By: Traci Wuerstl, Practicum Reporter
Lea Stenerson continues to leave her legacy on Regis’ Northwest Denver campus through her teachings of anatomy and physiology to future nursing students.
Stenerson grew up in a city outside of Portland, Oregon, and said she had a fortunate childhood with loving parents as well as several friends. She grew up loving sports and teaching, roles that influenced her current professions as a personal trainer and a professor here at Regis.
As an alumna of Witworth University in Spokane,Washington., Stenerson knew that working in a similar small, Catholic setting would be important. She was drawn to apply for a position at Regis after a close friend introduced her to the idea. She admired the community and its overarching notion of living and working in service to others.
Besides her Witworth undergraduate degree, Stenerson holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Colorado. She’s a certified personal trainer, which allows her to incorporate her dual loves for sports and teaching.
Though she is passionate about her profession, Stenerson explained some of the daily challenges she faces. With a busy academic and professional schedule, she finds it difficult to balance everything.
“Your job is never done,” she said.
As the years have progressed, she’s had to consider the best way to get certain content across to her students to provide the best learning experience for them. She adds humor and incorporates youthful jargon to help students make connections regarding the content. She added that although this is challenging, it’s also the best part of her job.
“I love teaching and I am so fortunate for what I get to do and love passing that on, so my students can find that same kind of passion for themselves,” Stenerson said.
She has always had a passion for teaching. Throughout her life, teaching has been incorporated into what she does. As a young woman, she was an outdoor counselor and along the way found various other teaching opportunities that eventually led her toward formalized teaching at Regis.
Nearly nine years ago she became the anatomy and physiology professor for the lecture classes. Once she applied and received the job, she continued to teach both. Along the way, she has altered her teaching methodology and the course itself to ensure that students learn the material.
After nearly nine years of teaching, Stenerson has developed her own way of making learning more enjoyable for her students. She is adored by many of her pre-nursing students for her teaching style.
“She loves anatomy and teaches in a way that makes me want to love it too,” says Emily Pennylegion, one of Stenerson’s current anatomy students.
Stenerson says she’s fortunate to have the opportunity to help students enjoy learning through the process of making connections and finding motivation to learn more. She wants her students to enjoy the progression in learning to inspire them to keep educating themselves.
“It’s not just about knowing where the femur is, it’s about wanting to expand on it and learn everything you can about that particular bone,” Stenerson said.
Another current anatomy student explained how much she envies Stenerson and her teaching methods. Kristen Macmillan, a second-year pre-nursing student, explained how she enjoys the constant excitement and energy that is included in every lecture. “It can be difficult to find a professor who cares as much as she does,” said Macmillan, adding that Stenerson clearly cares about her students and their success.
Stenerson stated how professors are often seen as brilliant people with so much authority, although they have faced hardships in life as most people have and more than students may realize. As a professor for future nurses, Stenerson has an empathetic understanding of what her students go through and can better comprehend how they could feel if, by chance, they do not get into the program they desire.
She has faced a similar hardship of not being accepted into her desired program while she was attending school.
“Keep trying and it’ll happen,” she advised.
Stenerson applied to the athletic college at her university, and although she met all the qualifications, she didn’t get accepted. While it was difficult to understand why she didn’t get accepted, she knew she wouldn’t stop trying. To quit would’ve been the moment that she failed, and she would have never reached this point in her life. Through her perseverance she managed to accomplish many things, including getting into her chosen program.
Every professor has a life outside of teaching. Beyond coaching and teaching, Stenerson raises her three young boys with her husband. Taking care of her boys is a full-time job within itself, but Stenerson still manages to make time for other activities. As a Boulder resident, she spends a lot of time outdoors. In the summer she loves trail running, biking, swimming and camping with her family. She also leads a trail running group in the summer. Her love for sports at a young age helped her reach this career path. Coaching and personal training allows her to incorporate her passion for sports into her love of teaching. Now, with winter here, she and her family will spend more time on the downhill slopes at ski resorts.
“I love teaching and am so fortunate for what I get to do, and the legacy I hope for is to leave knowing that people enjoyed the classes and hopefully they gain more inspiration for their careers,” Stenerson said.