Bloomington-Normal native and Redbird legacy Isaac Faamoe was glad he stayed in his hometown to study exercise science at Illinois State University.

“I can look back and say that I definitely made the right decision because this exercise science program is very competitive, and I’ve definitely grown immensely as a student from the experience that I’ve gotten here,” he said.

Faamoe, who will graduate this semester, is the son of longtime Illinois State University employees Kerri Calvert and Nuusa Faamoe, M.S. ’06. Calvert is a health promotion coordinator in Health Promotion and Wellness, and Nuusa Faamoe is an academic advisor in University College.

Isaac Faamoe’s favorite part of Illinois State was working as an academic peer advisor.

“My dad was the one that initially reached out to me for that opportunity. And that was a really great experience,” Faamoe said. “Traditionally we would work with freshmen and transfer students, and these are typically students who don’t really know what’s expected of them or how college differs from high school in a lot of areas. It was really gratifying getting to work with a wide variety of students and helping them get their bearings on campus and succeed during that initial transition because that’s something that I struggled with as a freshman.”

This advising experience, along with joining two registered student organizations (RSOs), including the Exercise Science Club, helped him escape a rut early on at Illinois State. He encouraged new Redbirds to get involved in extracurricular activities.

“If you just sit around and hang out in your dorm all day playing video games—that’s what I did my first semester and I really had trouble making friends, and feeling like I was a part of this campus community,” he said. “So find an RSO that seems interesting and stick your foot out there. There are 400 different registered student organizations here on campus. They will make your campus experience more enjoyable and help you create meaningful relationships.”

Faamoe found his passion for exercise science in high school when he became interested in weight lifting. His father encouraged him to apply to Illinois State because of its stellar School of Kinesiology and Recreation.

“I had a lot of great professors. I think that kinesiology program is definitely very distinguished in that regard,” Faamoe said. “I would say Dr. (Scott) Pierce and Dr. (Michael) Torry were my biggest influences and definitely helped motivated me to push through my course work and push myself as a student as well.”

Faamoe spent this spring semester completing his professional practice requirement, by interning at Bracey Performance, an athletic training facility in Chicago.

“Your goal is to get real-world experience, bolster your resume, and grow as a professional during that time,” he said. “You get to accumulate all that you’ve learned at ISU and then you’re tossed in the field. It’s really a great experience for getting your foot in the door understanding what that real-world application looks like.”

It was also a challenging experience. From 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Faamoe helped clients complete their training regimens, making sure they had proper form and weren’t putting themselves at risk of injury.

“I would check my watch at the end of every shift, and it would be like, you walked 29,000 steps, 13 miles, and 11 flights of stairs,” he said.

Faamoe said one highlight of the internship was working with Instagram fitness influencers and professional athletes, including an NFL player.

“That was a crazy experience because he wasn’t a starter or anything, but I mean this guy was built like a tank, basically all muscle. It really opened your eyes to see like, wow this guy isn’t like a household name or anything, but he’s still like a ridiculously intense athlete.”

With his internship complete, Faamoe planned to celebrate commencement with his family by participating in the Redbird Stage Crossing. He is taking a gap year after graduation, in order to travel with his girlfriend and enjoy some time off. Then he would like to apply to graduate school to study exercise physiology. No surprise here, his first choice is Illinois State University.

This story is part of a series of profiles on Redbirds who are graduating this May. For more information about how Illinois State is celebrating commencement this semester, visit the Graduation Services website.