For Alyssa Walton, healthy living is a passion and a way of life, and now she helps run one of the best corporate wellness programs in the world.
“Wellness is fully ingrained in our company culture,” said Walton, 2017 Union College health and human performance graduate and wellness specialist at Lincoln Industries. “We are committed to the wellness of our people and their families. Our people are our most important asset to success as a company.”
Walton helps operate a fully-integrated employee wellness program that includes an onsite fitness center and medical clinic. Lincoln Industries, the largest privately held metal finishing company in North America, provides many services to employees—including health coaching, biometric screening and an annual incentive trip to climb a 14,000-foot mountain.
In fact, Lincoln Industries was named the world’s top healthy workplace for small and medium-sized companies in 2017 at the Fifth Global Healthy Workplace Summit, a ranking that tracks how workplace health leads to desired outcomes such as enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved morale.
For Walton the joy comes in getting to know their unique population and seeing lives changed.
“It’s about building a relationship with our people,” Walton explained. “Wellness can be an uneasy topic, but the better I know our people, the better I can help design and implement programs that are beneficial and relevant to their lives.”
During an internship with Lincoln Industries while in her last semester at Union, Walton was assigned to serve as an individual health coach for a small group of people. “I remember one individual in particular—we focused on fitness, nutrition and sleep,” Walton said. “The person lost weight, had more energy for their kids and was performing better at the job. It was great helping make those changes that impacted every area of life.”
Finding a calling in corporate wellness
Walton grew up in rural Nebraska in a family who either farmed or worked in health care. She knew she wanted to help people, so her family encouraged her to pursue nursing. At that point, Union was a no-brainer. “I needed to stay in Lincoln because I was engaged,” Walton said. “I did some research and discovered Union has a phenomenal program with great results.”
Every freshman takes a general fitness class—Concepts of Wellness. One day in class, a guest speaker, alumna Rachel Huggins, introduced Walton to the world of corporate wellness. “I had no idea the field existed,” she said. “I worked as an LPN for a few years, and I liked the idea of transitioning from treatment to the prevention side of health care.”
With guidance from Dr. Nancy Petta, Union’s health and human performance program director, Walton made the switch.
Connecting with a fitness-focused company
In one of her first classes—Intro to Fitness and Wellness with Dr. Shawntae Razo—Walton visited Lincoln Industries for the first time. She was so impressed with what she saw, she set up an appointment to shadow the company’s health, safety and performance manager to learn more about corporate wellness.
Walton ultimately landed the internship with Lincoln Industries in the last semester of her senior year—and kept right on working after graduation. She loves sharing her passion for healthy living. “We try to create an environment for our people that makes being healthy the easy choice,” she said. “Wellness and healthy lifestyles are important to our success.”
The Union influence
At Union, Walton appreciated the mentorship and friendship of the health and human performance faculty. “Dr. Razo and Dr. Petta are so much more than professors and advisors,” she said. “They were some of my greatest encouragers. I wasn’t a traditional student. I lived off-campus, was married and had a kid. They met me where I was at and supported me. I would not be where I am without them.”
But more importantly, she found a family who helped build her faith when she needed it most. “God led me to Union because I needed to strengthen my relationship Him,” Walton said. “I was surrounded by the love of Christ and people who challenged me to grow in my faith. Because of that, I feel like I better understand His purpose and the gifts God has given me for my life.”
By Ryan Teller