Emma Dewart '12, M.S. '13

School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Health Education

The women’s pentathlon has five events. The shot put demands strength. The 800-meter run requires speed. The 100-meter hurdles and the long and high jumps call for agility. As a runner and jumper in high school, Emma Dewart ’12, M.S. ’13, had an offer to be a pentathlete and turned it down.

“I didn’t want to do it because I’d never thrown a shot put, I’d never hurdled, and I didn’t run an 800,” she said.

Weeks before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health education, Emma won her second consecutive NCAA national pentathlon championship with one of the highest point totals in the history of women’s Division III track and field. She was also named the 2012 Empire 8 woman of the year in recognition of her academic achievement, athletic excellence, and community service. Her rise to national acclaim began her freshman year at IC.

“When Coach [Jennifer] Potter first explained that I’d make a good pentathlete, I had lots of doubts,” Emma said. “But I knew she was very good at recognizing strengths, so I couldn’t say no.”

The next day, Emma began her hurdling career.

“I’ll never forget how awful I was. The difficulty wasn’t just learning new physical skills but developing the mentality to switch from event to event, to recover from a bad performance and move on.”

A full course load, which included a four-credit anatomy class, also challenged her. “Like track, juggling athletics and academics takes discipline.”

That discipline rewarded Emma while student-teaching health education.

“I’d never taught high schoolers. I didn’t feel prepared, but having competed in big meets, I knew how to handle my nerves. After the first week, students began telling me how classroom topics such as ‘disease and lifestyle’ related directly to their experiences. Gaining that new perspective, I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life connecting with students.”

Currently preparing for a teaching career, Emma is pursuing a master’s degree in health education at IC.

“Coming out of high school, I never expected I’d be so successful in track,” she said. “Responding to a coach’s challenge taught me to aim high in everything.”

>> More on this story: "Dewart Named 2012 Empire 8 Woman of the Year" - Bombers Athletics