It’s one thing to have a full-time job lined up when you graduate. It’s another thing altogether to have a position created for you a year before you earn that diploma.
Welcome to Kate Wallen’s world. The dynamic Lakeland College exercise science and sport studies major hasn’t even started her senior year, but the leadership at Generations community center in Plymouth, Wis., has seen enough to know she’s a perfect fit.
“Kate came in here as an intern in May, and she has done such a fantastic job we are creating a position for her,” says Fred Brown, exercise and activities coordinator at Generations.
“What she’s done here shines a very positive light on Lakeland College. She is so well-prepared and understands the complexities of putting together a variety of exercise plans for a variety of people with different needs. Getting people in the door to participate once is one thing. It’s a lot harder to get them coming back. Kate has increased our numbers with her programming and enthusiasm. They say, ‘Hey, this is beneficial, but it’s also fun.’”
Generations is a non-profit community center dedicated to the health and wellness of Plymouth-area citizens. It strives to bring people of all ages together for a variety of energizing, cutting-edge activities. Brown says the center has members between the ages of 4 and 104.
Kate, a native of Mundelein, Ill., enjoys all of them.
“I love working with people, so this is perfect,” she says. “I really enjoy what I’m doing and want to help out here as much as possible. Honestly, they’re willing to pay me to do something I’d volunteer to do.”
Kate has always been crazy about sports. She was a basketball and softball standout in high school, and after choosing Lakeland to play softball, she was named the program’s hardest worker in 2013. But, after that season, she stepped away from the sport to focus on her academics and career path.
Now she’s planning, creating and leading everything from tee-ball leagues for youngsters to cardio programs for members of all ages to arthritis prevention and management classes for older members.
Kate says she has learned a lot in Lakeland’s exercise science and sport studies program, and she enjoys her life as a Lakeland College Muskie.
“I am outdoorsy, so I love this area,” she says. “And I especially love that Lakeland is so family oriented. Everyone says ‘Hi’ to everyone.”
Her friendly personality, enthusiasm for exercise and innovative programming have been a big hit at Generations, says Brown.
“We would love to have her here for the next 20 years, but I’m smart enough to know that’s probably not going to happen,” he adds with a smile.
“The smartest thing I can do now is just get out of her way and let her shine.”