Get a glimpse into your colleagues’ day-to-day lives on campus. During the 2022 Spring into Motion Wellness Challenge, read about WashU employees who help us achieve our missions of research, teaching and patient care all while they get their steps in!
Miranda Fields, an animal lover, unexpectedly found a career with WashU as a laboratory animal technician in the Division of Comparative Medicine on the Medical School Campus.
“I got lucky with this position since I love animals,” Fields said. “I always wanted to work with them but just didn’t realize it would be with small rodents like mice.”
Fields, who started at WashU in 2020, is a caretaker for animals that are part of WashU’s research laboratories.
“I feed the animals, give them fresh water and clean the cages,” Fields said. “It’s heavy-duty work, and I’m on my feet for about eight hours each day.”
Fields, who enrolled in this year’s Spring into Motion well-being challenge, averages 14,000 steps a day. Being on her feet at work accounts for many of those steps, but she also enjoys engaging in cardiovascular and weight-lifting exercises at her local gym. Working out offers her the opportunity to relieve stress and feel good about herself. Plus, it helps keep her in shape for her job.
“Our supervisors encourage us to move around and stretch during our shift to avoid repeated motions and possible injuries,” Fields said. “Cleaning the animal cages and moving them around requires a lot of physical activity.”
For Fields, she enjoys spending time with the animals and is happy she’s found a welcoming work environment and community at WashU.
“Everyone is really nice and makes you feel at home here,” Fields said. “The animals recognize me when I walk into the lab, too. The rats come up and sniff, and when I give them new cages, they’re happy, which makes me happy.”
When Fields isn’t at work or at her gym, you might find her taking care of her calico cat, Princess, or watching TV shows or chick flicks. She’s currently watching the TV series, This is Us.
Visit WashU’s Well-being Hub for upcoming employee events and wellness resources.
After working in the private heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, Ed Schmidt decided he was ready for a change. He joined WashU in 2011 as a mechanic and continues to work as a HVAC specialist. Here, he’s able to enjoy the comradery of his colleagues while helping those in need.
“WashU is a very nice community,” Schmidt said, “The atmosphere here is very pleasant and I enjoy walking the campus to service all the buildings rather than driving from call to call like I had to do at my previous job.”
Schmidt is a mechanic in the yellow zone, which includes eight buildings on the Danforth campus. He’s responsible for maintenance and repair of the HVAC system in each building and works alongside other Facilities members, such as plumbers and electricians. To say he’s active would be an understatement.
“I like working with my hands, taking things apart and fixing them,” Schmidt said. “I’m on my feet a lot each day, talking with other employees who are having HVAC problems so I usually average 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day on campus.”
And that’s just at work. After he ends his work shift, Schmidt heads home for dinner and then gets on his indoor bike trainer for a 20-mile bike ride. He enjoys joining others from around the world and competing in races, such as the Tour De Zwift.
Schmidt’s competitive spirit follows him to work during WashU Wellness Challenges and he’s competed in several challenges as a member of Facilities’ “Yellow Jackets” team. So far, his favorite challenge has been the Couch to 5K program even though his knees made it difficult to run an entire 5K.
“Facilities get a competition going where we try to outdo each other,” Schmidt said. “It’s fun to see who is winning each day and try to top it.”
Surprisingly, Schmidt admits he’s not always in first place, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. In addition to his daily steps at work and cycling, he likes to be active with his wife outside of work. They enjoy riding bikes and hiking, and you might find them at Mastodon State Park on the weekends.
Visit WashU’s Well-being Hub for upcoming employee events and wellness resources.
Over the past 25 years, Marilyn Brandy witnessed many changes at WashU. Her tenure here has seen two chancellors, multiple building and campus renovations and expansions, as well as establishing life-long relationships. Brandy, who is the current housekeeping manager of the yellow zone, now oversees 10 employees in the South 40 complex. She says the comradery she’s developed with colleagues and students keep her at WashU.
“In 1998, I had a student in Umrath whose name was Jeremy, just like my son,” Brandy said. “We still keep in touch. He’s a lawyer now with his own children on the east coast.”
Brandy has worked in housekeeping since she began at WashU in 1997. She begins her workday at 6 a.m. with some administrative tasks prior to meeting with her midnight shift employees as they clock-out and checking in with her day-shift employees as they clock-in. She’s also responsible for hiring new employees, evaluations and inspections, event set-ups, and being part of the Safety Committee. Her role keeps her busy, so much so that she averages 10,000 steps during her workday.
“I use the app, SweatCoins, which pays you for being active,” Brandy said. “I stay busy in my position and oversee many areas like the Fitness Center, Ursa’s and the police station, that require me to move around campus.”
Familiar with both the WashU campus and larger St. Louis community, Brandy, who was born and raised in St. Louis herself, has now watched her three children grow up and move into college themselves, two of whom attended WashU’s College Prep program. Her immediate family and relatives continue to enjoy WashU signature events, such as the Thurtene Carnival or trick-or-treating on campus.
“I like to talk and learn about other people, how are they doing and experiences they have,” Brandy said. “It’s like interacting with my own kids.”
Outside of work, Brandy also stays busy with her 10-month-old granddog, Zoey, and spending time with her great nieces and nephews. She also enjoys singing and dancing with her family.
“Dancing is a good exercise and my family always tries to get me on Tik Tok,” Brandy said.
Joshua Hubert, PT, DPT
A former collegiate soccer player, Joshua Hubert, PT, DPT, physical therapist, clinical associate at WashU, understands how important it is for your body to be active and engage in physical activity. Even though back pain over the past eight months has kept him from more intense physical activity, like playing soccer, Hubert makes it a point to stay moving and complete his physical therapy exercises. There is another silver lining too: he’s able to connect with his patients both professionally and personally now, and he has a lot of patients to help.
With clinics on both the Medical School campus and the Danforth campus, Hubert is no stranger to navigating WashU and getting his steps in. He believes he averages around 7,000 steps a day, even with back pain.
“Working at both the 4444 Forest Park location and the Danforth campus gives me variability,” Hubert said. “It keeps me clinically nimble. I get to see different populations in different clinics with different flows, and I enjoy that aspect of my job.”
Hubert, who hosts a concussion and vestibular clinic on the Danforth campus, also has the opportunity to work with first year physical therapy students as part of his position within our academic health system, which is something he continues to appreciate. With both his clinical and classroom time, Hubert interacts with many different WashU groups – faculty, staff, students, trainees, and others – where he continues to remind his patients to stay mindful of movement.
“A lot of the people I work with are very busy, take their jobs seriously and are brilliant people, and I still have to remind them to move in ways that are better for their bodies,” Hubert said. “Pay attention to how things feel and remember to prioritize your health.”
Hubert recommends simple steps such as changing your body position every 30 minutes like standing up after sitting for more than 30 minutes or vice versa or going on a walk for movement (and getting your steps in for the Spring into Wellness challenge), even if it’s just down your hallway. He also suggests talking with your primary care doctor or the physical therapy clinic about persistent pain or certain comorbidities, like high blood pressure, as those aren’t normal. It’s also important to engage in moderate intensive aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week per the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
“I’ve become conscious of my movements due to back pain, which is easier said than done,“ Hubert said. “Being mindful from the get-go is a good thing to avoid waiting until symptoms occur to seek help.”
Hubert also noted that we don’t give our bodies enough credit. He notes that they have the capacity to adapt and feel what’s wrong and what’s right, which can be useful advice when you’re choosing your next pair of athletic shoes.
When he’s not at work, you can find Hubert staying active through sand volleyball, camping and going on float trips, hiking, walking and rehabbing his back so he’s able to play soccer again.
If you’re interested in increasing your physical activity level, WashU Physical Therapy will work with you to increase your activity level at an appropriate rate and build customized training plans.