Where are they now? Codi Ramsey
Interviewee: Codi Ramsey
Interviewer: Kyle Hansen
Codi Ramsey is currently in Dunedin, New Zealand where she is studying to receive her PhD in Physiotherapy from the University of Otago. A graduate of MSUB, Codi was able to Skype with me and talk to me about her experiences at MSUB as well as her time in New Zealand, what her research entails, and what she plans to do after she receives her doctorate.
KH: To start, where are you now and what has been your path to where you are currently?
CR: Currently I’m in Dunedin, New Zealand and I’m studying at the University of Otago. New Zealand has some really interesting ways of spelling things in addition they use Oxford English. I’m learning to pronounce a lot of things. Even though it’s English, it’s not English. I’ve had quite the learning curve. But previously to this I was in Utah and ironically enough I was lucky to get a job at a very small school in rural, central Utah and I was the alumni director. I got my master’s degree at Utah State while I was in Utah and I had a professor there that had done his post-doctoral work in Auckland and during my time at MSUB I had a lot of friends that did overseas summer trips or they got to study abroad for a semester. I had a baby (Colin) while I was there so that opportunity wasn’t available to me while I was at MSUB because I couldn’t go to a new country and do new things with a brand new baby. I’ve always wanted to and when I heard my professor at Utah State talk about his experience in Auckland I thought about how New Zealand doesn’t have a language barrier, or so I thought, and studying here could be a really cool opportunity. So I started looking into it and the New Zealand education is governed by one body. There’s nothing comparable to it in the states. It’s a ministry of education that governs all levels of schools. Primary, intermediate, high schools and tertiary studies and so there’s not a big gap between universities. I could’ve picked any university; I think there are nine in New Zealand, and essentially gotten the same quality of education. Something that the New Zealand government does to attract foreign students to New Zealand, because it’s so far away from everything, is they offer a very generous scholarship to those who qualify. I was lucky to receive one of those. It pays for my tuition and provides me a living stipend on top of paying for my school. Once I found that out, I looked into what fields the different schools in New Zealand are most known for. I applied to a few different schools and I had applied before I finished my master’s so I wasn’t accepted right away. I applied for the scholarship at the same time that I was applying for schools and they told me, ‘Hey, you’re a really good candidate, just come back later.’ So I waited a year and tried again, and during that year I did more research and found out that Dunedin was really the place I wanted to go. Not only geographically it’s pretty cool but it’s only about two hours away from Queenstown which is where they filmed a lot of The Lord of the Rings movies and so it’s absolutely beautiful. There’s great hiking and my personal hobbies are well represented here so it’s really somewhere I wanted to be. And in addition, the school, the person I ended up talking to and getting in touch with. So it’s kind of a Catch 22; you have to have a supervisor in order to apply but you have to go apply in order to get a supervisor. So I started emailing somebody and said, ‘Hey, I’m interested in applying, this is the field that I want to study and how do I go about it.’ She basically took my hand and guided me through everything to get me here and she’s been a great advisor to this point. So I’m really fortunate to be here.
KH: Essentially New Zealand seemed like the best fit because it had everything you were looking for correct?
CR: Yeah. I didn’t even look at anywhere else. I just kind of decided I might as well try and if it doesn’t work I have a good job and I was doing alright. If it didn’t work out, then that’s alright.
KH: Your research while in New Zealand is on shoes and their overuse with runners. Why that specific area of research?
CR: Yes and how they influence overuse injuries in runners. So it’s a pretty hot topic. The big debate is should people be running barefoot or are the traditional shoes that were built to help absorb some of the shock actually doing what they were built to do or are they harming the person. So that’s what I’m looking into. While I was in Billings I spent a lot of my off time running. I think I could still run up and down Poly Drive to Park Hill, that whole loop down to 17th and back with my eyes closed. I probably put more miles on that sidewalk than most people in town. Over the course of that running I developed quite a few different overuse injuries. Part of it, I’m learning, was due to training. I ran on the sidewalk and I did all of these things that are big no-no’s but it wasn’t ever published and wasn’t common knowledge either. It’s a personal passion because of the struggles I’ve had to endure by having overuse injuries.
KH: I know your research is only a couple of months old, but what has your research shown so far as to whether or not people should run barefoot?
CR: It’s so conflicting. There’s not a definite answer. Biomechanically, a person that runs in a barefoot condition, typically lands in a position that the force can be absorbed over several different joints versus somebody that runs in a traditional shoe, their leg is almost straightened out straight in front of them. They hit with their heel and with a straight leg, and so their force is absorbed directly to the knee. So the knee contracts all of the force. If you look at just one step on a force plate, and you produce a running speed and of course speeds are going to make a difference on how hard you are hitting the ground, but a traditional shoe person produces about two times their weight in force on every step. So if you expand that out over 6 or 10 or 13 or 26 miles, what that does to somebody in terms of injury is pretty significant. So if a person’s knee is absorbing two times their body weight in every single step over the course of several miles, several times a week, it seems pretty easy that you would end up with a running injury.
KH: Did you know while you were studying HHP at MSUB that you were going to eventually pursue a doctorate?
CR: No, no way. It was the influence of some of the professors I had that made me want to have a career like theirs. Not all of them have PhD’s so it wasn’t a thought like, ‘Oh I’ve got to get my PhD so I can teach like these guys.’ And ultimately that is my goal; I’d like to teach at a college level. Somewhere like Billings would be great. But no, I didn’t know when I was at MSUB that I was going to keep going. A master’s was always in the thought process. A master’s is the new bachelor’s I guess. It almost seems like in order to get a good paying job you have to have a master’s. I haven’t had a real focus on what I wanted to do so I’ve just stayed in fields that I’m interested in and I haven’t been real driven to get a teaching job or something like that until just recently. My master’s is in health education and I just figured it was a good field to continue going in. I already knew a lot of the stuff and my courses came pretty easily to me there so that was really nice and I met great people along the way and it was really the one time that the guy talked about getting a post-doctorate in New Zealand and I kind of went, ‘Well, I can get my PhD, I guess.’
KH: What are some life lessons that you learned at MSUB that you took with you throughout your studies and up to today?
CR: I grew up a lot at MSUB. I was given opportunities at MSUB that I don’t know if I deserved them. My time at MSUB was very special. There’s just people and things that came into my life at the right time that really influenced who I am now. Former Rec Director Steve Johnson gave me a job that I could be passionate about and grow with and he gave me the reins to something that I absolutely had no idea how to run and he let me learn and it was amazing and I learned by doing that. I started working at the front desk at the rec center and then I was a lifeguard and a water safety instructor and then the person that was his assistant ended up leaving and she told him, when she left, ‘You need to put Codi in this position.’ I think I was maybe 19 or 20 at the time and he did it. I have to attribute that trust of the person before me. She trusted me enough to say that I was capable of doing these things even though I didn’t believe that. I learned that I can do many different things and that I’m a good multitasker. I enjoyed the diversity of trying new things. So, that whole step in my life was amazing. Still today, Steve remains one of my closest friends. I talk to him on a weekly or biweekly basis. Even here in New Zealand I’ve emailed him and Skyped with him. It’s really great. He’s just a level of confidence that I’m always falling back on. He’s the one that gave it to me and it’s nice that I can still talk to him about it. He tells me what he would do in situations and I take his advice and it usually works out so it’s a really nice relationship to have. Actual skills I learned from the professors in HHP, they taught me great skills, great life lessons. I never felt like I was a number. I always felt that I was cared about as a person. If I wasn’t in class, it was noticed and they asked why and made sure that I was okay. I think I even had a couple, when I had my son that showed up in the hospital to visit just to make sure everything was alright and that I was going to be back in class soon. I think some brought me homework and you don’t get that everywhere. It was pretty special at MSUB.
KH: While you’re in New Zealand, what’s it like, what are you doing for fun and what are you hoping to see?
CR: It’s winter right now. I’m currently looking at a very foggy, rainy day. It’s only about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re enduring the cold. We do get out. The town we live in is about the size of Billings but has the activity of somewhere like Bozeman or Missoula. So it is very student oriented. It would be like putting Missoula’s campus in Billings and all the activity that comes with it. It’s a bigger place that provides a lot of opportunities for a lot of different cultural things. We try to absorb that. We don’t need to be the Americans that only do American things. We like the culture and we like to try new things and be involved just in whatever the environment and the community has to offer. Just around town there are hikes and glowworm caves. That’s a popular thing and I guess they’re everywhere. Penguins are a frequent coastal friend to Dunedin and they’re very shy. You can go down to the beaches and kind of hide in these huts that are built along the beaches and watch the penguins come in at night. That’s one of our favorite things to do. It’s pretty magical to see wildlife in its own natural habitat and not being influenced by anything people are doing. We just recently spent a week up in Abel Tasman National Park. It was beautiful and amazing. There were beaches and rain forests and crazy birds and fun stuff to do. They call them Great Walks here. There’s nine Great Walks and they all involve going through these national parks. That’s our goal is to try to see all nine Great Walks, whether in its entirety or partial trips one at a time. I’d like to learn to surf. Living in Montana you don’t see the ocean, so this is my first time living by the ocean and it’s pretty amazing. It’s Antarctic water so a wetsuit is necessary. We just want to explore. My office is empty a lot because I’m out doing things but my studies are first so I make sure to get them done.