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Kansas Wesleyan University

For a girl from St. Louis who considered Kansas Wesleyan because it wasn’t too far from home, Sharniece Pierce ’11 has gone far. Pierce came to Kansas Wesleyan on a basketball scholarship.

She has accepted a hybrid position at Hawaii Pacific University as director of admissions and assistant professor for its new Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, which started in January.

Some of her work can be done remotely, but it also involves traveling to Honolulu from her home in the Midwest.

How far she has gone since her BA can be inferred from the letters she has since added after her name: OTD, OTR/L, CLT-UE, CAFS, CSC, CPT, MFDc, CKTP, AIB-VR/CON, LSVT-BIG Certified.

Bryan Minnich, retired KWU associate professor of Exercise Science, is why, she said. He made learning fun and had unique ways of  keeping students focused. His classes were a combination of academic and experiential learning.

“He was super-influential,” she said of working with Minnich while earning her degree in Exercise Science/Athletic Training. “He’s definitely the reason I went into occupational therapy.”

While shadowing a physical therapist for a class, an occupational therapist across the room attracted her attention.

“From there it took off, and I knew what path I wanted to take,” Pierce said.

After earning her OTD, she worked at an outpatient hand-therapy clinic and began offering classes in occupational therapy, when she discovered her passion for teaching.

She was teaching at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan., when she was approached “about a crazy opportunity to take a hybrid position at Hawaii Pacific University.”

“It’s important for Prof. Minnich to know he played a very influential role, not only in my career but probably in other areas,” she said when she learned he was retiring. “The concepts he taught in class are so transferable that I’ve been able to use them in every aspect of my career. The things he stressed, the academic aspects, the sense of community, and building long-lasting relationships, those are things that carry over into professional health care, things I can take into patient care as an occupational therapist, and I can take into being faculty.”

Story by Jean Kozubowski