Exercise science student-athlete named College of Education’s student marshal for Auburn University’s spring 2023 commencement

Published: May 01, 2023

Article body

Dustyn Taylor Lewis, an undergraduate student in the School of Kinesiology, will represent the College of Education as its student marshal for Auburn University’s spring 2023 commencement ceremonies. Lewis will earn his Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science, with a minor in psychology.

“Being chosen to represent the College of Education at graduation means a great deal to me. It’s reassuring to know that others have faith in me, and it gives me the confidence to pursue my interests and make the right decisions. This means everything to me,” he said.

Lewis was born in San Diego, spent most of his childhood in Austin, Texas, and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, to complete high school. It was there that he began running — a sport that would eventually lead to him being recruited to Auburn for track and field.

“During my freshman year of high school, I started running,” said Lewis, who graduated from Huntsville’s Grissom High School. “When Auburn recruited me to run for them, my college decision was an easy one.”

A triplet, Lewis said he has a strong bond with his brothers and finds inspiration from his parents.

“My mother was a personal trainer, which inspired me to pursue a career related to exercise and fueled my passion for sports,” he said. “My father is exceptionally intelligent, and he encourages me to excel academically and pursue my education to the fullest extent possible.”

When Lewis wasn’t with running for the Tigers, he conducted undergraduate research as a research assistant in the Performance and Exercise Psychophysiology Lab under Matt Miller, professor and assistant director of the School of Kinesiology.

“Dustyn made great contributions to classroom discussions by asking thoughtful questions and providing intriguing insights,” Miller said. “Dustyn has also been an undergraduate research assistant in my laboratory, where he has worked tirelessly to collect and process data. He has also made tremendous contributions to monthly laboratory meetings where he has exhibited great acumen for research. I would rank Dustyn among the best five undergraduate students I have met in the School of Kinesiology during my 11 years here.”

Lewis’ exceptional work as an undergraduate student also earned him the honor of Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the School of Kinesiology.

“I also spent some time volunteering in local physical therapy clinics to gain observation hours, should I decide to apply to PT school,” he said. “I will be continuing my education at Auburn with a Master of Science in exercise science.”

Following his master’s, Lewis will either pursue a doctoral degree in exercise science or go to physical therapy school to earn his Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

“I look forward to learning more about our student marshals every year,” said Jeffrey T. Fairbrother, dean of the College of Education and Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor. “Exceptional students like Dustyn inspire me and are a constant reminder of the importance and impact of the work we do at Auburn. He is an outstanding student — and athlete — and I’m thrilled he will continue chasing his academic dreams with us in the College of Education.”

Lewis chose exercise science for his undergraduate degree after his first injury as a distance runner in high school.

“Addressing the injury required a vast amount of knowledge, leading me to strive for a greater understanding of the human body through classes in applied anatomy, motor performance, biomechanics and exercise physiology,” he said. “I hope to deepen my knowledge and receive mentorship through a thesis master’s program at Auburn.”

Lewis said Auburn’s exercise science program and the research experience he was able to receive enhanced his college experience.

“Participating in undergraduate research and taking upper-level courses was particularly fulfilling, and it helped me identify my future career goals,” he said. “Looking back, my only regret is that I didn’t discover my specific interests earlier in my college career, as I believe this hindered my learning in the beginning, but fueled it in later years.”

He said the biggest lesson he learned as an undergraduate is that true learning can only occur when you are interested in the subject and that being “smart” in a subject is a product of passion and interest.

Lewis said being a student-athlete gave him balance, in addition to improved time management and study skills.

“I think spreading my time between two realms of my life gave me more relief than stress,” he said. “It also helped that my area of study often correlated with my sport (cross-country/track and field), and questions I have about my sport I can ask in class or research and answer myself.”

After he completes his education, Lewis’ ultimate goal is to work in endurance sport and exercise rehabilitation, combining his expertise in physiology, rehabilitation and research.

“I envision a career as a coach, clinician/practitioner and researcher,” Lewis said. “To achieve this, I plan to pursue a dual Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Philosophy program after completing my master’s degree. I want to work on both sides of rehabilitation and use my knowledge to help improve the performance of endurance athletes and advance endurance sports. I am inspired by the impact that Norwegian long-course triathletes have had on both long- and short-course triathlon by using scientific methods and data collection techniques from fields such as biomechanics and exercise physiology to structure their training.”

Submitted by: Miranda Nobles

Dustyn Lewis

Dustyn Taylor Lewis