Working for Wellness

Scores of Central graduates have launched careers in healthcare, becoming doctors, nurses and surgeons — even training the next generation of health professionals. With hundreds of current students enrolled in pre-professional health fields, Central’s network is bound to keep growing.

Get to know these grads working in physical therapy, emergency care, healthcare administration and more.

Steve Perkins ’01Steve Perkins '01

Family physician, Francsican Skemp Mayo Health System
Waukon, Iowa
Undergraduate major: Biology
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines University

“Serving as a rural family physician, I am able to care for those from conception until natural death, and it is amazing to be delivering a baby one minute and then running to the ER for a trauma victim and then back to the clinic or nursing home to provide preventative services. It’s a challenge and one that grows harder by the day. There are only 200 graduates per year nationwide that want to practice in a full-spectrum rural manner, so there is a tremendous shortage of physicians and an incredible need for those who live in the country.

“Every moment at Central helped me on my journey. From courses in the humanities, my experiences as an RA, my time in the weight room, my time on the football practice and the game field, to the service requirements, to meeting my wife, Stefanie Bresnahan ’02 in calculus class (where all true love should be found), I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Central College! I have been able to use something from each course to help me when it comes to serving my patients. Those who think the liberal arts are dead are sorely mistaken!”


Gina Kolk ’84Gina Kolk '84

Physical therapist, NovaCare Rehabilitation
Oak Park, Ill.
Undergraduate major: Biology
Physical therapy, Northwestern University

“I credit my mother for influencing my career. I was a nurse’s aide in high school, and I loved interacting with the residents. My mother researched careers in healthcare and thought physical therapy would be an up-and-coming profession. She turned out to be right. I have been working full-time since 1984. I enjoy the problem solving the job requires. If you have good listening skills, the patient will tell you what is wrong, and it becomes my job to determine how I will assist them to feel better. We use the term, differential diagnosis, and I am very good at putting all the pieces together.”


  • Late nights in the science lab counting fruit flies and writing lab reports
  • Studying abroad in Merida
  • I credit Dr. Art Bosch for writing my letter of recommendation


Brent Dunlap ’96Brent Dunlap '96

Optometrist, Dunlap Vision
Bourbonnais, Ill.
Undergraduate major: Interdisciplinary studies
Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry

“The greatest enjoyment comes from helping others. Something as simple as changing a glasses prescription or as complex as diagnosing an ocular condition with unfortunate systemic complications can be very fulfilling. I shadowed an optometrist in my hometown and applied for a part-time job at Eye Care Partners in Pella. While working there, I discovered this is what I would do.

“My experience on the Central College wrestling team has been especially important in my life. The relationships I developed with the coaches, staff and teammates are strong still today. I cherish the memories of our time training together, suffering together and celebrating together.”


Kelly Braasch Puster '87Kelly Braasch Puster ’87

Chairman, Medical Staff Quality Improvement Committee, Elkhart General Hospital
Elkhart, Ind.
Undergraduate major: Chemistry
Doctor of Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine

“I had teaching or research in mind and spent many hours in Vermeer Science Center taking classes with the illustrious Dr. Bosch, who was also my advisor. After a dull summer research experience in Ames, working in a window-less lab, left me somewhat disenchanted just prior to my senior year, I went to him for advice about what path to take. He simply and wisely said, ‘Why don’t you try medicine?’ I took his advice and was accepted to the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

“Choosing to pursue a career in general surgery was not my original goal. Due to my love of kids, I presumed OB/GYN or pediatrics would interest me, but that was definitely not the case! Being in the operating room ‘fixing things’ and making bad situations better while using my hands made the most sense to me. There is immediate gratification in removing a part of the colon with cancer in it, patching a hernia, taking out an inflamed appendix or a parathyroid tumor. There is so much variety in general surgery work that I am never bored.”


Eric '99 and Angie Irelan Forsberg '00Eric ’99 and Angie Irelan Forsberg ’00

Owners and dentists, Pleasant Dental PC and Altoona Smiles PC
Altoona, Iowa
Majors: Biology
Doctor of Dental Surgery, University of Iowa College of Dentistry

Angie: “It all started at Central. We met each other in Vermeer Science Center and started dating in 1997. Central was a good core for studies. Biology and chemistry were challenging. The family at Central, in hindsight (after studying at a large university), was irreplaceable.”

Eric: “I chose Central because of Coach Ron Schipper. Not knowing what I wanted out of college, I instinctively knew he was invested in me as a student and citizen. It was a unique vibe I didn’t feel anywhere else. Playing football for him (along with Coaches Rich Kacmarynski and Eric Jones) was the best introduction anyone could have had to team building. Trust, respect, care, have a plan for your time… there likely wouldn’t have been a career in dentistry if it wasn’t for his commitments.

“It was my student adviser, Dr. Barbara Liedl, who introduced me to the idea of becoming a dentist, handing me a business card from Dr. David Barnes in Pella and stating something along the lines of, ‘I think this could be a good fit for you.’ I started shadowing at Dr. Dave’s office the next week and never thought twice about anything else.”

Angie: “I wanted to be a pharmacist but had a change of heart. My husband, Eric, was in dental school and was stressed out. He said I should join him so he was not “miserable” by himself. I had a mentor in high school who was my softball coach and a dentist. I wanted to be just like him but never thought I would have a chance to make it into dental school and actually have a career in dentistry. I can thank my husband for re-igniting the idea.”


Heather Borgman Reinke '11Heather Borgman Reinke ’11

Emergency department registered nurse, UnityPoint Health, Iowa Methodist Medical Center
Des Moines, Iowa
Undergraduate major: Biology
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Mercy College of Health Sciences

“I have been around medical professionals my entire life. I had many tests for an unexplained pain in my foot when I was in second grade. And when I was in fourth grade, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I don’t remember every detail about these experiences, I do remember people who were kind and reassuring. That’s what I strive to do in my daily work.

“While at Central, I learned through a friend of an EMT course happening. Knowing my love of adrenaline rushes, I took this course after my senior year and started with the Pella Community Ambulance as a volunteer EMT.”


“Studying abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done — now second only to getting married and having a child. I grew up and matured a lot during my time in London. Learning to live on my own, managing time and money, and making friends with people I had never met made me step out of my comfort zone. While I was in London, I also got to do my internship at West Middlesex University Hospital. During my time there, I was able to observe in many different wards to get a feel for how medical care is there and how different wards function.”

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