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Moving Quickly, Sadie Engelken

On the Road to Affect Change


Look out, world. Sadie Engelken is on the move.

Engelken graduated with honors in December 2017, a semester ahead of most of her peers.

But there’s more. Plenty more.

She delivered Simpson’s first all-conference performance in seven years during the Iowa Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship.

She performed in a Simpson choir and majored in both music and exercise science.

As a student, Engelken completed two internships, one in cardiac rehabilitation and the other as a Cancer Exercise Specialist.

If this sounds to you like a person who hopes to become a pioneer in the relatively new and growing field of cancer rehabilitation, you would be correct.

And if Engelken decides to do something, you can bank on it.

“I have always had a crazy schedule since I was a kid and this was no different at Simpson,” the Ames native said. “I believe my time management, organization between two departments (exercise science and music), being an athlete, being in a choir, having multiple work studies prepared me to be in a job where you have a lot of responsibility.

“Responsibility, maturity, time management and leadership go hand in and, and I believe I improved on all these skills during my time at Simpson.”

Engelken was interested in using rehabilitation to assist cancer patients, and Google helped lead her to the University of Northern Colorado Cancer Rehabilitation Institute (UNCCRI) in Greeley. She discovered the facility still had two Cancer Exercise Specialist internships available.

Engelken acted quickly – as usual. She applied that day, and was accepted.

It didn’t take long for the people at UNCCRI to be as impressed with Engelken as her Simpson professors were. She was one of two interns to be selected as an Intern Supervisor, the first time someone other than a University of Northern Colorado student was chosen.

Perhaps it was her work ethic. She showed up for her internship a week early. Interns are required to work 500 hours; Engelken worked 700.

“I showed them how much the opportunity I was given meant to me,” she said.

As an intern, she helped screen clients, completed psychological and physiological assessments, created exercise prescriptions and carried them out through exercise. She passed an assessment skills test, which means she is now a Clinical Cancer Exercise Specialist Level 2.

The next step: Study Exercise Physiology with a clinical emphasis with the goal of obtaining a master’s degree at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis.

Additionally, Engelken will be traveling to Durham, N.C. to intern at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in the fitness component of the facility. During her time there, she will have the opportunity to create and monitor exercise prescriptions, teach group exercise, present on relevant fitness related-topics, apply clinical skills, research, perform exercise testing sessions and complete one-on-one fitness training. Duke Diet and Fitness Center is the world’s only residential-style weight-loss program integrated within an internationally renowned academic medical center.

Engelken said the classes she took at Simpson – kinesiology, exercise science and exercise testing and prescription – prepared her well for future studies and a career in the field of exercise rehabilitation for special populations.

“When I tell people what I did most have never heard of anything like it, and I hope to be a part of changing this in the future and helping grow both the field of cancer rehabilitation and exercise rehabilitation in general for special populations.

“These services and exercise physiologists aren’t even covered by insurance like cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab. Why is exercise for cancer, diabetes, elderly and other populations who may need extra help any different?”

She wants to be part of that change, whether in her own clinic or as the coordinator of one. And the sooner, the better. As the people at Simpson discovered, you don’t want to get in Sadie Engelken’s way when she has decided to accomplish something.