It’s senior week, and we are highlighting some of the members of the Class of 2023 as part of our #HumansOfLongwood series. Wherever life after Longwood takes them—a new job, graduate studies or an internship—these students reflect the goals and achievements made possible in a close-knit community that promotes student involvement, values inclusion and nurtures citizen leadership in whatever form it takes.

Jacob Barker ’23
HOMETOWN: Drakes Branch, Virginia

MAJOR: Kinesiology with concentration in applied health sciences
WHAT'S NEXT: Working as a physical therapy tech before applying to doctoral programs in physical therapy

Over my four years at Longwood, I have grown to love our tight-knit community. When I arrived as a freshman, I was unsure of what career path I wanted to pursue. Now, as I prepare to graduate, I feel confident I can take on any challenges that come my way. The memories, special bonds and meaningful relationships I have gained I am certain will last far beyond graduation. I am extremely thankful to the faculty and staff for helping me gain the knowledge I need and set major aspirations for the future, and for allowing me to discover who I am truly meant to be.

I spent much of my free time at Longwood running, and I have developed a great passion for running marathons. I completed my first marathon as a freshman, finishing the 2019 Richmond Marathon with a time of 3:33:00. I qualified for both the 2022 New York City Marathon and 2023 Boston Marathon. I finished the race in New York, but fell far short of my goal with a time of 3:09:44. I then consulted with my friend Noel Preece ’22, who has been coaching me since December. With his knowledge of endurance training and my determination, we set a goal that I would have an amazing performance in Boston. I ran the 127th Boston Marathon in April, and I exceeded my expectations—running a finishing time of 2:42:26 and finishing 804th overall of 26,604 total finishers!

The faculty in the kinesiology program have truly helped sharpen my passion for the world of exercise. Tena Ewing and Alicia Peterson have been among my favorite professors, always offering a helping hand through my busiest times and showing passion and enthusiasm for what they teach. When I ran the New York City Marathon, Tena had the students in my sports nutrition class sign a good luck card for me. Although my classmates weren’t able to come along to support me, having them wish me the best meant the world and demonstrated the love the Longwood community has shown me over the past four years.

I am a member of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars and have served as a student tutor for kinesiology and as the president of the Association of Medical and Professional Kinesiology, an organization I am proud to have helped grow and double in membership over the past two semesters. The most memorable part of all my academic endeavors was completing lab activities in the Biomechanics Lab in Allen Hall. Having a passion for running and exercise in general, I loved all the equipment available in the lab to conduct exercise tests and learn more about our physiologies and physical capabilities. I had the opportunity to complete a treadmill VO2max test, which is often used by runners to learn about their aerobic capacities and overall fitness going into performances. Since I began running eight years ago, I always dreamed of completing this test with professional equipment, so it was a dream come true.

I eventually plan to become a licensed physical therapist, and I am quite excited about what lies ahead. As someone who is passionate about helping others rehabilitate and heal, I would love to help people develop a love for exercise and “getting around” as I have over the past several years.

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