Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State student, professor earn awards from Nebraska Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance


Dr. Ellie Kunkel, Dr. Kyle Ryan, Katlyn Donovan
(left to right) Dr. Ellie Kunkel,
Dr. Kyle Ryan, Katlyn Donovan

(Peru, Neb.) The Nebraska Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NAHPERD) recently named Peru State College (PSC) senior Katlyn Donovan the Physical Education Major of the Year. Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Kyle Ryan was named Sport and Exercise Science Professor of the Year.

Donovan is a Greely, Neb., native double majoring in K-12 health and physical education as well as sport and exercise science. She is president of the Physical Education, Activity & Kinesiology Students (PEAKS) of Peru, a member of the Bobcat volleyball team and an NAIA Daktronics Scholar Athlete.

Donovan completed the highly competitive and prestigious Great Plains Public Health Training Center Student Summer Fellowship Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. During the fellowship, Donovan assisted rural Nebraska health departments educate citizens about cancer prevention and obesity. She developed and implemented plans and activities to respond to areas of need, prepared written reports for accreditation activities, and participated in outreach and case management services for populations with little access to care.

Associate Professor of Education Dr. Ellie Kunkel said, “Katlyn has exhibited exceptional leadership qualities as a student through her participation in intercollegiate athletics, devising and carrying out creative service-learning projects through her course work, and as president of PEAKS. When PEAKS was beginning to weaken from lack of student involvement, Katlyn was instrumental in reviving student engagement by forging ahead with projects and ideas that helped lead others to follow suit. She is very deserving of this award.”

Donovan is the daughter of Tom and Kathy Donovan of Greeley.

Ryan said, “This award would not be possible without Dr. Kunkel’s mentorship and tireless devotion to the major. The college is fortunate to have an individual as active as her at the state level.”

Ryan, who came to Peru State in 2009, earned NAHPERD’s Sport and Exercise Science Professor of the Year Award for his work coordinating the Children’s Health, Activity & Nutrition Community Engagement (CHANCE) Initiative, a partnership between Peru State, Auburn Public Schools and Auburn Family Health Center, P.C. The CHANCE Initiative was made possible because of a grant from United Health HEROES program, which encourages semester-long projects that launch on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and culminate on Global Youth Service Day in April. Grants are used to engage participating youth in service-learning, an effective teaching and learning strategy that supports student learning, academic achievement and workplace readiness.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Todd Drew said, “Dr. Ryan supports student research and activities within the school and surrounding communities. He has raised the bar for Peru State sport and exercise science majors in terms of meeting professional standards and expectations while engaging students in academic service-learning projects. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Ryan is a graduate of Humboldt State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in kinesiology. Ryan earned a Ph.D. in sport and exercise science with a minor in statistical research methods from the University of Northern Colorado.

Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Ryan served as assistant strength coach at Humboldt State University while completing his master’s degree and was named the University of Northern Colorado’s first strength and conditioning coach while pursuing his Ph.D.

Ryan coached the University of Northern Colorado to the Rugby National Championship in 2003 and served as strength and conditioning consultant for U.S.A. Rugby from 2000 to 2004. After earning his Ph.D., Ryan served as a faculty member in the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan and in the College of Health at the University of Utah.

Ryan’s current research interests include neuromechanics, community-based participatory research with regard to obesity intervention and prevention, and the effectiveness of academic service-learning.