Ben Hunt was always athletic.
So, it was no surprise when he majored in exercise science, with a goal of moving into a physical therapy program.
While finishing his undergraduate degree at Evangel University, he did an internship at a physical therapy clinic. it turned into a part-time job for another year where he gained valuable hands-on experience.
But something bothered him.
“Many of the injuries were simply the result of having lived a long-term unhealthy lifestyle and could have been prevented through better nutrition and physical activity. Many of the patients I helped recover, came back a year later with the same or similar injury due to the continued unhealthy habits,” he said.
Change of course
Hunt came to the realization that instead of healing people, he’d rather prevent injuries by helping them live a healthier lifestyle.
So, he began a Google search for the next phase of his career.
Google led him to Missouri State’s health promotion and wellness management graduate program.
“I had never heard of it before, but I immediately knew that was where I needed to be,” the Bois D’Arc native said.
He enrolled in the program and particularly loved its management and coordination content which is applicable to wide array of careers.
“The program also did an excellent job of preparing me for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, which is a highly desirable certification that will set individuals apart from other job-seeking candidates,” he said.
Turning part-time into full-time
While a student, he interned with Jon Mooney, who was then wellness coordinator at Jordan Valley Community Hospital (Mooney is currently the assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department).
During the internship, Mooney encouraged Hunt to join a local collaboration called the Childhood Obesity Action Group (COAG), which consisted of several area organizations. “Among the COAG organizations was a nonprofit called the Healthy Living Alliance (HLA). As I neared the end of my internship, HLA approached me and offered to create a part-time job for me. I took this position, which then turned into a full-time position before I even graduated,” he said.
“The internship offered through Health Promotion and Wellness Management program was a critical piece that directly led to a pre-graduation full-time position, which ended up being a steppingstone to the position I’m in today.”
Hunt graduated in 2013 with a master’s degree in health promotion and wellness management.
But his position was grant-funded. When grand funding was about to run out, Hunt accepted a position as public health program representative, tackling a variety of community health programs in the Springfield area.
A year later, the employee wellness coordinator position for the City of Springfield became vacant.
He landed that job and was there for three years.
“I gained a tremendous amount of experience in workplace wellness programming,” Hunt said.
Coming back to MSU
While he loved his job with the city, the wellness program coordinator position opened at MSU and caught his eye.
He applied and got the job in 2016.
“My position manages and oversees all wellness programming for employees, spouses, dependents and retirees of the university. One of the things I love most about my position is that I get to be all over campus and interact with all employees, even at West Plains and Mountain Grove,” he said.
The wellness program provides support and encouragement to people to help them live a healthier lifestyle.
There are many aspects of wellbeing: physical, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and environmental.
The job has been very fulfilling.
“I’ve had several individuals express to me how our programs have helped influence them to make positive modifications to their lifestyles, which in return has had life-changing results,” Hunt said.