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5 Minutes with: Nadine Zuckerman, Alumna and Graduate Student

five minutes with

Nadine Zuckerman Alumna Spring 2010, Grad Student Fall 2010

Meet Nadine Zuckerman, BS, Kinesiology/Exercise Science, 2010. With the start of the fall 2010-11 semester, she began studies toward the CSUN Master's in Physical Therapy.

Nadine Zuckerman at Commencement

Nadine's interest in health and well being is personal and global. We spoke with her at the end of the summer, just after she returned from a trip to New Zealand performing habitat restoration on the island of Motutapu.

Q: Let's go straight to New Zealand. How was the trip, and was it academic, volunteer work, vacation?

A: It was all three! I spent a month there – the first two weeks I did habitat restoration with six other international student volunteers and a project leader from the Department of Conservation. Students were from the US, Scotland, England and Canada. The second two weeks we spent sight-seeing in New Zealand.

Q: Tell us about the habitat restoration.

A: We worked on a small island called Motutapu off the coast of Auckland. It's very remote, no people live there, there’s no fresh water and we built a fire when we needed heat. I love to camp, and it was a great way to give back, work with locals, and learn about different animal species.

This restoration was the start of a 50 year project to return the island to forest. The eco-system in New Zealand is different from anywhere else. We built fences to keep predators out of certain areas. The island (and at one time New Zealand itself) was originally predator-free, but humans introduced rats, cats, opossum, and livestock, and cut down the forest to make pastureland. Many of New Zealand’s endemic species couldn't compete with the non-native plants and animals.

The essence of the project is to bring back the natural landscape by making the island predator-free and bring back the native brush so the native birds can come back. This is the hope for all of New Zealand but is first happening in these smaller scale areas where pest and weed control is easier, so a lot of what we're learning and doing will carry over to new projects.

Nadine Zuckerman and colleagues in New Zealand

Q: How did you find out about this adventure?

A: I saw flyer on the counter at the Freudian Sip on campus when I went for coffee between classes. It's as simple as that - I picked it up and went to meeting to find out more.

Q: And now you’re starting your Master’s in Physical Therapy at CSUN. What made you choose PT?

A: I like working with people, and one thing for sure the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know! I like the science and the research and how they come together with the hands-on work of a physical therapist. You make people feel better! As physical therapist you can make a big impact on someone’s life. I’m keeping my options open, but I’m interested in pediatrics.

Nadine Zuckerman at Commencement

Q: And you bring research and community work to the table, too.

A: I was a research assistant for Dr. Victoria Jacque [in Kinesiology] and learned about research in the field of mitochondrial disorders - problems can result in depression, irritable bowel syndrome, or severely debilitating conditions and they all start at the cellular level. I was proud to be involved in documenting some of is important research.

I was also involved with the “worKPHT” a program with Dr. Loy in Kinesiology. Northridge Magazine did a story on the program last year. We taught workers to incorporate fitness into their daily routines to prevent overuse injuries. One of the other positive effects was they usually got involved in more fitness activities in their lives outside of work.

Q: Shane Frehlich, the chair of Kinesiology, told us you've also worked as a camp counselor with children with diabetes.

A: Last winter and the summer before I was volunteer camp counselor for Camp Conrad-Chinnock, which is for kids with Type-1 diabetes. I worked with teen and pre-teen girls. We kept a close watch on their blood sugar levels. Camp activities like hiking and kayaking burn carbohydrates. I worked with professional medical specialists on staff to treat any complications and make it possible for the kids to go away to camp. For some of them this was the first time they’ve been away from their parents over night.

Q: How did you become interested in working with kids with diabetes?

A: Actually, my boyfriend became diabetic at age 20 with what is commonly known as juvenile diabetes, so since then I’ve been involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. That’s what led to my becoming a camp counselor. Like I said about the New Zealand trip, it's very satisfying to give back, and I'm looking forward to a career as a physical therapist for just that reason.

Q: Are you ready for the MPT program?

A: I've already volunteered over 300 hours at Physical Therapy clinics and hospitals and while I was an undergrad I also worked as an aide and got over 600 hours in a PT clinic. I got to work in acute and outpatient clinics volunteering at Northridge Hospital, Therapy West for early intervention for kids, and acute care at at Providence Holy Cross Hospital. So I'm ready!

Nadine Zuckerman graduated with a 3.99 overall GPA and was named Outstanding Scholar in the college at commencement 2010. She made the Dean’s List every semester and reached graduation in three and a half years. Her contagious enthusiasm, focus, drive and leadership skills all stem from her genuine desire to support others in living healthy, happy lives.

- Jean O'Sullivan