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Bruins in Paris

Nya Reed appreciates gymnastics career as preparation for future in medicine

(Photo by Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff. Photo illustration by Ashley Ko/Daily Bruin)

By Genevieve Trimbell

June 10, 2024 4:26 p.m.

Nya Reed’s goal upon her transition from a Gator to a Bruin was returning to gymnastics after a year-long hiatus.

In just one season in Westwood, the six-time All-American did just that – competing on vault and floor in all but one meet and averaging a 9.925 on the latter.

But the UCLA gymnastics graduate student gained more than just gymnastics expertise as a Bruin. In her final year in Westwood, Reed solidified her vision of life post-graduation.

“I want to get my EMT license, and then I need 2000 or 1500 hours to start PA (physician assistant) school,” Reed said. “I think it’d be really interesting and very cool to be able to get my EMT license and then go ahead, do that for a year, and then apply for 2026 to go to PA school.”

Graduate student Nya Reed receives cheers from freshmen Sydney Barros and Paige Anastasi and sophomore Clara Wren after finishing her floor routine. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Reed always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, majoring in applied physiology and kinesiology as an undergraduate at Florida.

As someone who prioritizes her family and friends, Reed leveraged the network of former UCLA gymnasts to discover a path to pursue her medical education without compromising quality time with her community. She first spoke to a UCLA alumnus-turned-PA.

“She talked about how she has more freedom to be with her kids and around her husband and things of that nature,” Reed said. “So I was like, maybe that is the route for me.”

Coach Janelle McDonald said the network of Bruin alumni is a valuable resource for current athletes – gymnasts are able to connect with past members of the team to discuss future endeavors.

McDonald added that Reed’s generous attitude bodes well for her future in the medical field.

“From day one, she came in and she’s really selfless,” McDonald said. “She showed up every day and worked hard and really just tried to show up for the team in every way she could. And I feel like that’s going to translate really well into the medical field.”

Reed became a Bruin at 23 years old, aware that her gymnastics and collegiate career would soon come to an end.

The team’s culture gave her space to decide who she wanted to be – as both a gymnast and a person – and helped her chart the next part of her journey.

“From day one, (Reed) really is somebody who always looked at her role as a athlete, her role as a teammate and her role as a friend,” McDonald said. “It was really cool to see her grow into a stronger version of herself.”

Beyond the alumni web, the drive and intensity of being a student-athlete helped Reed settle on her ultimate goal of becoming a physician assistant.

After 11 years of Level 10 and NCAA gymnastics, Reed was accustomed to the intense schedule of a high-level athlete, and thus knew she needed a hands-on career.

“I feel like we’re always up and always moving,” Reed said. “Being a student-athlete with any sport does it. You’re so used to waking up early, having something to do.”

Reed claps her hands in Pauley Pavilion. She transferred to UCLA as a graduate student after spending four years at Florida. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Years of competing around women instilled in Reed a fervent commitment for female empowerment as she watched her teammates excel both on and off the competition floor.

Keen to specialize in maternal-fetal medicine or pediatrics – citing UCLA alumni and her mom as chief forms of inspiration – Reed said she wants to enter the medical field to provide a voice of support and strength for women.

“We need more women in those fields that women weren’t always allowed to be in,” Reed said. “So let’s just go for the full 100% and just prove people wrong. It also makes other women feel more comfortable when they’re able to walk in a room and see another woman.”

As her graduate certificate wraps up in September, Reed plans to move back home to Maryland and pursue her EMT license.

And armed with a new sense of self, she said she feels prepared for the next chapter of her life.

“I really have taken the time to evolve into this amazing individual who’s very confident in herself and goals and aspirations and I know who I want to be.”

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Genevieve Trimbell | Sports contributor
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
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