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SHU's New Scholarship for Women in Exercise & Sport Science Honors Bigelow Tea Exec

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s newly established Lori S. Bigelow Scholarship, which honors a former local businesswoman, will provide full tuition for a female graduate student enrolled in SHU’s master’s in exercise & sport science program.

Bigelow served as co-president of Bigelow Tea Company in Fairfield after working over 35 years at the family business. She passed away in February 2020.

During Bigelow’s tenure, she was instrumental in creating some of the most successful teas in the business's portfolio. Before retiring, she served on the U.S. Tea Association’s board and was a former member of the Canadian Tea Association. Before embarking on her career at Bigelow, she was a passionate athlete for many years. While Bigelow maintained a busy career, she also upheld her passions for sports and exercise. Raised in Westport, she developed a love for gymnastics and was captain of her team at Keene State College in New Hampshire. 

Cindi Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Tea, wanted to honor her late sister’s legacy by supporting female students who are dedicated to healthy living, fitness and helping others. She approached SHU with a scholarship idea, and the University was excited to embrace and support it. 

“My family is honored to partner with Sacred Heart University to offer this scholarship in Lori’s name,” said Cindi Bigelow. “My sister Lori was extremely talented in many ways. She was a tremendous athlete and a truly gifted flavorist when it came to creating new teas. It is our hope that this scholarship will help other talented women achieve their goals and make lasting contributions in nutrition and sports science.”

Students in the exercise & sports science graduate program learn in state-of-the-art facilities, benefit from a 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio, gain experience through internships and work with SHU’s Division I athletic teams and the Pioneer Performance Center, a research center focused on promoting excellence in sports performance.

Eligible scholarship candidates must be incoming graduate students enrolled in the full-time exercise & sport science program, demonstrate financial need and be or identify as female. 

“This scholarship honors a creative business woman and athlete who recognized the integral nature of good nutrition, proper training and coaching in the prevention of injuries,” said Maura Iversen, dean of the College of Health Professions. “We are excited to grant a scholarship to a female student and do our part to level out the gender gap in this profession. We look forward to meeting our Bigelow scholar.”

Why female? 

Beau Greer, professor and director of the exercise & sport science graduate program, said that, while strength and conditioning facilities, like gyms, tend to have a more balanced staff when it comes to gender, the high school, collegiate and professional programs trend higher on male representation. Greer said this cycle of misrepresentation must end. The lack of females on coaching staffs gives the impression that the field or training environment is less welcoming to females, he said. 

“This is unfortunate, as one of the primary goals of any strength and conditioning head coach is to create a sense of community in the gym. One imagines the more we can normalize female presence on coaching staffs, the more young, female athletes will consider planning a career in strength and conditioning,” said Greer.

Boards of professional organizations on which Greer serves have created inclusion statements and goals for the immediate future, recognizing the lack of diversity within the strength and conditioning community. “However, to see an appreciable change, we really need to start at the academic level as we are training the future practitioners. Lack of diversity is always a hindrance to innovation and progression within a professional field, and by better recruitment of female students, we can play a small role in reversing the gender imbalance within the strength and conditioning field at large,” Greer said.

Greer is enthusiastic about the scholarship opportunity. “Not only will this scholarship assist in providing greater access to our program for a student with limited financial means,” he said, “but it is also a step forward in evening out the gender imbalance within the strength and conditioning community.” 

For information on applying for or donating to the Lori S. Bigelow Scholarship, visit the scholarship’s webpage

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About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 386 Colleges–2021 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best Business Schools–2020 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu

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