Q&A with John Dargan

Kristen Lilya

Where are you from?
I grew up in a little town called Bovey, Minnesota.

How many years did you go to school?
Four plus two. Actually it is a one year program for my masters. It took me two years because I was working full time and taking classes as I went through.

What is your role on campus?
Maining teaching in the exercise physiology department. I also am the coordinator for internships. So all of our students do internships and there are typically forty seniors and twenty graduate students. So they all have to find internships, and they find their own, but I coordinate and do the paperwork to make sure they are all set up. One of the other things enjoyable here is I work with the cross country running team now. And the nordic ski team. I have been testing their athletes along with the coach Chad Salmela for ten years. So several times a year they’ll come in and I’ll put them in the treadmill and we’ve got some instrumentation that we use on them. We hook them up to a mask and measure how much oxygen they’re taking in and how much CO2 they are producing, just looking at the inside and what’s going on. We ramp it up until they can’t go anymore and they call that a VO2 max test. I’ll then take that data and give it to the coach then he’ll analyze it and tell the athletes how to train and when they’re ready for a more intense training program. It’s been a great group of people to work with. They’re all fit, young, active and doing really well.

How long have you worked at St. Scholastica?
Thirty years now, 15 years in the chemistry department and in that last few years I started taking classes for my masters in the exercise physiology program. I got my masters degree in that with the intention of teaching a course or two in that department but staying in chemistry. I spent a couple years doing a little bit here and a little bit there but then it became obvious that I should be in one program. So then I focused on exercise physiology. I’ve been teaching there going on almost 15 years there too.

What is SHAPE UP?
That was a program we developed in the department of exercise physiology in order to help employees, faculty, and staff, but we did develop a program for students as well. To test them, we do relatively simple fitness testing that measure for their cardiovascular fitness like a step test and then we would have them do some push ups or sit ups to measure strength. We would measure their body composition like height, weight, and BMI. Then develop an exercise program for them and show them the program. After six weeks we would bring them back in and test them again in order to track their fitness. The program has undergone a number of changes over the years and now it completely handled by Gen Woodstrum … Julie Zaruba does all the the programing of health and wellness for the students. So right now there is a program that she offers to the students called the cynergy program and we always have one of our students working and running the program. Although Julie coordinates it and finds the times. Sometimes it will working with a class or just random students but doing the same type of things with fitness. It also provides some nutrition facts, relaxation type exercises, and sleep hygiene. All that goes into being healthy.

What is your favorite course?
They are all my favorites! Probably the exercise physiology class; it’s the basic content. It’s a junior level class and all the juniors take it. It covers a broad area, everything from basic metabolism making ATP and that goes right back to chemistry. A lot of this now that I’m teaching is applied back to chemistry. The course also covers the oxygen consumption and O2 and CO2. It has a lab with it so we spend a lot of time in groups of ten or twelve people rather than a lecture hall of forty people. It’s nice to get to know them all pretty well. That is the semester where we introduce them to the metabolic analyzer which is the exercise physiology main piece of equipment. We get to spend a lot of time with that. So that’s probably favorite but they are all good.

What drew you back to work at CSS?
Well I always thought I wanted to teach, I didn’t know I would be here. After I had been a chemist for number of years I came back to Scholastica to get my teaching certification with the intent in teaching in a high school setting or something like that. That was my plan, I got a high school teaching licensure and and had applied for some jobs. The timing wasn’t right and I didn’t get a job in the fall when school starts. I thought that was going to take another year, and that October Sister Agatha called. She asked if I wanted to come teach at college. I thought I could do that so it was just a nice fit. She knew that I had come back and was taking some teaching classes so she knew that I would like to be in that setting. So I’m grateful that she reached out and gave me a call. I’m glad that they had a need and I was able to fill it.

What are some interests you have outside of your job here?
Well I try to stay active, in the winter I ski and try to do cross country skiing and get out a number of times every year. In the summertime, I try to spend as much time as I can kayaking, not as much as I used to but I have kayak for Lake Superior. I’ve done a number of trips to the islands and things like that. Some of the same trips I see Outdoor Pursuit going on, I’ve done those things. That keeps me pretty busy and I try to stay active that way. A little bit of cycling in the summer time and a little running if I have to just to stay in shape.

What else would you like to add to Cable readers reading your Q&A?
I’ve got two kids. My daughter is expecting her first child so I’m going to be a grandpa for the first time in a few months. That’s exciting for me and I’m looking forward to that.