Kim Kato: Why I Teach

By Kelsey Luffmann

As a licensed athletic trainer, Dr. Kim Kato worked in the fields of health science, kinesiology, physical education, and athletic training before coming to MNU as chair of the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Because her role at MNU integrates all those fields, Kato calls MNU “the perfect fit” for someone who’s passionate about health. 

Meet Dr. Kato 

Department Chair of Health and Exercise Science

First Year At MNU: 2011

Education: Doctor of Education, University of Kansas

Teaches: Sports and Exercise Nutrition, Core Concepts of Health, Principles of Health Promotions, Personal and Community Health, Senior Seminar (for career development), supervises student internships

Accomplishments: University of Missouri Alumni Citation of Merit for Outstanding Achievement and Meritorious Service (2011); Texas Association for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Teacher of the Year for Health (2010); Stephen F. Austin State Teaching Excellence Award for the College of Education and the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science (2009).

But teaching at MNU is about much more than just academics. 

“One thing I’ve embraced is the attitude of our students,” said Kato. “We’ve got a really compassionate and ambitious attitude in our department.”

Kato teaches students majoring in athletic training, kinesiology, and physical education, as well as students who plan to continue on to physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) graduate programs. 

“It’s okay to not know what you’re going to do,” said Kato, “but exposing yourself to as much as possible is really important. These students are willing to do that.”

Many of MNU’s aspiring PT and OT students have been accepted into highly selective graduate schools like the University of Kansas and Northwestern University. 

“They’re getting accepted into the top schools in our area,” said Kato. “They’re an excellent reflection on not only our program, but also on our university.”

Recent kinesiology graduate Benjamin McLane, who will soon begin physical therapy school at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said Kato had a profound impact on his success. 

“Dr. Kato is a professional’s professional,” said McLane. “She is tactfully straightforward, and she teaches the importance of excelling at projects rather than merely completing them.”


Q  As a teacher, what makes you tick?

A  Whenever I hear someone get excited about health, exercise,
wellness—that gets me excited. I believe in being a role model by being active and looking at ways to improve my health. Like anybody else, though, it’s not easy; there are challenges. I think it is very important to share with students that challenges will only make us stronger when it comes to our health.

Q  Besides teaching, what are your other roles at MNU?

A  One I hold near and dear to my heart is advising students. It’s an important time we get to spend with our students, understanding what career path they’re going toward, and advising them in a way that can get them there.

Q  How would you describe your fellow department faculty members?

A  They’re hands-on, and they always want what’s best for students, so it’s like we all have the same vision. That’s something that is not only comforting, but very motivating to me.