James Madison University

Alumni Highlight - Kiara Cox

BS Kinesiology: Exercise Science, Class of 2009
MS Kinesiology: Clinical Exercise Physiology, Class of 2011

PHOTO: Kiara Cox

I came to JMU in 2005 and knew I wanted to earn a degree in the exercise science/ sports medicine field. I wanted a career where I could help others in promoting a healthy lifestyle. The Kinesiology department was great in nurturing me with the knowledge in exercise science with course work focusing on exercise physiology, exercise prescription and programming. I also appreciated the opportunity for practical endeavors in the field with internship experience. After graduating in 2009, I knew I wanted to work with older adults. So, I decided to stay at JMU for the graduate program in Clinical Exercise Physiology to pursue a future career working in rehabilitation.


As an undergrad, I had the opportunity to complete a practicum with UREC as a fitness assistant. I also interned as a personal trainer at the Dayton County municipal center, where I created an exercise program for some of their employees. The highlight in my internship experience was during graduate school at JMU. I had the pleasure of working in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation for two hospitals. I interned at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in the summer of 2010 and Rockingham Memorial Hospital during my last semester at JMU in 2011. I had the hands-on experience working with the patients from monitoring EKGs, taking vitals, setting up exercise equipment and leading hand and leg weight exercises. I loved seeing patients improve their health and mobility with the help of exercise. My internship experience gave me a first hand look of what it would actually look like to work in the field.

Graduate School

After graduating 2011, with my master's in Clinical Exercise Physiology, I worked as a Senior Nutritional Counselor with Medifast, Inc.  I counseled and mentored individuals with their weight-loss program. At Medifast, I used the knowledge I learned in exercise programming and nutrition to help the members reach their weight-loss goals. I currently work at Sentara PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) in Virginia Beach as a Clinical Exercise Specialist. I work in the therapy department and head the exercise programming for the older adults at the facility.  I am in charge of the Nu-Step bike and ambulation program for older adults. My graduate coursework in Clinical Exercise Physiology for exercise programming in clinical populations, such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease has helped me with my patients today. 

The Kinesiology program at JMU has definitely helped me with my current job working with older adults. The real life experiences I gained through my internships with the KIN program has shaped my expertise and knowledge  in exercise prescription and programming for the patients I currently work with in the clinical population.