student-stories

Wellness Coach Earns Master’s Degree to Prepare for Leadership Role

UW Extended Campus August 13, 2021
Laura Kuglitsch smiling in her cap and gown at her 2018 master's graduation.

Health and Wellness Management Graduate, Laura Kuglitsch professional headshot

UW Health and Wellness Management graduate Laura Kuglitsch lives and breathes wellness. “I’ve been that way since the day I was born.”  

Laura’s passion for healthy living guided her to a career—and a life—she loves. Thirteen years ago, the Milwaukee native transitioned from rehab technician to senior health coach at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Today, she is a wellness coach at Treo Wellness—providing proactive wellness services to organizations who choose to empower their employees in making positive lifestyle choices. Laura is also a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor who teaches classes three nights per week.

In Fall 2016, Laura decided to get an advanced degree, a Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management, from University of Wisconsin to prepare her to take on a leadership role at work. She graduated from the 100% online program in 2018.

A Wellness Manager Is Born

For Laura, being a wellness coach has always been her thing. At a young age, she lived with a sister in nursing school and a brother with Type 1 diabetes. Laura says: “It was my responsibility to make sure we were cooking healthy recipes.”

As a teenager, she got to know avid exercisers at her local athletic club. “I’d see them measuring their food and was curious about it. They explained their healthy lifestyle to me, and those conversations expanded that whole world for me. I started running and paying more attention to what I ate. I saw the benefits; I had more energy and just felt good.”

Little did she know, these early experiences were preparing her for her future career.

Coaching 12,000 People

Formerly, as part of the internal wellness team for a 12,000-employee organization at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Laura found herself very busy. “One of the nice things about my job is I get to wear a lot of hats,” she says. She coordinated onsite fitness classes, co-chaired the staff wellness committee, and assisted with planning and developing wellness challenges.

For her position, she needed to become a certified health coach. Health coaching is a service offered to all Froedtert employees, and Laura helped them find general wellness information, develop fitness goals, and begin an exercise program. As they progress, she guided and motivated them, promising, “I will always be in their corner, cheering them on and saying, ‘It will take time, hard work, and dedication, but when you reach that goal, it will be worth it.’”

Her next career move? “I’m excited about the career opportunities my master’s degree will provide me, and I am hoping this will lead me to a leadership role. I’ve already learned so much about strategic initiatives, goal-setting, program development, and other things from my courses. I’ve had so many lightbulb moments about how I can directly apply the knowledge at work!”

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Online, Anytime

Laura is very happy with her choice to enroll in the 100% online UW Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management through UW-Parkside (one of five UW campuses that offer the degree). “I looked into so many master’s programs after finishing my undergraduate degree in kinesiology,” she says. “But I just couldn’t find that fit.”

The fit Laura is talking about not only has to do with how directly applicable the Health and Wellness Management curriculum is to her career, but also the flexibility and convenience of an online degree.

“I took two courses each semester, while working full time Monday through Friday. On top of that, I teach cycling and strength classes three nights a week. The draw of the online program was that I could continue to work and teach classes, come home, and still get my schoolwork done. Otherwise, I would have had to give up teaching classes, which is something I love doing.”

Overall, she says the courses and UW instructors who teach them have been great. Plus, she says, there is no travel time to campus. “I love that I could wake up on Saturday morning, make a cup of coffee, and get all my coursework done in my PJs. And if I want, I could take a break and do some yoga to clear my head.”

Parting Advice

Laura graduated with her master’s degree in December 2018, just over two years after she started the Health and Wellness Management program.

If she could tell prospective Health and Wellness Management students one thing, Laura says it would be this: To be a successful online student, you need to be self-motivated and structured when it comes to your studies. The easiest thing is to create a weekly schedule that works for you and try to stick to it.

Oh, and one more thing. “This is achievable. It’s not as scary as I thought. Just take the leap. And don’t look back.”


Learn more about the UW Health and Wellness Management admission requirements, or talk with one of our enrollment advisers. To get started, call 608-262-2011, email learn@uwex.edu, or schedule an advising call via Calendly.

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Programs: Health and Wellness Management