantage of her undergraduate experience at the University of Alberta through volunteering and representing the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation (KSR) at any opportunity that presented itself.

Following in her mother’s footsteps—who completed her nursing diploma at the University of Alberta—Morgan knew she found her fit with KSR when she decided to pursue her undergraduate degree in kinesiology. While first entering into the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program, the national-stream synchronized swimmer decided to change her degree to a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a coaching major in mind.

“I developed a love for coaching and athletic training in high school thanks to my experiences as a synchronized swimmer, and I knew that both the science behind the human body and coaching was what I really wanted to pursue. I knew I was very fortunate to be able to attend a top school and faculty in Canada while I pursued my passion, all while staying in my home city.”

Morgan’s diversity of interest and commitment to her community is a contributing factor to her heavy participation in KSR, Campus & Community Recreation (CCR), and U of A student opportunities. She immediately joined the U of A Synchro Club through CCR’s Club Sport program and thrived. Her second year on the team saw her take on the role of president of the club, which helped solidify her commitment to sport leadership and coaching. 

Already very much enthralled with KSR and the University of Alberta, Morgan volunteered for the U of A’s Week of Welcome—an annual event held in early September and hosted by the U of A Student’s Unionand eventually became KSR’s faculty facilitator for the following year. While the position was a lot of work, Morgan thoroughly enjoyed being one of the first faces incoming KSR students got to know.

“I loved volunteering for Week of Welcome and being an ambassador for KSR. It was awesome to know I was helping to create the sense of camaraderie and friendship KSR is known for!”

While Morgan thoroughly enjoyed her volunteer position for Week of Welcome, she knew that in the later years of her degree, she was going to have to focus her time and energy on opportunities that will help her pursue a future career. The coaching major requires students to complete three practicums at different levels of coaching in their sport throughout the year that can take up significant time. Morgan spent one of her last practicums as an assistant coach for the 2018 Junior Team Alberta where she travelled to Toronto for a major summer competition, SYNC, which is one  of her most memorable experiences to-date.

“My time with Team Alberta was awesome. I absolutely love coaching and being able to create a lasting impact on youth through sport. The practicum opportunities and the coaching classes I took within my degree have inspired the way I think about not only coaching, but about school, research, and leadership.”

Just when you think Morgan couldn't possibly have more time to take on anything else, she took keen interest in research mid-degree after attending a guest lecture from KSR associate professor Margie Davenport. Not wanting to waste a second, Morgan approached Dr. Davenport and asked if she had any volunteer opportunities for undergraduates interested in research. Dr. Davenport, who is a huge supporter of undergraduate research, welcomed Morgan to her Program for Pregnancy and Postpartum Health with open arms. 

Being interested in women’s health—particularly in the world of exercise—Morgan fit right in with Dr. Davenport’s team, and has experienced much success. Morgan was the recipient of a number of undergraduate research awards and scholarships including a 2020 Undergraduate Research Initiative Summer Studentship. Thanks to the studentship, Morgan is spending the summer exploring the health impacts and experiences of exercise in women carrying multiple babies (twins, triplets or more).

“My research experience has been incredible. I’ve been given so many opportunities to grow and develop my research skills. I was so lucky to find myself in Dr. Davenport’s lab at the same time as a then new postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Meah, who really took me under her wing to mentor me. Between both of these amazing women, I have really found a love of research”

As Morgan gets set to convocate this June, she leaves her undergraduate degree program with a toolbelt full of skills she never thought she would have had before starting her journey with the U of A and KSR. 

“I’m very proud and appreciative of all the opportunities I have been able to take advantage of while pursuing my BKin degree. I took five years to complete my degree in order to accommodate all these activities, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I would greatly encourage anyone who wants to be more involved to remember that these opportunities are fleeting; get your full university experience in before you’re done!”