Imagine walking into the Science & Learning Center on your way to class, getting to the elevator, and actually stepping into it in less than five minutes. That would be just short of a miracle. You get to class and someone tells you all about the stairs they just walked up: eye-catching because they are brightly painted and decorated all the way up to the fifth floor. After class, you decide to take the stairs to see what the hype is about. Congratulations! You have just inadvertently contributed to helping a disabled or injured student get to class on time, all thanks to an idea that fourth-year Kinesiology major Gabriel Pridgen-Daniels and his advisor, Lecturer of Kinesiology Melanie Householder, came up with.

The recently renovated, Science Learning Center.

Obviously, this is not currently plausible due to COVID-19, but Pridgen-Daniels would still like to see it happen. He is very passionate about human health (and giving disabled or injured students an opportunity to get to class on time, given the one elevator in the SLC compared to the three sets of stairs). Pridgen-Daniels does not believe that humans have discovered their body’s full potential, so his current (and likely future) research focuses on our body’s limits. Pridgen-Daniels’ senior project is centered around the correlation between music and long-distance running. Alone, running has numerous health benefits, and music is a natural mood-booster. Music helps distract from the pain the body feels while working out and allows a person to go harder and longer when they are exercising. Both music and long-distance running have positive influences on one’s emotional state: anger and sadness, for example, can be alleviated by listening to music and going on a run. Pridgen-Daniels plans on exploring this further as he expands his research.

 

First, though, Pridgen-Daniels intends on joining the Navy SEALs which he is currently training for. He is learning how to improve his athleticism, what the Navy SEAL life is like, and what to expect once he joins. “Navy SEALs are hardcore people, [but] these people are really nice and understanding,” he said, especially in reference to the former Navy SEALs he converses with as he trains. “The funny thing is: I never wanted to do any type of military until I joined,” said Pridgen-Daniels. He originally went to the recruiting office just to talk to the Navy SEAL team, but they told him his mindset was fit for a Navy SEAL, which, for Pridgen-Daniels, entails not giving up no matter what and achieving any goal he sets up for himself. “Anything I tell anyone I’m going to do, I’m going to do it. I’m going to become a high school teacher,” he insisted.

The current plan Pridgen-Daniels has set up is to get his Ph.D and Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and Education, with the intention to teach high school later in his life and partake in research throughout his career as both a Navy SEAL, a graduate student, and a high school teacher. At first, Pridgen-Daniels did not want to get his Ph.D, but he soon decided he wanted to be a published author and otherwise well-known in the Kinesiology world. He hopes, in the future, that professional athletes will take interest in and work with him, for his research will continue to focus on the endurance of the body and better understanding human anatomy overall.

Pridgen-Daniels even considered the possibility of becoming a college professor one day, but he is still unsure about taking that path. He would rather focus on teaching leadership in high school. “Leading can be taught. Some people have the natural ability [to lead, but] we’re losing that natural talent of leading as the generations [progress],” he said. He’s also considering being a Physical Education teacher, and a coach for a high school football team.

Following graduation this coming May, Pridgen-Daniels has a pretty set plan to achieve his goals in place. His ship out date for the Navy SEALs is in July; he will be participating in a boot camp (called BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) that has a six-year minimum contract. During that time, he wants to work on his Master’s Degree with the intention of finishing it before his six years with the Navy SEALs are up. He then wants to become an officer, already thinking far ahead enough to cover his children medically and financially by being a Navy SEAL officer for 20 years. Following this, when, as he predicts, he is in his 40s, he would like to become a high school teacher. “I don’t know if I ever want to retire,” said Pridgen-Daniels. He plans on conducting research he has already started for his senior project until he just cannot do work anymore.

Pridgen-Daniels appreciates Whittier College, thinking it to be a “dope” school. He is particularly impressed by the professors, all of which, he said, have helped him through his college journey. His advisor, Professor Householder, was especially helpful. She introduced him to the women’s shelter he volunteered at, and, together, they came up with the idea to paint the SLC’s stairs—which they figured an art student may be able to do for their senior project.

He was originally interested in the SLC, which was a new installment of WC the year before he enrolled. He had the opportunity to get into other D2, D3, and even D1 schools, but in addition to a football scholarship, he chose Whittier College because he was impressed with the networking opportunities, and the excitement of a brand new building. He believes he made the right choice.

Pridgen-Daniels had some parting words for fellow students at the College: “I hope everyone does well. Keep it up. Stay safe out there.” He also wants to encourage everyone to get involved in volunteer work, and he cites Professor Householder, mhouseholder@whittier.edu, as a great source to start getting involved.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of taskandpurpose.com

Author

  • Brianna Wilson is an English major who has been with the Quaker Campus since her first year at Whittier College. In-between work and school, Brianna loves journaling, working out, and watching YouTube videos (mostly from the gaming community).

Brianna Wilson is an English major who has been with the Quaker Campus since her first year at Whittier College. In-between work and school, Brianna loves journaling, working out, and watching YouTube videos (mostly from the gaming community).

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