Anna Bomber credits personal and professional growth to Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology program
Bomber and her peers will graduate as the first cohort of students in the new master’s program
Like many college students nearing the end of their undergraduate years, UW-Green Bay senior Anna Bomber ’19 was not entirely sure what she wanted to do after graduation.
“Really,” the Appleton, Wisconsin native recalled, “I wasn’t even entirely sure what I wanted to study when I entered college. My interests at other colleges I attended had been undecided, but by the time I transferred here for my four-year degree, I had decided on Psychology.
“So, I was graduating with a degree in Psychology, and I could only see counseling or research as the next step, but I wasn’t really interested in either of those,” she said. “In one of my classes, Dr. Alan Chu talked about the new master’s program he was starting, and that got me interested. I registered for the next semester’s classes, and I was hooked,” she smiled.
That was two years ago. This month, Bomber and a dozen of her peers will graduate as the first cohort of students in the Masters of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology (SEPP) program. It’s also the first master’s program in UW-Green Bay’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS). Bomber is pursuing certification as a Certified Mental Performance Consultant from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.
The SEPP program was initiated by Assistant Professor Alan Chu, who also chairs the program. An avid athlete himself, Chu’s primary areas of expertise are psychosocial aspects of sport, exercise, and health. He is also a sport psychology consultant who works with athletes and coaches, from high school to professional levels across sports, on mental skills training including goal setting and visualization.
The program resonated with Bomber in ways she had not anticipated.
“I’ve been a runner and a dancer for a long time, and I’ve had my own experiences with performance anxiety,” Bomber said. “I remember the first time I got stage fright. I was in a school play in middle school and I forgot my lines. I just ran off stage crying.
“I went on to have a few leading parts in high school,” she recalled, “but I always had nerves. Fortunately, I was able to make it through.”
She credits the SEPP program for giving her the knowledge and skills to understand her own anxiety and develop her personal strategies to combat performance anxiety.
“Our studies focus on the mental component of performance, where an athletic trainer would focus on the physical side,” she explained. “I learned ways to help people with their motivation, goal setting, visualization, and other behavioral strategies to overcome anxiety.
“I also had two great internships that let me apply my skills,” said Bomber. “The program is structured so that the first year you learn the material, then the next year you apply it. The faculty is well connected to the community and helps us get that real-world experience.”
Bomber said the internships really helped her develop her own strategies to manage performance anxiety.
“I dread speaking in public,” she confessed, “but the program requires us to do training presentations for large groups. I was also a teaching assistant for Dr. Chu for two years, so I had to learn to speak in front of students. I was able to draw on my education and internship experiences to get me through those classes.”
Her experience at UW-Green Bay has given her the organizational and professional skills she knows she’ll need after graduation.
“I thought the master’s program would just be school,” said Bomber. “I was not really prepared for the amount of service projects, internships, deadlines, and other opportunities there would be.”
“This program has set me up well for all kinds of opportunities,” Bomber said. “I’m interested in working with musicians, athletes or even exercisers as part of a company that focuses on wellness or wellness consulting. I’m also considering something that lets me continue my teaching role. Eventually, I can see myself in private practice as a performance consultant.”
As she graduates in this inaugural cohort, Bomber says she is surprised at how fast the years have gone.
“I’d say to any student who is unsure of what to do, ‘Just try this,’” said Bomber. “You’ll grow and learn to rely on each other.’
“I picked UW-Green Bay because it was close to home and I’ve been blown away by the quality of my education here, the experiences I’ve had and the connections I’ve made,” said Bomber. “The faculty have always been supportive of us and I’ve made friends and professional connections that will last a lifetime.”
By Jim Streed (2005)