Building. Academic. Muscle. (Pennsylvania Western University)

Posted: Jul 14, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Western University on July 14, 2023.

Building. Academic. Muscle.

Fitness has always been a vital part of Dr. Jacque Crockford’s life – from spending her childhood at the YMCA to summer camp, swim lessons and gymnastics.

“I am someone who needs to move to survive and be my best self, and competing in challenging sporting events gives me purpose and direction while challenging me to grow and evolve,” said Crockford ’20, senior product manager for the American Council on Exercise.

This love for movement and sport directed Crockford, 38, to the online Doctorate in Health Science program at Pennsylvania Western University – then hosted by California’s campus. In her program, she focused on adult online education with a special emphasis on exercise science.

This concentration on individual learning fortified Crockford’s ability to connect academic content to health and fitness professionals.

“Understanding how our learners learn was essential to me,” said Crockford, who’s worked in a variety of fitness-related fields for more than 20 years. “The California program allowed me to research and practice those skills so that I could be better in my own career, while helping those in the health and fitness industry improve theirs through online learning.”

Crockford is one of thousands of alumni who have channeled their interest in health and wellness into a professional path. Through PennWest Global Online, individuals can earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, and a doctorate in health science and exercise leadership.

With all three tracks offered 100% online, students can invest in their careers with an education from nationally renowned instructors and industry professionals while working in the field.

PennWest California is the leader in the study of exercise science as the first institution to offer the nationally ranked master’s degree program. Those who pursue the doctorate-level program are at the forefront of the societal shift from treating disease to promoting wellness and health. The bachelor’s degree track recently earned the No. 1 national ranking from EduMed – a leading higher-education health care consultant – for accreditation, internship opportunities, and practical and theory method delivery.

For Crockford, her educational degrees have been an essential part of her career trajectory. Prior to her doctorate from California, she earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in exercise and sport sciences from Florida International University.

“Through the educational process, I have been guided in the various directions my career has taken,” she said. “Formal education may not be for everyone. But for me, it has helped to steer me in a path I might not have taken, and for that I am grateful.”

Since receiving her doctorate from California, she was promoted within the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and has been a featured spokesperson for ACE in the Los Angeles Times, New York Post and Women’s Health.

This achievement at the professional level matches Crockford’s definition of success as being content while simultaneously moving forward with opportunities for growth.

“I believe that qualities important for success are the ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable, desire for lifelong learning, and a sense of adventure and willingness to try new things,” she said.

For more information about PennWest Global Online’s exercise science programs, visit

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