SJSU Kinesiology Students Shine: Research and Prestigious Doctoral Acceptances

By Dr. Michael Dao, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology

TheDwhanil Shah San José State University Department of Kinesiology (SJSU KIN) had two outstanding graduate students defend their master’s theses this spring semester. Ivanna Anderson-Villella under the supervision of Dr. Cole Armstrong, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, explored the beliefs, values and norms of Division 1 student-athletes on topics related to environmental sustainability. Her study is one of the first to explore this specific population in relation to environmental sustainability. Utilizing semi-structured interviews, Ivanna found that Division 1 student-athletes are influenced by the university athletic departments agenda on environmental sustainability, but also resist and challenge the departments in order to bring attention to the pressing issue. As a result, the participants recognized their agency in being change agents regarding sports role in environmental sustainability. The second student is Dwhanil Shah under the supervision of Dr. Lamont Williams, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, explored how the Netflix documentary on Formula 1 racing “Drive to Survive” influenced fandomship among the sport, particularly for those who were not familiar with this global sport. His study emphasized how sports media and entertainment are pivotal in garnering new fans to the sport and how they influenced perceptions of Formula 1. Both of their projects were robust qualitative research studies that incorporated a high-level of attention to research practices.


Ivanna Anderson-VillellaAn amazing feat is that both Ivanna and Dwhanil were accepted and will be starting their doctoral program at prestigious universities in their fields. Ivanna was accepted to the University of Toronto to pursue a Ph.D. in Kinesiology, while Dwhanil was accepted to Florida State University to pursue a Ph.D. in Sport Management. Ivanna and Dwhanil continue an exceptional tradition of the department of kinesiology graduate students being accepted to top-tier doctoral programs.

When asked about how the department of kinesiology nurtured their academic growth, both students highlighted how faculty members helped them learn about academic research, put their learned skills to practice and the robust curriculum challenged their critical thinking skills. Dwanhil indicated that the sport management faculty in the kinesiology department “put him in a position to continue on his academic research exploration and pursue a Ph.D. in Sport Management after graduation.” As faculty members immersed in ongoing research, Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Williams also created an environment for both students to begin their academic research journey. Ivanna stated “I knew SJSU would help me achieve the educational objectives offered, such as having the capacity to expose myself to the sports industry while using analytical methods in research.” Ivanna and Dwhanil exemplify the caliber of SJSU graduate students and are the future of Kinesiology as a field. The department of kinesiology congratulates them on their successful thesis defenses, graduation, and their future academia journeys at the Florida State University and the University of Toronto.

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