Class of 2021: Nia Augustine


"I hope that by becoming an executive administrator in a healthcare system, I will be able to remove barriers to healthcare access and improve the quality of services that underrepresented communities receive."

Why did you choose the UVA School of Education & Human Development for your program of study?

As a first-generation college student, I had no idea what the School of Education and Human Development was, much less their Kinesiology program. I was introduced to the school and their program during a conversation with two students of color who majored in Kinesiology. From my conversations with them, I started researching and met with administrators to learn more about the school’s overall mission. The more I began learning about their Kinesiology program, I knew I had to be a part of this community. I chose the UVA School of Education and Human Development to study Kinesiology because of their core values and focus on community. They value teamwork, support of their peers, and provide their students with a variety of experiences for learning. As I look back on my decision, it is one that has given me an intensive learning experience.

What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time here?

The most significant thing that has shaped my time at UVA was my participation in the Meriwether Lewis Institute (MLI) for Citizen Leaders. Through this opportunity, I gained skills to think analytically and solve institutional issues. One of the required courses for the program, ARCH 2070: Design & Thinking, taught me new ways of approaching problem-solving, including design thinking methodologies on real-world challenges with socio-cultural human impacts. My success in that class and the MLI program prepared me to excel in my roles as a consultant and facilitator for the UVA Student Health and Wellness Center and UVA School of Nursing. Lastly, the cohort of students and administrators provided me with the support and numerous opportunities to lead through compassionate dialogues.

What is one thing you learned during your studies that surprised you most?

I learned the importance of caring for your mind AND body in order to live a fulfilling and long life. Through the numerous courses offered in the Kinesiology department, I was able to form a comprehensive view of health and recovery. This was surprising to me, because my previous science background focused on the chemical aspect of health which ended up limiting my view on the overall physiology. From my studies, I believe that every healthcare provider should be cognizant of the interconnectedness of the mind and body.

How are you feeling about being a member of the Class of 2021, completing your program in the middle of a pandemic?

This year has been unlike any other and it is traumatizing for me to make one of the biggest transitions of my life during it. I had a list of UVA activities I wanted to do prior to graduating but because of the pandemic I did not have the opportunity to do them safely. I definitely experienced FOMO throughout my last semester especially when there was a possibility that we would not walk the Lawn. However, now that I can walk the Lawn with my school, I feel like I can conclude my UVA experience with a smile.     

What will you be doing next?

After graduation, I will be attending Columbia University in the Fall to obtain my master's in Health Administration. Additionally, I will begin a full-time internship as an Associate Consultant at the private equity and data analytics healthcare company Cotiviti. I hope to use the knowledge gained from my UVA experience, Columbia’s MHA program, and other internship opportunities as stepping stones towards becoming the CEO of a regional hospital. I hope that by becoming an executive administrator in a healthcare system, I will be able to remove barriers to healthcare access and improve the quality of services that underrepresented communities receive.