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Hart’s heart for helping others

Family of Christine Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., presented the scholarship in her honor to health and physical education major Mary Hart during a baseball game. Pictured (l-r) are: Sara Johnson, Mary Hart, Kelsey Johnson Sears and Scott Sears.

Like many 16 and 17 year olds trying to determine the next steps of their lives after high school, Mary Hart said thinking about her future was overwhelming. At that time, she knew she wanted to attend college but wasn’t sure which path to take.

“I tried to consider things I was passionate about and interested in and blend them together into an ideal job,” she said.

Her passion for helping others and her interests in holistic health led her to the undergraduate health and physical education program at Georgia Southern University.

“When we talk about being healthy, we have to think about being mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically healthy,” Hart explained. “That is what I want to teach others — how to be healthy in every way possible.”

While Hart says the curriculum at Georgia Southern has provided her with a solid foundation in healthful living, her professors have also encouraged her to explore additional areas of interest in holistic health while studying to complete her bachelor’s degree.

“During my junior year, I was teaching health in a school for the first time, and I was able to take some of the things I am passionate about and implement those into the classroom lessons,” she said. “The professors have allowed me to put my own personal touch into my lesson plans, and they have really helped me to do what I feel like is my purpose on this earth.”

In the classroom, she approached a typical middle school lesson on alcohol and drugs holistically, discussing the physical effects of substance abuse on the body, as well as its impact on mental health and the students’ social lives. She also felt it was important to discuss resources for addiction and emphasize healthy ways to avoid drug and alcohol abuse.

Her first classroom experiences helped assure Hart she was on the right path, but that didn’t mean the road to complete her degree has always been easy.

In fall 2018, Hart worked three jobs while commuting to campus every day from Toombs County, Georgia, and maintained one of the highest grade point averages of all current students in the health and physical education program at Georgia Southern. For her hard work and dedication during her time in the B.S.Ed. Health and Physical Education program, Hart was awarded the Dr. Christine Elizabeth Johnson Scholarship.

“It is not easy,” she said. “A lot of people think health and PE will be easy A’s, but it’s definitely not. I didn’t want to go through an easy program. I wanted to get a degree where I learned the best ways to teach students utilizing the latest research.”

Hart says Georgia Southern is known for preparing exceptional educators for the classroom.

“I have learned from the personal experiences of my faculty,” she said. “Their classes and lessons are refreshing because they give you words of wisdom from experience versus just words out of a textbook. That means so much to me.”

Hart graduated in May and will immediately begin her studies in the Master of Science in Kinesiology program at Georgia Southern.

“If I can help just one student look in the mirror and be satisfied with what they see — it was all worth it,” she said.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit



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