Janelle Abarca ’21

Undergraduate Degree/School: 

B.S. Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Anticipated Year of Graduation from Franklin’s MSAT Program:



Tinley Park, IL

Janelle AbarcaWhy did you choose Franklin College (FC) and the FC MSAT program?

I chose FC and the MSAT program because of the small cohort. The smaller size would provide for a more intimate learning environment, but also have the immersive and comprehensive clinical opportunities that are so important for our profession.


What made you choose athletic training as a profession?

Athletic training was attractive since I would be able to perform a variety of different “jobs” as a professional – first responder; prevention specialist; evaluate and treat a variety of injuries; work with patient’s from initial contact to rehabilitation; assist with return-to-play and so much more. I would also have a wide range of employment settings to choose from – secondary schools, colleges, industrial settings, hospitals, etc,

What was most appealing to you about Franklin College’s MSAT program when you were making your decision on where to pursue your post-graduate degree?

Franklin College’s MSAT program stood out for many reasons but primarily due to the program size being small and intimate, and because of the location. Franklin, Indiana is in a unique location that provides many opportunities for clinical rotations in smaller towns and larger cities, and the ability to work with diverse populations in the surrounding areas.

Please describe your relationships and interactions with the Franklin College MSAT faculty.

My cohort was able to bond with the MSAT faculty on a professional and personal level, based on the many different characteristics we each have. Though my cohort is diverse, we still have common interests and goals that are consistent with those of the MSAT faculty, which makes for robust relationships.

What specific clinical experience rotations have you had as part of the MSAT?

I have had the pleasure of performing clinical experience rotations at high schools, a sports performance center, a physician’s office and at Franklin College. While at Greenwood Community and Whiteland Community High schools, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the roles and responsibilities of being in a setting that involves active participation and communication with the student-athletes, as well as their parents. St. Vincent Sports Performance center, both in downtown Indianapolis and in Carmel, provided me with the ability to experience a clinic setting and work with athletes who ranged from the everyday runners to elite athletes. At OrthoIndy, I was able to see live surgeries in the operating room and work with an orthopedic surgeon and his physician assistant. I am currently at Franklin College working with our head athletic trainer and athletes from several different sports.

What do you feel distinguishes the Franklin College MSAT from others?

There is a very strong relationship between students and faculty, in addition to the preceptors from the surrounding clinical sites. It is a tight-knit community of professionals, who know each other on a more personal level, which improves our learning and networking experiences.

How does a master’s degree in athletic training prepare students for a career in the health field?

A master’s degree in athletic training prepares students to have a greater knowledge and appreciation for the profession. When it comes to preparing for interviews or just having to explain to someone the extent of our education and training, we can say that we have mastered the core competencies that allow us to practice at a distinguished level.

Describe how the professional development opportunities you have experienced as part of the Franklin College MSAT program have helped you reach your goals.

Having access to all of the faculty and preceptors in the area, alumni of the program and the career development staff at the college has allowed me to learn how to network, tailor my résumé to the profession, learn about new concepts in the field and open doors to potential career opportunities.

Tell us about your experiences with research as part of the Franklin College MSAT program? 

My group is doing our research project on a tool that is currently attractive in many athletic training clinics. We are interested in finding out if using this instrument is useful in increasing range-of-motion in baseball players. From developing our concept, to finding participants, to analyzing the data, it has been a stimulating process, and one we hope will be useful to those in the profession.

You will be taking the Board of Certification (BOC) exam and graduating from the MSAT over the next few months. What are your goals after graduation?

Once I pass the BOC exam, my goal is to work in the collegiate setting. I really enjoyed that  population of athletes the most through my clinical experience rotations, though I am open to the idea of taking a job anywhere there is an opportunity!

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience as a student in the Franklin College MSAT program that we didn’t ask about?

As a student who took a few years off school before pursuing my graduate degree, I can say that the Franklin College MSAT program allowed me to feel like I did not miss a beat. Everything has been taught thoroughly and the faculty makes sure everyone has a comprehensive understanding of the curriculum so that we are all on the same page.

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