My Life at CSUMB: Training for the future

Jordan Janusz

Jordan Janusz is working as a trainer while getting his kinesiology degree. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

March 18, 2024

By Mark Muckenfuss

For Jordon Janusz, the parallels are uncanny.

While going to school at Cal State Monterey Bay, he is also working as a personal trainer. He wouldn’t be doing that work, he said, without the personal training he’s received as a student in the school’s kinesiology program. 

He’s preparing to graduate in May from the same university his parents did years ago.

And he hopes to someday follow in the footsteps of his mentors and become a college instructor himself.

None of this would have happened, he said, if it weren’t for the personal attention he and other students receive at CSUMB. 

“What I really feel that you can't get elsewhere is the connection with the professors,” Janusz said of his experience as an Otter. “I feel seen and acknowledged. I have a relationship with every one of my professors. I feel like they all have my back and want to see me do well. It's a lot easier to learn this way.”

And it nearly didn’t happen. 

Janusz, who grew up in Marina and Watsonville, had his sights set elsewhere when he graduated from high school. 

“I was an AP honors student in high school,” he said. “I got accepted to a bunch of colleges.”

But midway through his senior year, his aunt, who had helped to raise him, was diagnosed with cancer. His aunt is doing well now, but Janusz said at the time his world descended into turmoil. He missed the deadline for submitting his SAT scores and his acceptances were revoked. 

Following graduation, he attended Cabrillo College, but quickly decided it wasn’t for him. A brief stint at San Francisco State the following spring ended when he couldn’t find adequate housing. 

He felt directionless.

“Then I got an email from CSUMB asking me about enrolling,” he said. “I didn’t realize I had even applied. I was born and raised in Marina, so I was very happy to come here. I loved the small class setting. I loved my professors and getting to know them.”

Still, he wasn’t sure what major to pursue.

“Around 2019, I started exercising and hired an online coach,” he said. “Seeing how diet and exercise changed how I felt in just 12 weeks, it awoke a deep interest.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he took online courses, earning a certificate as a personal trainer and, later, as a performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  

At CSUMB, he said, “I started to take the major-specific courses for kinesiology and everything just fell into place.”

Things fell into place in the gym work he was doing as well. So much so, that he took a gap semester in 2022 and considered not returning to school.

“People around me were telling me I didn’t need a degree,” he said. “But I knew I wanted to finish my degree to make my mom proud. And it was around the time when the information in my courses was getting real specific. I saw how much of a difference it would make. It completely elevated the product I was able to provide to other people.”

Continuing his studies hasn’t been easy. At one point, he was putting in 15-hour days, beginning at 5 a.m. in the gym, where he worked with clients until 9 a.m. Then it was off to school until 4 p.m., after which he was either doing group training or coaching youth soccer until 8 p.m. He recently eliminated his evening work in order to concentrate more on his studies.

Once he graduates in May, Janusz said he hopes to find work as a trainer with a college sports team. But eventually, he’d like to return to the classroom.

“My long-term goal is to follow in the footsteps of my role models, who are my professors here,” he said, “and pursue a master's in exercise physiology and, from there, teach college. I love to teach. I‘ve taken part in seminars and I really enjoy it.” 

Recently, he established his own business as a limited liability corporation. It likely wouldn’t have happened without those CSUMB mentors, he said. 

“The close connection with the professors and their guidance really helped,” Janusz said. “It's helpful not to feel like you're going into that alone.” 

This story is part of an ongoing series. Find other stories here