McKendree Graduate Series – Jenna Ritzheimer


By Elexis Baltimore, Editor

So you got your cap and gown in the mail, maybe sent out graduation announcements, and have probably been asked about your “next step” more times than you can count… with graduation just around the corner some of us are wondering what happens next. In order to help answer this question and maybe give everyone a little peace of mind, I decided to check in with a few McKendree Alumni in what I am calling the McKendree Graduate Series!

When Jenna Ritzheimer, then Jenna Wood, transferred to McKendree University she had no idea what she wanted to do. During her first few years in college Jenna realized that she had an interest in psychology and pursued her bachelor’s with that interest in mind. “I had no idea at the time if I would even work in that field,” Jenna said. After graduating in 2014, however, Jenna landed a job in McKendree’s graduate education office and decided to go on to get her master’s degree in business administration.

Three years and a lot of hard work later, Jenna walked across the stage for a second time at McKendree, this time with her master’s degree in tow. During this time, however, Jenna knew there was something she was missing. Throughout her childhood and well into her adult life Jenna was always interested in fitness and wellness. “I played four sports in high school and played softball in college so I was no stranger to working out,” says Jenna.  While keeping her passion for fitness alive by working out at a local boot camp, Jenna realized how much she truly loved this aspect of her life.

“I began at Fast Fitness as a client just looking for a place to workout,” recalled Jenna. “After a couple months I was asked to join the team as a trainer. I gradually took on more of a role with teaching nutrition classes and helping people be accountable for losing weight and reaching their goals.”

jenna1In 2017, Jenna was offered a job at Fast Fitness Boot Camp in Waterloo, IL as a Studio Manager and Team Lead, and she realized exactly what her dream job was. “My current job is definitely not what I thought I would be doing, but I’m lucky enough to do something that I am very passionate about,” says Jenna. “I really had no clue what I wanted to do after college.” Despite not working in what some might call a ‘traditional’ job for her either of her degree fields, she does use a lot of what she learned from both of her degrees. All of her psychology classes have helped her to understand her clients and better assist them in what can be an emotional weight loss journey, and the business skills she learned throughout her graduate degree have helped her in billing, payment, promotions, marketing, and even sales. Although her dream job did not fall into her lap right out of graduation, Jenna has been able to find a career that she both enjoys and can help others to be healthier versions of themselves.

When asked what advice Jenna had for all of the graduating seniors she replied, “Do something you are passionate about and find a rewarding job that makes you feel good about the work you do!”

2 comments

  1. What a wonderful idea to profile some of our post-graduation student success stories, Elexis! Jenna is certainly living a life of passion and purpose—just what we want for our students. Thanks!

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