Laynie Callo of Milton, N.Y., a senior at Mount Saint Mary College, will be moving on to graduate studies at California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) in December of this year.
This spring Callo will graduate from the Mount with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in General Sciences. She will be joining Cal U's Exercise Science and Health Promotion Master's Program with a dual concentration in Sports Psychology and Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention.
Callo decided to pursue this graduate program thanks to her background in sports. Specifically, she understands the impact her mental state had on her as an athlete, and she hopes to support others in that area.
In high school, Callo was a track and field athlete running up to 25 miles a week until a spinal condition called spondylolisthesis – when one vertebra slips out of place onto the bone below it – left her unable to compete.
Due to the severity of Callo's condition, she began to experience episodes of numb legs and back pain so severe that she sometimes could not walk, having to use crutches or a wheel chair.
Callo explained that her time in physical therapy helped to heal not only her physical but also her mental strength.
"The toll that particular experience had on my mental capacity for my sports performance as a whole would have been detrimental if it wasn't for me having such an amazing support system," she explained. "I want to be able to be that person for other athletes, maybe even the professionals."
Callo attributes her growth over the last four years to her experience at the Mount, where she learned how to connect with people from all walks of life. She believes this will be her greatest tool in her future career working with many different athletes.
"I have had the privilege of meeting some of the kindest and most hard-working people, both in the student body and within the faculty and staff," she said.
Callo noted that Amanda Maynard, professor of Psychology, and Rae Fallon, associate professor of Psychology, have made a significant impact on her by sharing their personal experiences within the psychology field.
"These stories further grew my love for the world of psychology and were an example to me of just how many areas of life psychology can be applicable," Callo explained.
Being a woman entering a male-dominated field does not scare Callo in the slightest: "I've always been the woman that was just as fast or just as strong as some of the men I've participated in sports with, and I think that mindset will keep me strong and allow me to focus on my craft and get ahead," she said.
Women are encouraged to apply to similarly male-dominated fields at the Mount. These include the college's Exercise Science major, which studies the body's motion, particularly through and during exercise, and the Sports Management concentration for Business majors, which combines a passion for athletics with the operational and management experience needed to run the business aspect of sports.
Callo explained that the Mount taught her to never limit herself in what she believes she can handle. After evolving from a commuter student who went straight home after classes, to an active part of the community as club member, a kids' after school program director, and two-year Resident Assistant – all while maintaining a high GPA – Callo said, "You will never know how much you can handle until you push your limits of success."
With a strong foundation from the Mount, these are limits she will no doubt continue to push for herself and her fellow athletes at California University of Pennsylvania.