Sharpee, Zellner and Zychowski

Three kinesiology alumni are using what they learned at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to help others lead healthier lives.

Kayla Sharpee ’10, of Rio, is a physical therapist at Beaver Dam Community Hospital Outpatient Clinic. Kristin Zellner ’12, of Phoenix Arizona, is an occupational therapist at Barrow’s Inpatient Neurological Rehabilitation Unit. Brianna Zychowski ’14, of Menasha, is furthering her education in the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Sharpee specializes in the treatment of peripheral joints and manual therapy skills, including joint manipulation and mobilizations.

When Sharpee graduated from UWO and was applying to physical therapy schools, she suffered an injury that prevented her from working as a personal trainer while she recovered. During recovery, she worked as manager at a local restaurant.

“The injury that led me to grow another career also taught me other important life lessons and skills that would prove to be a valuable asset,” Sharpee said.

In May 2013, Sharpee was accepted into UW-Madison’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. She graduated in May 2016.

Zellner assists patients returning to daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using the restroom.

“A typical day for me consists of assisting individuals with making progress towards becoming more independent, returning to meaningful activities and reaching individual goals ranging from being able to walk to the bathroom, returning to golf or writing their own name,” Zellner said.

Zychowski plans to graduate this September as a physician assistant and hopes to get a job in the Fox Valley working in the area of general medicine.

The three alumni credit the UWO kinesiology department and its professors to leading them to their career paths.

Sharpee said the kinesiology program inspired her to challenge herself and explore different fields in healthcare, exercise and fitness.

“The classes themselves were challenging, but also completely in line with the class requirements you may need to pursue higher education,” Sharpee said. “All of the classes I took while at UWO were required by most physical therapy schools as prerequisites and, therefore, I did not need to spend more money or time taking additional classes.”

Sharpee founded the UWO Kinesiology Club and was president for two years.

“As president of the Kinesiology Club, I was supported by every professor in developing the club to meet the needs of the students,” Sharpee said.

Zychowski said the kinesiology department faculty encouraged her to pursue more than what was right in front of her.

“A special thanks to Leigh Ann Mrotek for being my boss, adviser, role model and friend throughout my undergrad career,” Zychowski said. “She found the scribe position I had and loved for a year at ThedaClark Regional Medical Center in Neenah, which is how I confirmed my interest in medicine.”

Sharpee and Zellner also recognize Mrotek as being influential to them.

“I cannot say enough about Mrotek’s dedication to her students, the program, the field, or her research focusing on individuals recovering from stroke and other brain injuries,” Sharpee said.

As Zellner’s academic adviser, Mrotek assisted Zellner in pursuing a graduate program in occupational therapy.

“Mrotek taught me to think critically and apply biomechanical and motor learning concepts to better address my patient’s deficits and impairments,” Zellner said.

She said the kinesiology program helped her to develop clinical observation skills she uses daily while working with patients.

“Now that I am working in a medical setting, I realize how many of the core concepts and courses in kinesiology, biomechanics, applied anatomy and motor learning, apply to my profession on a daily basis,” Zellner said.

Written by UWO alumni STEP student Jenny Goldade.