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Sydney Hill is using what time she has left at Virginia to finish laying the stepping-stones to her future.

Enrolled in the Curry School of Education, Hill has always been interested in teaching. But it wasn’t until she started taking classes through the kinesiology program that she began focusing her attention on dietetics and nutrition.

“When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher,” Hill said. “It was just a matter of finding a subject that I really thought would challenge me and that I could apply to other interests that I have. Then, in my exercise physiology class, we started talking about sports nutrition. As a student-athlete, it’s really cool to have that kind of class and be able to apply it to what I’m doing and see if I’m doing the right things or not.”

The practical application isn’t the only appealing aspect of the program, though. Involved in countless activities throughout the community and University, Hill has found that helping others create a healthier and more active lifestyle is what really matters to her.

A member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, Hill has taken her athletic talents to the Special Olympics Volleyball program, where she plays her sport of choice with special needs children. She is also an effective leader in Virginia’s Student-Athlete Mentor program – one of the first programs in the country that works to engage athletes in helping their teammates identify good decision-making skills. In addition, she is actively engaged in UVa’s ACE (Athletes Committed to Education) program, which is a bi-weekly program throughout the year where she mentors and tutors elementary and middle schools students.

“I think one of the biggest things that I’ve gained from just being involved is relationships,” Hill said. “I’ve been blessed with being able to form a lot of really great relationships and I think it’s really beneficial to have friends in different areas of the University. It helps you grow, being able to interact with people of different backgrounds with different interests.”

The most influential program that she is involved with is the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center, where she works in the Children’s Fitness Clinic.

“The experience has been a lot of fun,” Hill said. “It incorporates a lot of teaching, as the children and their parents/guardians come in to meet with the nurse practitioner, exercise physiologist and registered dietician, so you can go through all aspects of their life in order to make it healthier. You talk about their interests, eating habits and exercise. Then you help them set goals that they can reach and you continue to make them harder and harder as they progress.”

Though the experience has been beneficial, Hill doesn’t necessarily have aspirations to be a registered dietician in a clinical hospital setting.

“What I want to do is more of a practical application of nutritional training,” Hill said. “I’ve always enjoyed informing people and I want to help them make good decisions and live a healthy life. I’ve always joked about some day being able to write a small column in a fitness magazine. That would be something cool – a little dream of mine.”

And who knows, Hill has enough connections, educational background and practical application that she may just be able to make her dream a reality.

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