Our Team Is On Your Team

Varsity Spirit is proud of current and former members of our summer camp staff who are on the front lines right now. We are all in this together. Our team is on your team, and we will be cheering you on until we see the end of this. From our Varsity Spirit family to yours, thank you for all you do to keep us safe!

Amy Beneke

NDA

Amy Beneke

NDA

Years on staff: 6

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse in an Outpatient surgery clinic

Fun Fact: My almost two year old daughter has been taking dance class since she was 14 months old. She’s already got better rhythm than my husband (which isn’t hard) and starts dancing anytime she hears music.

Favorite staff memory:
Spending countless hours at Applebee’s in Emporia and getting to travel the country from California to New York with my closest friends.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I’ve been fascinated with medicine for as long as I can remember. I find nothing more relatable than learning how the human body works and how to help treat it in times of need.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
? I would recommend to anyone wanting to become a nurse to shadow or volunteer in different areas of nursing so you have a better idea of what are you might want to work in. I love nursing because there are countless different opportunities within the same profession so if one area of nursing isn’t for you, there are hundreds of different options that can fit within your desired interests.

Vanessa Burgin

UDA

Vanessa Burgin

UDA

Years on staff: 4

Current Occupation: Acute Care Physical Therapist

Favorite staff memory:
Summer training in Lake Geneva, WI! Seeing all the staff to kick off the summer was always one of my favorite times of the year.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I always knew I wanted to work in the medical field but I didn't know in what capacity. I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in people's live somehow. Being a dancer my whole life and into fitness gave me the background to understand the human body and how it moved making physical therapy was the right fit for me.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
For someone wanting to get into Physical therapy, I would tell them to observe as many different aspects of the filed that you can. You can work in a variety of settings and specialties that the possibilities are endless. Plus, at the end of the day, you go home knowing that one more life is better because of your work as physical therapist.

Emily Cain

UCA

Emily Cain

UCA

Years on staff: 1

Current Occupation: Labor and Delivery Nurse

Fun fact: I met my husband Logan Cain training for selections for the US National Team and my lifelong best friend Jade Morgan during UCA Staff!

Favorite staff memory:
Being able to instruct the most respected college cheer programs in the country and to work alongside staff members I had looked up to for years was so humbling and rewarding. But my favorite part about college staff was each city had its own tradition whether it was an activity or a local restaurant spot. There was always an intentional strive for building community and friendship among staff members. Although I only did staff for one year I immediately felt like I was welcome and a part of something special. The nostalgia and experience was incredible and I made deep, personal lifelong friendships!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I have always had an interest in women’s health and obstetrics specifically. My mom was a labor and delivery nurse and I remember hearing all of her incredible stories when I was young. I am amazed at the ability of a woman’s body to grow another human being and bring it into the world. It is the most empowering and vulnerable experience of their life all in one moment. I feel so blessed that I get to support women through that process.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
My advice to someone going into this field would be the importance of self care and knowing what you’re getting into. Many people think OB nursing is the “easy route” and always happy. It is a rewarding job but it is also extremely stressful and fast-paced. We are highly specialized and responsible for making sure these babies come into the world safely and moms don’t get harmed in the process. Things don’t always go as planned when dealing with childbirth and high risk pregnancies so you must be able handle emergency situations, navigate the operating room, and also learn to cope with loss when that happens.

Rena Chayanam

NCA

Rena Chayanam

NCA

Years on staff: 12

Current Occupation: Travel Registered Nurse- Labor and Delivery

Fun fact: I absolutely love traveling and learning about the culture in other countries! Of the seven countries I have traveled to, 6 of them were for volunteer medical missions, study abroad, and NCA’s Far East camp in Japan.

Favorite staff memory:
Hands down, receiving my NCA 10 year RING! There was an outpour of love from my NCA family/friends making the tribute to me an amazing and emotional night. Every year is an accomplishment, but to celebrate a decade for your commitment in doing something you love is indescribable.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I have family who are nurses/advanced practice nurses, so the path to work in healthcare kind of fell into my lap.
I currently work in labor and delivery, something I never saw myself doing. I went on my first medical mission in the Philippines where I lived, worked and delivered babies at a birth center for a month with no prior experience. Its a really beautiful specialty that I have learned to love. I love the surge of adrenaline when we help bring a new life/lives into the world. I love that I can hold a hand during a loss, and celebrate a new life. I love the teamwork, the challenges, the happy and not so happy moments, because it allows me to grow personally and professionally.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
It is one of the most challenging yet humbling and rewarding careers, in my eyes. Nursing is an incredibly vast field, full of opportunities. You can travel (like me!) or work in different specialties when you need a change of pace.
If you have a passion and feel drawn to medicine, definitely explore your options, and just go for it!

Hayley Cox

NCA

Hayley Cox

NCA

Years on staff: 5

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse - Emergency Department

Fun fact: I have the cutest golden retriever pup named Chewy, short for Chewbacca.

Favorite staff memory:
Late night Sonic trips after camp with all my favorite staff friends!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I previously had a corporate job and decided I wanted to do something where I got to help people directly, so I went back to school for nursing. I chose the emergency department for the fast pace and the variety that comes with having so many different types of patients.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
It can be hard work, and you have to be able to adapt quickly and often. But you get to learn every day - your coworkers will get you through and you’ll have patients and families who make it all worth it.

Delilah Davila

UCA

Delilah Davila

UCA

Years on staff: 1

Current Occupation: ICU Registered Nurse

Fun fact: I love Beyoncé and Harry Potter.

Favorite staff memory:
Working at the UT camp during private coaching I was giving my team feedback and said something along the lines of “you guys are doing great I just need...” My team started to giggle because I said “you guys” instead of y’all. Becauase of that moments, I now use y’all all the time.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I think, like a lot of people who work in healthcare, I love to help people!

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
For many people when they’re in the hospital it tends to be the worst day of their life. Try to remember that, especially if they are being mean or rude. Try to stop and listen, and show compassion. No one wants to be in the hospital but you can make or break their experience! You have the power to make their day a little better!

Peter Domenig

UCA

Peter Domenig

UCA

Years on staff: 7

Current Occupation: Surgical Resident

Fun fact: I love to sing even though I am terrible, and try to go to karaoke once a month!

Favorite staff memory:
Working Panama City with my favorite staff that had worked together for almost 4 years, and coming up with the best boogie chants.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I love the challenge of medicine with some of the physical aspects of surgery. Very few jobs have the same impact as surgery does.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Make sure that medicine is something you are passionate about. To become a physician, its a marathon not a sprint and takes many years of dedicated study. Above all enjoy being a student and you will succeed.

Jenessa Dyke

USA

Jenessa Dyke

USA

Years on staff: 5
Current occupation: Chiropractor

Fun fact: I'm currently still a judge for Varsity Competitions!

Favorite memory from staff:
The lifelong friends that I get to keep in contact with to this day!!!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I knew since I was a child that I wanted to work with my hands to help people. Through my experience from gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading I found chiropractic, and I hope to inspire young athletes to learn how to take care of themselves from the inside out- from the beginnings of their athletic careers through the rest of their lives!

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
It's not the easiest profession to get into or be successful in - there are long and hard days leading up to getting your license, and the long hard days continue once you're out in practice. That being said - the ability to help people, to take their pain away, to help their bodies function better, and to help them lead their healthiest life? I wouldn't trade what I get do every day for absolutely ANYTHING!

Jake Farkas

UCA

Jake Farkas

UCA

Years on staff: 3

Current occupation: Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Fun fact: Graduated #1 in my class

Favorite memory from staff:
Working the Pine Forest camps. They have some of the best kids out there!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I enjoyed math and science, but I knew I always wanted to help people in the medical field. So, I took a career test for medical fields and it came up with NucMed. I shadowed the position and fell in love with it.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
This career is for someone who really understands physiology and anatomy. In nuclear medicine, we image physiologic processes within the body. The programs are very limited in the states, for example, Indiana only has one program. If you want in, you got to keep your head down and your grades up!

Erin Finch

UCA

Erin Finch

UCA

Years on staff: 10
Current occupation: Registered Nurse

Fun fact: Although I was on UCA Staff, I didn’t really cheer beyond or before high school. I actually danced from age 3-14 and I danced in college on a student run hip- hop team called Fordham Flava!

Favorite memory from staff:
My very first Pine Forest Camp- summer 2008!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
According to my family, I’ve said that I want to be a nurse since I could talk. I’m a huge science nerd and the human body is fascinating! And I love feeling like I make a difference, even in some small way.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Be okay with being human. It’s okay to cry with your patients, it’s okay to feel scared, it’s okay to get attached, and it’s okay to feel happy when your patients are doing well. All of that goes along with all the awesome clinical knowledge that you use every day to do what you do. Knowledge is important but don’t forget your humanity; it’s part of being a good nurse.

Meghan Floyd

UCA

Meghan Floyd

UCA

Years on staff: 3

Current Occupation: Behavioral Health Clinician

Fun fact: I was a member of the 2016 US National All Girl Team! World Champs!

Favorite staff memory:
I loved the opportunity to travel to Colorado to work one of the camps there. It was so fun and I met so many new friends.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I work in behavioral health because I can help people change their lives, and in some cases, save them.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
I would tell anyone wanting to go into behavioral health to care for yourself, so you can care for others.

Ashley Hall

USA

Ashley Hall

USA

Years on staff: 7

Current Occupation: Environmental Services Aide

Fun fact: I have judged and taught cheerleading in Japan

Favorite staff memory:
Staff training always creates some of my most cherished memories, all of my favorite people in one place doing what we love!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose to work in infection control to get my foot in the door with healthcare. This job has given me insight into healthcare and has continued to motivate me to go further to pursue my nursing degree.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Healthcare is a very fulfilling job getting to help others and serve your community, work hard and pursue what you love!

Carrie Harris

UDA

Carrie Harris

UDA

Years on staff: 5

Current Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist

Fun fact: I want to own a winery in Napa Valley!

Favorite staff memory:
Staff training always creates some of my most cherished memories, all of my favorite people in one place doing what we love!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I believe Communication and Swallowing (eating) are two of the most important things we do and I love connecting with others!

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Becoming a Speech Pathologist is hard work and totally worth it!

Calin Holley

NCA

Calin Holley

NCA

Years on staff: 6
Current occupation: Registered Nurse in the Neuroscience ICU at the University of Mississippi Medical Center

Fun fact: The Junior Level 3 team I help coach won NCA this year! Punches Punches Punches, Punch Harder!

Favorite memory from staff:
I had the opportunity to go to Maine and work a camp at Husson University. I loved getting to meet and work with staffers from the Northeast region. The camp was so much fun, and I had the sweetest buddy team.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Ask a lot of questions and never be afraid to ask for help. I'm so thankful I work with some really amazing people who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Kassie Hurst

NDA

Kassie Hurst

NDA

Years on staff: 10

Current Occupation: Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

Fun fact: My golden retriever Duke is a registered Therapy Dog and goes to the Hospital with me to visit patients!

Favorite staff memory:
So many to choose from! Working NDA All-Star Nationals a few years ago was an amazing experience. I was able to judge and work the event with some of my best friends and make so many memories I will never forget, including late night runs to In-N-Out!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I've always been interested in medicine and I have several family members in the field. I knew I wanted to work in women's health after my OB rotation in nursing school. Women are truly amazing! I now work with a Perinatology group and help manage/treat women with high risk pregnancies.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
When working in the healthcare field it is vital to work as a team! Work hard and learn as much as you can from your classmates and colleagues. Working in healthcare is an exhausting profession at times, but The Work Is Worth It!

John Kelly

UCA

John Kelly

UCA

Years on staff: 2

Current Occupation: Research Chemist

Fun fact: I met my wife cheering. We were both attending graduate school at Ole Miss.

Favorite staff memory:
UCA Summer Training at the University of Mississippi where all of my fellow staffers came to my college to prep for the Summer.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I was always interested in all STEM areas. Later in life I found a calling for developing innovative technologies for today’s problems. These things you can’t learn in a classroom and the solution does exist yet.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
The job that you are training for in school does not yet exist. Try to learn more than what is on the test and diversify on what you are good at. Learn a second language. Travel the world. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. Learn to verbalize what you are thinking. Listen to other before you speak.

EV Kuzma

UCA

EV Kuzma

UCA

Years on staff: 6

Current Occupation: Labor & Delivery RN

Fun fact:4 of my 8 bridesmaids were friends from UCA Staff!

Favorite staff memory:
Summer Trainings! I loved everyone getting to be together and bonding, making memories.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth in general. A woman's labor and delivery is one of the most defining moments of her life and moments in which she feels the most vulnerable. I love getting to coach a woman through labor. I use a lot of what I learned on staff to help be a better labor coach. It's amazing to get to encourage and help a woman in the throes of labor when they feel like they can't give anymore. I love seeing their face the moment the baby is born. It's so rewarding!

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
When I was a rookie on staff, I had a great HI tell us before every camp: ``This may be your tenth camp in a row and you may be exhausted. But this camp is the ONLY camp these campers get and they are so excited to see you. Remember that when you go out there; you're a rock star to them, so make it fun.`` It's easy to get bogged down by busy days on the unit, short staffing, and hospital administration policies. Not everyday at work is easy. But, I always remember what Greg used to tell us. It may be my third 12 hour shift in a row, but it's the patient's only birth experience they will get with that baby. I strive to make it a good one. I would tell anyone wanting to be an L&D nurse the same thing; always keep your compassion and remember it's all about the patient.

Kailee Lynn

NCA

Kailee Lynn

NCA

Years on staff: 2

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse- Emergency Department

Fun fact:I own a white French bulldog named Delilah!

Favorite staff memory:
My favorite memory would be working my first camp alone with a middle school team. I was a bit nervous but once I met the team they were so awesome. They were eager to learn and so hardworking! You could just tell how much they idolized me and looked up to me wearing NCA across my chest. It was a very rewarding experience and is a memory and feeling I won’t forget.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I choose to work in the ER because I am the type of person who loves a challenge and is always wanting to learn new things. I knew that in the ER, I would be challenged every time I put on my scrubs and go to work because it is an environment that is continuously changing. You never know what is going to come through the door of the ER! It keeps me on my toes.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
The advice I have for anyone wanting to become a nurse is to never give up! The challenges and hard work is definitely worth it, so stick with it. Always believe in yourself. The profession is so rewarding!

Alexis Martin-Entler

NCA

Alexis Martin-Entler

NCA

Years on staff: 5

Current occupation: Emergency Department Scribe

Fun fact: I have a 3 month old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Ezra!

Favorite memory from staff:
My favorite staff memories include staying up and doing paperwork in the dorms with all my fellow staffers. It is so fun vegging out and talking all while getting stuff done to make camp special for every team!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose to become a scribe because I have been interested in becoming a physician since I was 12 years old. My mother was an emergency department nurse, now a fertility and women's health nurse practitioner, while my stepfather is a family physician. I wanted to get direct exposure to medicine to see what being a doctor is all about and found that scribing would be a great way to gain that experience. This profession is a great stepping stone to becoming a physician.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Explore all your options! There are so many different paths in medicine from what role you take to what specialty you get involved in. With so many options, you are bound to find an area that you love!

Scott Mazelis

UCA

Scott Mazelis

UCA

Years on staff: 10

Current occupation: Firefighter / Paramedic

Fun fact: As a rookie I struggled so much I went to two staff trainings.

Favorite memory from staff:
The people. Most fun, most dependable, craziest young men and women I’ve ever been around.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I'm not really sure. It sparked my interest and seemed like something I would enjoy, so I went for it.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
It’s definitely not for everyone. There are long hours and it's physically and mentally demanding. For me, the reward far outweighs the demands. If you are looking for something that will keep you on your toes, this is something I would suggest.

Taylor Mckenzie

UCA

Taylor Mckenzie

UCA

Years on staff: 3

Current occupation: Operating Room Assistant ... soon to be Registered Nurse!

Fun fact: I spent a month in England in the summer of 2019!

Favorite memory from staff:
Meeting my “family”, work week, teaching dances, & seeing a team’s excitement when hitting a new skill.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I have always loved to help people and make a difference in the lives of others. I am a natural caregiver and I enjoy inspiring others. I don’t think of nursing as a job, it is something that I love to do.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
It is not always easy but, if you’re heart is in it, you will get so much fulfillment from it. You will never be bored with a career in nursing, there are so many places you can take it... and as we can see from this pandemic... you will always have a job because nurses are essential!

Lisa Mikolajczyk

UCA

Lisa Mikolajczyk

UCA

Years on staff: 4

Current Occupation: Pediatric Registered Nurse

Fun fact: Nursing is my second degree, my first is in Exercise Science

Favorite staff memory:
Jumping in the pool at the end of the summer with my staff family at Pine Forest!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I wanted to work with children and families in the most vulnerable and scary times of their lives and be able to help them through it.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Nursing education is continuous and doesn’t stop with school. I learn something new every day. Don’t be discouraged by not having all the answers, just bring the best that you can each day in that moment and eventually you will get there!

Lacey (Taylor) Noffsinger

UCA

Lacey (Taylor) Noffsinger

UCA

Years on staff: 15

Current Occupation: Pediatric Emergency Room Nurse

Fun fact: My next career goal is to get my masters in nursing education. I truly believe my love for teaching goes back to my UCA days. There are so many lessons I learned on staff that I continue to use when lecturing and teaching healthcare professionals.

Favorite staff memory:
So many! Bowling parties, jumping in the river at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State), the Frying Pan, Devil’s Backbone, Sardines, traveling around the country and meeting the most amazing people who would become life-long friends.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
When I was a little girl, a family friend who was an ER nurse would tell the greatest stories. I always loved science & helping people so what better job to go into than nursing. I’ve always loved kids and the constant change with emergency medicine.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Go for it! And once you are a nurse (or really in any field), continue to learn. Medicine is constantly changing and you will have to adapt over the years. Also, it’s okay to be comfortable and confident in your field once you get experience. However when you are too comfortable and confident, errors can occur and you really need to evaluate yourself. It’s a fine balance.

Caris Norway

NCA

Caris Norway

NCA

Years on staff: 4

Current Occupation: Pediatric Registered Nurse

Fun fact: I went to my first NCA camp when I was 6 years old and performed in the Orange Bowl Special Event that year!

Favorite staff memory:
Being able to represent NCA staff at this years Varsity Spirit spectacular in Disney World and meet campers from all over the country!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
Just like I love seeing our smiling campers every summer, I love going into work and seeing the smiling faces for all the kids I care for! Children are the future of our world and I love every opportunity to inspire greatness in them. I feel that it is important to be the light in the world. As a nurse, I have the chance to be that light for so many kids. Even if it is just through a simple smile.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
The schooling for being a nurse is no easy feat, but it is worth every ounce of effort.

Lizzi Palla

NCA

Lizzi Palla

NCA

Years on staff: 7

Current Occupation: Registered Radiologic Technologist and a Mammographer

Fun fact: I am one of the coaches at New Oxford High School, from New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and we placed 13th at NHSCC 2020

Favorite staff memory:
Being invited to the Dallas corporate office to tour the brand new facility during our head instructor meeting.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
My advice for someone looking to get into medical imaging is to always be kind. Patients come to us scared and often times in a lot of pain, and something as simple as a smile is enough to change the course of their time with us.

Kelsey Pett

NCA

Kelsey Pett

NCA

Years on staff: 5

Current Occupation: Labor and Delivery Nurse

Fun fact: I won a trivia contest on a cruise- the topic was The Office!

Favorite staff memory:
My favorite would be traveling to Pennsylvania and experiencing a camp at Bryn Mawr. The staff was so welcoming and we made memories to last a lifetime.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose nursing because I love patient care and getting to be there for people. Helping people has always been a passion of mine.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
To people aspiring to be a nurse I would tell them to let their passion for the career lead them through the good and challenging times. It is very tough but even more rewarding.

Tyler Pipes

UCA

Tyler Pipes

UCA

Years on staff: 7

Current occupation: Firefighter/EMT

Fun fact: My station houses two firetrucks, three dive boats and all of the departments dive gear. There are 8 firefighters stationed here for 24 hours at a time.

Favorite memory from staff:
I always loved running out to meet the campers at the beginning of each camp.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I’ve always enjoyed helping people in need and this is a great and exciting way to do it. Being a part of the community has always been important to me.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Always be eager to learn new techniques to accomplish tasks. Never stop training to be better physically and mentally. Don’t forget to bring a good attitude with you everywhere you go!

Jena Prewitt

NCA

Jena Prewitt

NCA

Years on staff: 10

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse in the Cardio-Pulmonary Transplant Unit at Baptist Memorial Hospital

Fun fact: I have worked every region within NCA from Washington to Maine.

Favorite staff memory:
After 10 years with this company the memories are truly endless and treasured, but if I had to choose a particular moment it’s the first time that I was able to run out for opening rally to “NCA staff come on out!!”

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
While completing my first degree, I was involved in a serious accident. The nursing staff were involved in so much of the acute care and my recovery that I decided to pursue an additional degree in nursing so hopefully I could be that person for someone else.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
My advice is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, while it can be hard this is the area where you will truly experience growth. Keep working hard and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Mattie Royal

NCA

Mattie Royal

NCA

Years on staff: 4

Current Occupation: Child Life

Fun fact: I’m obsessed with golden retrievers!

Favorite staff memory:
Getting to do staff with my brother every summer is always so much fun!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I love kids and I have always had an interest in the medical field. I chose Child Life because I want to serve children and their families while they’re are going through some of the toughest times of their life.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Be patient and keep at it. It takes time, but it is worth it!

Miguel Sanchez

USA

Miguel Sanchez

USA

Years on staff: 6
Current occupation: Patient Care Assistant/Unit Clerk for Med Surg Floor/Student Nurse
Fun fact: I'm working on my BSN and Sports Med!

Favorite memory from staff: My favorite memory on USA Staff out of all the amazing memories I have made was for sure my 2nd year Unity Summer Camp in Santa Cruz when all of our pep flag campers threw flags in the air when we were taking a camp picture and all the incredible friendships we created. This was for sure a UNITY camp to remember!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I love the medical field because I can make a different in people's life every day- from the moment the come onto our floor to the moment they leave the hospital. I work at CMRC Fresno, which is the Level 1 Trauma center in the Central Valley in California. On my floor, which is the Medical surgical Floor, we have patients from many aspects in the medical field; psychiatric, OBGYN, Trauma, Orthopedic and Comfort Care patients. I have had the opportunity increase my knowledge by assisting in rapid response codes and blue codes, assisting nurses and doctors with many aspects of health care. My parents and nursing has taught me the importance of caring for people and to value everything we have because we honestly don't know when things could be taken from us.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Advice I would give someone going into the health care field is to have genuine passion and care for people. We have patients who are going through a very hard time in their lives and sometimes they take their anger out on us. This is were you have to remember why we do this and remember we are doing what we are doing to help them recover. It gets tough and loving this line of work makes everything so much more rewarding.

Jillian Schreiber

UDA

Jillian Schreiber

UDA

Years on staff: 1
Current occupation: Plastic Surgery Resident Physician
Fun fact: My favorite trip was meeting kangaroos in Australia.

Favorite memory from staff: Helping dancers improve their technique and build confidence. Also seeing my friends and coaches from my prior dance team at UDA competitions!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
Plastic surgery allows me to help people feel whole while using artistry and creativity.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Never let fear of failure keep you from going after your dreams. Always remember to be kind and to treat others like they were a member of your own family.

Megan Smith

NDA

Megan Smith

NDA

Years on staff: 1
Current occupation: Pharmacy Intern
Fun fact: I am graduating with my PharmD in May 2023! In my free time I like to go rock climbing and work on research projects with the professors at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

Favorite memory from staff: My favorite memory from being a part of NDA staff was when NDA Britney challenged the Kansas City camp to the Rolex Remix Challenge. The campers were so creative with their videos, and we even got involved as staff members. Even though I was only on staff for a short time due to other obligations, NDA has taught me so much about self-confidence and positivity. There are so many memories from this experience that have shaped me into become a better version of myself. I would just like to say thank you to everyone on NDA staff, and I miss you guys so much!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
Hospital Pharmacy, during this time as an intern I deliver medicine to the patients, and compound the I.V. medications.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Don’t give up! It is extremely challenging to push yourself that hard mentally, and not everyone understands how hard it is to become a pharmacist. You can do it, but don’t do it by yourself. People love and care about you, and want to see you succeed. Surround yourself with those people, and if you cannot find those people, join NDA staff and surround yourself with a family.

Brittany Smith Rash

UDA

Brittany Smith Rash

UDA

Years on staff: 4

Current Occupation: Clinical Pharmacist at University of Kentucky Healthcare

Fun fact: Besides dance, my favorite sport is basketball! I’m a huge Kentucky Wildcats fan! C-A-T-S — CATS CATS CATS!

Favorite staff memory:
There are so many, so this is really tough! One that stands out is my first overnight camp at Tennessee Tech University in the summer of 2012. The instant bonding with the staff who have become some of my forever friends (one who was a bridesmaid in my wedding) was such a special feeling. I’ll never forget those smiling faces of the eager dancers at Camp Kick Off! It was just an incredible experience I am so lucky to have gotten to live.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose pharmacy because pharmacists are noted as the mode accessible healthcare providers. Think about it...you can right walk into your local pharmacy and speak with your pharmacist right on the spot! Where I work in clinical pharmacy, I get to be really hands on with adjusting medication dosages and recommending medication regimens for patients to the doctor. I get to build lasting relationships with my patients and with the healthcare team at my institution. It’s a very rewarding day to day experience. Even during the tough days, like the current ones during this COVID-19, I never take for granted that I get to serve others and keep them safe and healthy. This is what keeps me motivated to come in to work everyday despite the fears surrounding COVID-19.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Yes you will study A LOT. Yes it will be challenging BUT remember to take time away from pharmacy to do the things that feed your spirit. For me this was dance, traveling, and spending time with my friends and family. UDA was my outlet to meet all of these needs while I was in pharmacy school and still is to this day. It gave me the perfect break from the intense pharmacy school year. Staying involved through judging regional and national competitions still allows me to take a break from the pharmacy world and immerse myself into the dance world, travel, and spend time with some of my favorite people in the world.

Laci Spengler

NCA

Laci Spengler

NCA

Years on staff: 2

Current Occupation: Certified Nurse Midwife

Fun fact: Native Texan, I moved to Florida last year to work at a freestanding birthing center. I love yoga and the beach!

Favorite staff memory:
Late night sonic runs after long days in the heat and friendships with staff. I’m pretty sure I’ve never laughed as hard in my life as I did when the staff got together and goofed around.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I grew up traveling every chance I could get and became very passionate about helping the underserved, so I decided to become a nurse. After spending a year in Africa as a RN, I saw several troubling outcomes and wanted to further my education and become a midwife. My biggest passions are serving mothers and families with a holistic approach and reducing the health care disparities seen throughout the world.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Midwifery is a calling and such a privilege; we get to walk with women through the sweetest times in life and also the hardest. Practically, I would recommend becoming a doula or a birth assistant/nurse before making the decision to go into the profession to see if it’s really for you. Oh and make sure you’re up for late nights… coffee will be a necessity if you decide to become a midwife!

Devin Ulstad

UCA

Devin Ulstad

UCA

Years on staff: 5

Current Occupation: Psychiatric Nursing Assistant and Non-Clinical Lead in COVID-19 Staging Center at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics

Favorite staff memory:
My favorite memory from staff is travelling to all the new locations and meeting new people. I also love seeing teams that I had at camp when they compete at regionals and national competitions.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I plan on going to medical school, and I wanted to know what each job in the hospital entails before jumping into the deep end. I chose psychiatry as my immediate path to work with patients with mental illness that are overlooked. Mental health matters just as much as physical health, and I want to help share that message.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Be willing to learn from everyone; from nursing assistants to nurses to doctors, everyone has knowledge that can share. Also, each interaction with a person could be the one that makes their day a great one, so treat everyone kindly and always take time to listen.

Brittney Wallace (Hobbs)

UCA

Brittney Wallace (Hobbs)

UCA

Years on staff: 2

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse

Fun fact: I was on the Indianapolis Colts Blue Stampede Stunt and Tumbling team.

Favorite staff memory:
My favorite memory would be meeting such awesome people on staff that have turned into lasting friendships to this day.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose nursing when I was 16 and in ICU. Since then, I now work alongside the nurse and doctor that saved my life 15 years ago. I also wanted to be in a profession where I could help someone and be there for them during their most vulnerable days.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Out of all the years of schooling... No one ever sat us down in class and told us we will see things people aren't meant to see. I say that to say... It’s OKAY to NOT be okay!!

Sara Widhelm

UDA

Sara Widhelm

UDA

Years on staff: 3
Current occupation: Registered Nurse
Fun fact: A fun fact about me is that I am a mom to the most perfect little 7 month old boy named Crew (definitely unbiased). I am also a dance team coach at Elkhorn South High School. Shout out to my favorite girls!

Favorite memory from staff:
I have SO many amazing memories from my time on UDA Staff it’s hard to choose. However, every year to kick off the summer we attend a staff training. Not only do we get to learn and review the material taught all summer, but we also get to bond with the staff in our region, as well as a other regions around the country. Although it is an exhausting week, we get the opportunity to create memories and friendships that last a lifetime!

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose to be a nurse because I have a passion for caring for people in their most vulnerable conditions. Creating a bond built on trust and confidence with my patients and their families is my favorite part of my career.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Do it! Work hard, study, and apply yourself. There are so many avenues you can go with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Between acute care, clinics, school nurses, research, etc., there is a perfect ‘home’ for everyone. Oh, and go to class 🙂

Alissa Withers

USA

Alissa Withers

USA

Years on staff: 5

Current Occupation: Resolution Specialist at Kaiser Permanente

Fun fact: I was featured on the Ellen Show

Favorite staff memory:
Going to staff training each year and being around my Eagle family.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I decided to work in the healthcare field because I have a desire to help people. Being able to help people get the care they need is a great feeling.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
If I could provide a piece of advice to someone, I would encourage them to never give up. Working in the healthcare field can be challenging at times but the hard work and dedication is work it!

Sarah Zeisser

UDA

Sarah Zeisser

UDA

Years on staff: I joined the UDA Family in 1993. I taught high school and college camps, off and on until 2002. I have been a Varsity judge for NDTC and the National Collegiate Dance Team Championships since 1995.

Current Occupation: Registered Nurse for SSM Health in Wisconsin. Before the pandemic, my primary nursing job was in GI in an outpatient endoscopy center where I cared for patients perioperatively. Currently, I have been working in a COVID testing center and upper respiratory infection urgent care, floating in several facilities where needed.

Fun fact: I married my high school sweetheart, Jon. We've been together for 28 years, married for 21. It was the best decision I have ever made. We have two children, Justin and Bailey, and a boxer named Marshall.

Favorite staff memory:
I loved college camp demo practice. The hours were long, but the family bond was strong, supportive, and loving. We loved dancing and cheering and we loved each other. We worked hard, laughed a lot and shed some tears, but some of my very best friends are the ones I made on the blue mat. The staff came from all over the country. We came from different schools, had different backgrounds, different beliefs, but we were all united and bonded in our love for our sport and sharing it with others.

Why did you choose the field that you work in?
I chose nursing because I am fascinated by science and how the body works and love to educate others about their medical conditions and take care of themselves. I care about people; my patient may only see me once per week, once per month or even once per year, I want to make sure they feel welcomed, well-cared for, and supported. I want them to feel comfortable to share their questions, feelings, and concerns. I want to give them the tools and information they need to live a healthy and happy life.
My patients are scared and vulnerable, especially in current circumstances. It is my calling to comfort them, to act as their advocate, to care for them through this moment and beyond. I will hold their hand during hardships and I will celebrate with them when they heal. I will care for them when they are unable to care for themselves. I feel it is an honor and a privilege to serve others. I am humbled by the opportunity to care for people in need.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into your profession?
Every patient is also a person. Be patient. Be empathetic. Be kind.