SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Teaching is in Reiser’s blood

MINOT, N.D. – Olivia Reiser was adamant she was not going to be a teacher.

While she comes from a family of teachers, she viewed it as her backup plan and instead wanted to forge her own path in exercise science and rehabilitation (ESR).

She reluctantly continued in physical education, finishing with a double major at Minot State University with the encouragement of her parents.

“I think I planned to drop the major three times, and I was very serious about dropping it after my fall semester as a senior,” she said. “I only had student teaching left for the degree, and my parents encouraged me to finish the degree so I could have something if my plans didn’t work out.”

That final step, student teaching, turned out to be a difference-maker for Reiser. She will begin as a teacher in Bottineau in the fall.

“I really enjoyed my student teaching experience,” she said.

Reiser hasn’t given up on her dream of becoming an athletic trainer, however. From early on in high school, she knew she wanted to be in the health and wellness field. That notion was solidified during her time at Lake Region State College, where she earned the opportunity to work with an athletic trainer for both high school and college.

“When transferring to Minot State, I started with exercise science and rehabilitation pre-AT. I wasn’t sure about going to graduate school right away, so I decided on the double major,” she said. “My plan for now is to teach for a short time and still pursue my goal of being an athletic trainer. I’ve been accepted into the program at UND (University of North Dakota) and have decided to defer my enrollment for a year and reassess if I want to go to graduate school or teach longer.”

While her original spark for athletic training happened at Lake Region, it ignited further at Minot State when she worked with the athletic training staff at Trinity Health, which provides coverage for MSU Athletics.

“I had the most amazing experience working with the athletic trainers on campus,” Reiser said. “I was looking for a campus job and saw an opening for ‘hydration technician,’ or gloried water girl. I started just doing water for the football team, but it has turned into more of an assistant for the athletic trainers. I have gained so much knowledge in the athletic training world from learning how to tape, learning different modalities and how to use them, and learning rehab programs.

“Through this, I was also able to work with a football athlete who had a very rare injury of a bilateral patellar tendon tear, or tear of both tendons in his knees. (MSU) professor, Beth Marschner, the football athletic trainer, Jodi Swedlund, and I worked with the athlete on his rehabilitation program. I had a very hands-on experience working with the athlete, learning and experiencing a post-surgical rehab program from beginning to end.”

Getting to work in situations like these, along with juggling the demands of a double major, has been stressful for Reiser. She has developed strategies to both cope and thrive.

“The biggest key to my stress and time management is my calendar and to-do lists. I am a very organized person and use tools to help me when the times get very busy,” she said. “My calendar helps me to know where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be somewhere. I use to-do lists a lot to help me with my classes and other things I need to do by deadlines. My skills have improved as I went through the program.”

Like everyone else in the class of 24, Reiser's experiences will culminate on graduation day, with one extra layer: she was chosen to deliver the undergraduate address at this year’s Commencement Ceremony.

“I had never even thought the opportunity would arise for me to speak,” Reiser said. “Beth reached out to me one day and randomly asked if I would ever be interested, and so I said, ‘Sure, why not?’”

While she is still figuring out who she wants to be, Reiser is grateful for choosing Minot State to help her navigate. Joining the MSU community was in her blood just about as much as teaching is.

“I have eight family members that have attended Minot State before me and three that are currently here now,” she said. “Minot State definitely has family ties for me. I also loved that it was close to home and had a smaller campus.

“It has felt like a family since day one, and I have fallen in love with Minot State!”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/10/24   

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