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LIU Post Student-Athlete Melissa Peet Named Valedictorian

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The driving rain that drove LIU Post’s 2017 Commencement exercises indoors from their original site on the Great Lawn may have put a damper on the excitement for some graduates, but for valedictorian Melissa Peet, being on stage inside Pratt Recreation Center made perfect sense.

After all, as a four-year student-athlete who’d played with LIU Post’s softball team at the NCAA Division II championship as a freshman, Peet has come to feel as much at home in the gym as anywhere else on campus.

“We had a lot of practices in that gym,” Peet said, “so those memories, and some of the other events that the University had in that gym, it all came back to me a little bit.”

It also didn’t hurt that the rain had forced a delay in the East Coast Conference softball championship, meaning that Peet didn’t have to dash out after the ceremony to meet up with her teammates for a tournament game in Dobbs Ferry. 

“I got to enjoy Commencement,” Peet said, “and a bunch of my teammates got to watch, too, so they were happy.”

After that, Peet and her teammates came out and won three straight tournament games, pushing top seed Mercy College to the brink before falling in the conference final. With the final out, Peet’s career as a student-athlete was over, and she was on to her next adventure, which isn’t far removed from her career thus far: this fall, Peet will begin work toward her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Sacred Heart University.

“I’ve had seven surgeries throughout my life so far, so I’ve spent a lot of time in PT clinics,” Peet said, “and I’ve seen how they help people, so I’m staying with my athletic roots. That was the deciding factor in me choosing the field.”

Peet has gotten a head start toward her goal as a student at LIU Post, working with the Pioneers’ athletic training staff while earning her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences.

“Two summers ago,” Peet said, “I worked with the athletic training staff, and worked the football preseason with them. I got to observe, and learn the tests and techniques that they use. That got me more comfortable in the training room, so when I would be there with my own team, I would be able to help them out a little bit. Some of my teammates, if there was a long line, would come to me so they could get out of there quicker. It was fun, and it definitely helped broaden my horizons.”

And when the time came to work on her honors thesis with department chair Marci Swede, her athletic roots led her to a perfect topic.

“I picked five of the most common injuries in athletics and the sports they correspond to,” Peet said, “and explained, based on anatomy and physiology, the kinesiology and the sport, why those injuries are happening, and how to work to prevent them.”

And, in the end, when Peet delivered her valedictory address in between days of her final softball tournament, she knew she was exactly where she belonged.

“It kind of summed up my whole time here,” Peet said. “I’m used to juggling school and athletics.”

Posted 06/05/2017

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