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Exercise science/pre-med major to pursue research in Ireland

Because Kollin Kahler knows the value of sports, he hates to see anyone miss out due to injury and looks forward to pursuing a career in orthopedics. Kahler will have the chance to Kollin Kahler learn more about innovative techniques in the field next summer while working at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Dublin, Ireland, as one of Lamar University’s two David J. Beck Fellows for 2014.

“I feel like I can learn so much from this. For any future orthopedic surgeon, this would be the best opportunity,” said the exercise science/pre-med major from Waco. He said he sought out the best sports medicine facility in Europe for his project so he could gain a different perspective to complement his studies in the U.S. His search led to the clinic in Ireland. “I want to broaden my mind and learn a different approach to medicine. I want to see their techniques and be able to compare and contrast them and get a full, well-rounded experience.”

The Beck Fellowship, a unique, competitive award for LU undergraduates, covers all expenses – including tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board – for one year and provides up to $10,000 for a summer project proposed as part of the application process.

Kahler expects his project in Ireland to provide excellent preparation and a competitive advantage when he applies for medical school. His previous opportunities to participate in research at Lamar have been limited due to other commitments. He has served as punter on the Lamar Cardinals football team for four years, balancing practices and team meetings with his studies.

“I’ve been playing sports since I was about 3 years old. It’s always been a big deal to me. I know what sports teaches kids – hard work, perseverance, competition. It taught me to be a winner and that there is a reward for hard work. It’s helped me become a better man,” Kahler said.

His appreciation for the benefits of sports led Kahler to his goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon, especially after seeing a friend and teammate face a sports-related injury in high school.

“I want to see kids who cannot play sports because of an injury come back to what I love to do. I don’t want them to miss out on the fun and everything sports has to offer,” he said.

Kahler said he already has gained hands-on experience in human performance testing, such as pulmonary function, strength testing and body composition, through his classes at Lamar, especially with his fellowship mentor Rick Carter, professor of health and kinesiology. At the clinic in Ireland, he will be able to work in a 3-D biomechanics lab where injured patients perform various movements to measure the amount of force and pressure exerted on their joints. This aids in rehabilitative techniques and preventative care. Kahler also looks forward to observing surgeries and rehabilitation sessions. Particular areas of interest at the clinic are in the treatment of groin injuries and common knee injuries related to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).

“I’ll get to take what I’ve learned in class and relate it to the real world,” he said. “I’m very blessed and very fortunate and very happy that I’m provided this opportunity.”

Kahler has also been involved on campus as a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and as president of the LU chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Through FCA, Kahler said, he has been able to develop his speaking abilities, his leadership skills and, most importantly to him, his faith. The group has grown from about four members attending meetings his freshman year to more than 50 today, he said.

Kahler said he looks forward to sharing what he learns during the fellowship in Ireland with his professors, classmates and team physicians when he returns. “Without this fellowship, there’s no way this could happen. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Kahler was recognized as a 2014 David J. Beck Fellow in a ceremony Nov. 20 in the University Reception Center on the eighth floor of the Mary and John Gray Library. Keeley Townley-Smith, a physics/electrical engineering major from Lumberton, also was recognized as a 2014 Beck Fellow. Jeremy Allen, a management information systems major from Beaumont, was recognized as a finalist for the fellowship.

The ceremony also included presentations by 2013 Beck Fellows Amy Morgan and Crissie Vandehoef about their summer projects. Morgan, an English and Spanish major from Silsbee, traveled to Argentina where she attended a literary seminar and worked on translations of works by Argentine author Mempo Giardinelli, organizer of the seminar. Vandehoef, a biology/chemistry/pre-med major from Port Neches, worked as a research assistant at the National Institutes of Health where she investigated akylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease from which she suffers.

The David J. Beck Fellowships are made possible by a generous gift from LU distinguished alumnus and prominent attorney David J. Beck, founding partner of Beck Redden LLP in Houston. For more information on the David J. Beck Fellowships, visit lamar.edu/beckfellowships or call (409) 880-8400.