Whether through academics, her job as an RA, or volunteer activities, Fall 2017 Health and Exercise Science outstanding grad McKayla Stoltenberg made a point of challenging herself and getting the most out of her experiences at Colorado State University.
Stoltenberg was born and raised in Colorado Springs. It was her brother who initially piqued her interest in CSU. “My brother was going to CSU while I was looking at colleges,” she said. “He loved CSU and spoke highly of the culture, opportunities, and experiences. I loved the CSU campus, all the open green spaces, and the welcoming nature of campus from my first visit. Even though I applied to other schools, CSU was always were I wanted to go.”
Stoltenberg was involved in a number of volunteer activities at CSU, while also maintaining a 3.8 GPA. She was a member of the Wellness Club and volunteered with the Special Olympics, which was one of her favorite events. She was also involved in the Navigators. Through the campus ministry, she spent one of her summers doing a leadership training program at the YMCA of the Rockies and another summer working at the summer camp, Eagle Lake Camp near Colorado Springs.
Through her community nutrition class, she volunteered at the Mathew’s House for a semester helping children in an after school program and then developed a nutrition intervention for them. She was involved in the Food and Nutrition Club for a year, where she was able to learn more about food and volunteered at a local farm.
“McKayla is prepared and active in her classes and leads quietly by example,” said Wendy DeYoung, faculty member in the Department of Health and Exercise Science. “She is never shy about helping others, donating her time and talents to the CSU and Fort Collins communities, and making the most of every situation she becomes involved with. She has been an ideal student and will represent our department and university well as she graduates this December and begins her professional journey.”
Stoltenberg was a Resident Assistant for three years and worked the front desk of the residence halls, positively impacting students’ lives. “Through this role I had the opportunity to mentor incoming students and do my small part in making a difference for the students on campus, one conversation at a time,” she said. “Although there were difficult moments, I look back at the experience with appreciation – for how much I was challenged, how much I grew in confidence and assurance, and for the lifelong friendships I made.”
Stoltenberg learned about the value of friendship and support during her time at CSU. Her brother graduated after her first semester at CSU and she expected to be on her own. But her personal and professional experiences proved otherwise. “The deepened friendships I made that first spring semester are part of why I was able to make it to graduation,” she said. “We stuck with each other through all the academic, relationship, and health challenges that we faced throughout college. My RA supervisors assured me that I had all the support I needed. I also knew that my professors were always willing to help with academics and were looking out for my best interest.”
Stoltenberg recently completed her internship at Green Mountain at Fox Run in Vermont, a female health and fitness resort. “McKayla has been a wonderful asset to our program here at Green Mountain at Fox Run,” said Bibiana Sampaio, fitness manager. “She is hardworking, dedicated, creative, and passionate about bringing health, fitness, and fun into everyone’s life here. She has positively impacted not just the program, but everyone around her. As McKayla begins her new professional chapter, her unique ideas will continue as part of our program.”
Fond memories of CSU
Stoltenberg is already looking back fondly on her college experience. “I am going to remember the people and experiences I had with friends,” she said. “Hiking the ‘A’ during Ram Welcome; helping my roommate build her first snowman ever; playing intramural soccer; Friday night dinners at Braiden with cupcakes and then going to NavNite; and attending volleyball and basketball games. It is these experiences that I will cherish and that made all the studying and tests worthwhile. Through these experiences, I was able to understand who I am, what my passions are, and that what I say and do has power and is important.”
“There are so many wonderful people who are making CSU and the world a better place through following their passions,” she said. “It was amazing to be a part of a campus that cares so much for each other and the community. I was challenged and inspired daily by the students and faculty. The culture of CSU is so unique in that even though we are a larger university, we have a small campus feel. I loved walking through campus and seeing people that I knew from class, or a club, or one of my residents or fellow RAs.”
After graduation, Stoltenberg hopes to find job where she can help people using her creativity, while being passionate about the work she is doing. “I hope to inspire people to live healthier lives,” she said. “To find joy in movement again, to empower them to believe that they can positively influence their health, and to give them the knowledge, skills, and tools to succeed.”
The Department of Health and Exercise Science is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.