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Otterbein alumni and students leading the way in corporate wellness programs

Otterbein alumni and students leading the way in corporate wellness programs

It’s a fact of life that health care costs keep increasing as the nation’s population ages. One way employers are combatting the rising costs is through exploring wellness education and implementation. Healthcare professionals and providers are in demand to work together with corporations to integrate wellness into employees’ personal overall health. Otterbein is responding to the demand for trained professionals and is at the forefront of leading healthcare initiatives in Central Ohio.

Recent Master of Science in Allied Health (MSAH) alumna Lauren Keller answered the need and found a new career with OhioHealth.

“I was a nutrition major at The Ohio State University, but I didn’t want to become a registered dietician,” Keller said. “I discovered corporate fitness through an internship during the fall of my senior year. I went back and got my certifications for personal training and group fitness through the American College of Exercise.”

Through the internship, she was hired as a program manager at Huntington Bank’s fitness center. Recently, Huntington moved into a new facility and OhioHealth was contracted to manage the onsite corporate Gateway Fitness Center. With her prior experience and new master’s degree, Keller was ready and able to take on the task of supervisor.   

“I always knew I was going back to school, always keeping an eye on what programs were out there. I discovered Otterbein and I liked that classes were in the evening and close to my house. I wanted a different experience with a more personal environment,” she said.

During her last year of the MSAH program, Keller served as a graduate assistant, working to promote the program and recruit potential students. How did the MSAH degree help prepare her for her new role?

“The program is what you make it. Professor Paul Longenecker emphasized that you can take an idea and then discover how you can apply it to your world and your interests. The sky is the limit with Otterbein’s program. I love that aspect and I could take it where I wanted to. I didn’t want online, I wanted something in person. I liked the flexibility of the program. I loved the small class sizes. Everybody had a different focus and many different interests in the class.”    

Just across the hall from the Huntington Bank fitness center is the Wellness Center managed by another Otterbein alumna, Martha Minnich, Nurse Practitioner. Huntington employees receive discounted rates at the center for various illnesses, flu shots, biometric screenings and health coaching.

The Otterbein connection doesn’t end there. Kelly Dishun, a senior exercise science and health promotion major, says she had a long, enjoyable career at Huntington Bank, where she was a member of the fitness center. But she was ready for a career change.

“I knew that I did not always want to be in finance or risk management,” she said. “I have been an active person my whole life, and I’m now passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. I also love working and interacting with people, something that my job at the time was not really allowing me to do. After looking at several degree options at a couple of Columbus-based schools, I chose Otterbein for its comprehensive exercise science degree track,” she said.

Dishun has worked with faculty and staff at Otterbein through the OtterFit Fitness Program where students are paired with staff members to lead personal and group training. She will be leading group fitness classes starting this spring.

“About 10 months ago, I learned that my old company was moving offices and putting a new fitness center in the building. Through my connection with Lauren Keller, I was put in contact with the management of the new facility, and was able to leave my previous position to start working in my new field this past summer,” she explained.

Dishun will complete an internship next fall semester and plans to graduate in Dec. 2018.

“Otterbein has afforded me the opportunity to experience hands-on learning that already has benefited me in my new career. Because of the more intimate classes, I have built relationships both personally and professionally with other students, as well as my professors. I feel supported and fully prepared to continue on my path!”