• Jacki Wright, Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Exercise Science

    "Every course I teach in health and sport psychology has life skills at its core."

Jacki Wright

Why She Chose the Liberal Arts

As a Luther College graduate, Wright knows all about the benefits of a liberal arts education. “I loved my experiences as a student at Luther—the interdisciplinary approach to learning, the small classes, and professors who knew who I was and cared about me,” she says. “My mentors were highly effective teachers who guided me through a wonderful experience, and I knew when I graduated that I wanted to come back someday to teach and coach.”

Career Aspirations at Young Age

Even in grade school, Wright knew she wanted to be a health and physical education teacher and coach. She played several sports as a kid and in high school, and continued to play in college and beyond. “As a young high school athlete, I figured out how important the mental side of sports was,” she says. “I found myself practicing imagery prior to performances. And at that time, I didn’t know that what I was doing was called imagery. I just knew that what I was doing really helped me to perform at my best.”

When she became a secondary physical education teacher and coach, she taught her student-athletes the same mental skills. “It wasn’t until I was working on my master’s degree (while then teaching and coaching at Luther) that I was formally introduced to the field of sport psychology,” she says. “I immediately knew that I wanted to pursue this area of study for my doctoral degree even though, at the time, it was not a widely recognized field of study.”

Sport Psychology and Health Promotion

When it was time to pursue her doctorate, Wright was grateful that her department head supported her decision to pursue a degree in sport psychology. “I looked forward to applying my knowledge as an educational sport psychologist to the sports I was coaching,” she says. “I was also very fortunate to be able to design, develop, and teach three sport psychology courses at Luther, which I’m still teaching. I love helping students learn how to apply these mental training concepts and skills to not only their sports, but to their lives outside of sport.”

Her introduction to teaching health at Luther came from a departmental need for someone to teach courses in Luther’s health major. “As a result, I went back to school again in preparation to teach specific health courses,” she says. “I found returning to graduate school in health promotion to be quite invigorating and was excited to begin teaching in our health major.”

Her Course on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

Wright teaches a first-year seminar during J-Term called Exploring Alternative Medicine. “I love stimulating students’ interest and curiosity about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies and teaching about the mind, body, and spirit connection,” she says. Wright is also a Reiki master and has received training in healing touch for people and animals.

Every course I teach in health and sport psychology has life skills at its core. It naturally happens when students learn about professional ethics in health education, discuss controversial health or sport psychology topics, or when they mentally prepare for an athletic performance.

—Jacki Wright

Professional Association Memberships:

  • SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) America
  • Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance