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Department of Kinesiology

2020-2021 AWARDS
We congratulate our undergraduate and graduate students on their many successes!

26th Annual Kinesiology Awards Recognition

Welcome from the Chairperson

Professional Achievement Award – Dr. Marita Gilbert

Dr. Marita Gilbert serves as Associate Dean of Diversity & Campus Inclusion in the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Gilbert has dedicated her life to advocacy for the most marginalized and vulnerable populations through leadership, scholarship, and practice. Her passion for transforming communities and institutions has guided over 20 years of progressive experience in higher education, serving in faculty and administrative roles ranging from athletics to senior leadership. 

As the associate dean, Dr. Gilbert oversees diversity efforts on all three campuses of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and works directly with the Dean–providing influence and guidance over areas of college climate to include faculty mentoring in the areas of equity and inclusion, leading oversight of elections for college and university committees, advising the College Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure (RPT) process, and developing cohesive and visible community partnerships and engaging in local outreach efforts. 

Dr. Gilbert is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and is proud to call it home—wherever she finds herself. Its rich and nuanced cultural heritage is the lens through which she understands and implements inclusive practice.

Dr. Gilbert earned a BA in Mass Communications from Auburn University and PhD in Kinesiology with concentrations in the Sociology of Sport and College Teaching and Learning as well as a specialization in Black Feminisms from Michigan State University.

Outstanding Doctoral Student Award – Jill Kochanek

Jill Kochanek is a doctoral candidate in the Psychosocial Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity concentration with a sub-specialty in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research and applied work coheres around intersections between sport and social justice issues. Through her integrative research line, Jill critically examines status quo sport dynamics and their possible marginalizing effects. She also explores how youth and adult leaders can develop critical awareness and skills to promote diversity and inclusion through athletics. Jill’s research has resulted in 6 first author peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 book chapters, and several other papers submitted or in progress. Jill was recently recognized by the American Kinesiology Association as the 2021 National Doctoral Scholar Award winner for her scholarship.

Jill is also a passionate teacher and scholar of teaching and learning. She was 1 of 6 graduate students awarded MSU’s university-wide Excellence-In-Teaching Citation. She has taught core Kinesiology courses in sport psychology and sociology, motor development, and physical activity/health education for teachers at the undergraduate and master’s levels. Outside the traditional classroom, she received an Inclusive Excellence Grant from MSU’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives to develop and implement a multi-session cultural competence module for athletic training majors and evaluate the newly-developed curriculum.

Jill is heavily involved in numerous community outreach initiatives at the policy/organizational level (as a research assistant for Michigan Governor Whitmer’s state-wide Task Force on Women in Sport and diversity facilitator with the national non-profit, Ross Initiative in Sport for Equality [RISE]) and at the frontline practitioner level as a high school girls’ and boys’ soccer and mental skills coach and coach developer locally for sport organizations.

Jill is eager to continue her work as a critical sport teacher-scholar-practitioner at Springfield College where she will serve as the director of the Master’s Program in Athletic Leadership in the School of Physical Education, Performance, and Sport Leadership.

Jill Kochanek

Outstanding Master’s Student Award – Guilherme Costa

Guilherme Hebling Costa is a second-year master’s student in the psychosocial aspects of sport and physical activity concentration. Working under the advisement of Dr. Karl Erickson, he has been involved in research projects ranging from the developmental processes of children’s active play, effective coaching of young children, and socioeconomic influences on youth sport participation, to exploring youth skateboard culture in his native Brazil. Furthermore, Guilherme has been a volunteer at MSU’s Adaptive Sports and Recreation Club, which has also resulted in a research project investigating volunteers’ experiences within the program.
His master’s thesis focused on exploring how parental involvement in youth sports provides them opportunities to enhance their social capital through interactions with other adults, as well as the parent-child relationship. His thesis and other projects have been presented at conferences, such as the Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium and the Eastern Canada Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium. In addition to this thesis, he has led or been significantly involved in four journal articles currently either submitted or in preparation for submission for publication. He looks forwards to further exploring the influence of different social agents, specifically parents and coaches, on young athlete’s development through a relational-developmental systems perspective at Queen’s University in Canada, where he will begin his PhD this fall.


Outstanding Senior Award – Anthony Mrocko

Anthony Mrocko is a senior in the Department of Kinesiology pursuing a career as a physician. Along with a truly impressive GPA, Anthony has demonstrated a significant amount of leadership through his experiences as an undergraduate teaching assistant in courses such as physiology and human anatomy, a research assistant with the Health Behaviors and Cognition Laboratory (HBCL), a Read to Succeed tutor for the MSU Student Literacy Corps and as a College of Education Ambassador for Kinesiology. Anthony has also worked as a volunteer for the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and as a Resident Orientation Leader for the MSU Academic Orientation Program, where he promoted diversity and inclusion to first year students and introduced them to college life on campus. It is also worthy to mention that Anthony’s hard work has led him to being awarded the Wayne State University Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship as well as the MSU Kinesiology Scholars Scholarship. Moving forward, Anthony will make a wonderful addition to a very fortunate medical school in the near future. Due to his academic excellence and overall leadership, we are excited to award Anthony with the 2021 Outstanding Senior Award. Congratulations Anthony!

Anthony Mrocko

Community Service Award – Jessica Drennan

Jessica Drennan is a junior in the Department of Kinesiology pursuing a career as a physician assistant. Throughout her time at MSU, Jessica has not only maintained an impressive GPA, but has established herself in the local community through her extensive participation in community service opportunities at organizations such as McLaren Hospice, Burcham Hills rehabilitation centers, the MSU Tower Guard, and the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities. Jessica has also volunteered her time in the MSU Department of Physiology and through her participation in the MSU Pre-Physician Assistant student organization. Jessica also volunteers an extensive amount of her time for the BOND program, helping to guide students with autism spectrum disorder throughout their college experience. In the future, Jessica plans to carry her service and academic prowess forward to graduate school and a very bright future in healthcare. Due to her extensive service to the community, we are happy to award Jessica with the 2021 Community Service Award. Congratulations Jessica!

2020-2021 Award recipients