Heits ’21, Braun ’21 honored by SHAPE Nebraska
Doane University seniors Haylee Heits ’21 and Mitchell Braun ’21 have been honored by SHAPE Nebraska (Society of Health & Physical Educators) as the Outstanding Exercise Science and Health Education Majors of the Year.
Each year, SHAPE Nebraska honors exceptional health and physical education college students in Nebraska, recognizing them with an “Outstanding Major of the Year” award in seven different programs -- athletic training, exercise science, health behaviors, health education, physical education, public health, and sport management. This year, Doane was the only institution in Nebraska to have multiple students earn recognition as an “Outstanding Major of the Year” from SHAPE.
Heits, who was named the Outstanding Exercise Science Major of the Year, is very involved at Doane. She is serving as the President of the Athletic Training/Sports Medicine club, is a member of the Doane Health Professions Club, has been a four-year starter on the women’s basketball team, and is involved in the Catholic Newman club, Alpha Lamda Delta National Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and Cardinal Key National Honor Society. Heits has also been voted as the women’s basketball leadership team representative and is the Student Chair for Doane Athletics’ COVID policies and procedures for the 2020-21 academic year.
Academically, Heits has been named to the Dean’s List each semester she has been enrolled at Doane and has been named a GPAC and NAIA Scholar Athlete.
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by SHAPE Nebraska as the Exercise Science Major of the Year,” Heits said. “As an underclassman, I remember seeing seniors get this honor and I dreamt it would be me someday.”
“Haylee is a great leader that can relate to everyone,” said Greg Seier, Director of Health and Human Performance at Doane. “She has been very valuable to our Sports Medicine staff and has worked hard to keep our Doane Athletic Training (DAT) program running the last two years. In the classroom, she is always prepared, asks great questions, and can relate her physical therapy internship experiences to our topic of discussion for class that day.”
The root of Heits’ passion for physical therapy comes from when she tore her ACL in high school and spent a great deal of time with physical therapists rehabbing her injury. After her final semester at Doane, Heits plans to continue her education to pursue a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree.
“Doane has prepared me in so many ways for my next chapter,” she said. “I have learned so much from the classroom, from my coaches, and from my involvement in extracurriculars. It has most importantly helped me learn more about myself and has brought out so many things in me that I didn’t know I had.”
Joining Heits to be recognized by SHAPE Nebraska is Mitchell Braun, a Doane senior honored as the Outstanding Health Education Major of the Year. Braun is a bit older than most undergraduate students on the Crete campus, as he served in the United States Marine Corps prior to taking classes at Doane.
Braun was an Infantry Marine and Forward Observer, serving as the smoking cessation representative during active duty. He also served as a nutrition consultant for his unit and was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Braun says he is very humbled by the recognition from SHAPE and it is an honor to represent Doane.
“Cindy Meyer (associate professor, health and human performance) makes us work hard and has high expectations but she prepares us and gives us the tools to be successful in the future,” Braun said. “Her passion is contagious and it shows in the quality and enthusiasm of our students.”
In addition to taking classes at Doane, Braun works at Fleet Fleet Lincoln, where he fits individuals (not just runners) into comfortable, stable shoes that fit the needs of their life. Braun says Fleet Fleet’s owner, Lori Borer, “has played an enormous role in my passion and dedication to educating about healthy living.”
Braun also has served as an assistant coach for the Norris volleyball team, which finished runner-up in Class B this fall. Braun’s responsibilities with the Titans include planning and implementing the training performance program on the court and in the weight room.
Despite his very busy schedule, Braun says Doane faculty members have been very supportive of him and he has managed to excel in his coursework while juggling other commitments.
“The professors at Doane are so amazing at working around busy schedules,” Braun said. “It would be much more difficult if they weren’t so accommodating. The cadre in the College of Education has helped me along the entire way.”
“Mitch is very knowledgeable in the health and mental health field and has a great deal of experience for an undergraduate student,” Meyer said. “He is outstanding working with students, he is very personable, and has such a passion for fitness and health.”
Braun says after graduation, he has aspirations of becoming a health teacher.
“I love being around the energy of youth and I think health is a very underrated and underappreciated subject, and I want to change that,” Braun said. “I want a health classroom to be a place that students look forward coming to every day.”
In the more distant future, Braun said he could see himself working in a district office developing programs and curriculum for health classrooms or working in a corporate health and wellness program.
“We can educate our students in healthy living but in order to make big strides in community health, the parents and adults need to be educated as well.”