Interview with Ryan Belnap

by Vicki Heisser  |   

Recently the college’s Health and Fitness Center (H&FC), which is managed by Ryan Belnap, closed to ensure the health and safety of its patrons. Belnap had this to say about the H&FC closure:

“The night after the H&FC closed I did an inspection before locking up. It was strange to not be greeted by familiar faces, to not see the movement of people exercising, to not hear the clanging of metal plates or the thumping of footsteps on treadmills. There was an absence of positive energy that typically radiates from the place. Emotions welled up as I thought of how many worked so hard and so long, through sweat and pain, to develop physical strength and endurance. I felt deeply concerned about good habits being broken, and about muscle atrophy reversing the effects of diligent training. This sobering evening in the empty H&FC had me reflecting on how deeply I care about the place and the people who use it. During the last two weeks the staff thoroughly cleaned every wall, corner, closet and piece of equipment. It will look great when we reopen.”

It is clear that Belnap cares for and is connected to PWSC and the Valdez community. A native of Idaho, Ryan moved to Alaska after college, and has made PWSC and Valdez his home. I talked with Ryan about his life, his work at the college, and how he and his family stay connected and active. Here is what he previously shared with me about himself and his work.

Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your journey?

“I grew up in Idaho with a big and active family. I was involved in many sports and activities from a young age. I was also involved in my church and the Boy Scouts of America. This led to many campouts and many service projects for the community.

As a young adult, I went on a 2-year mission for my church to Brazil, and then earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University - Idaho. Right before graduating, I married an Alaskan girl and landed an internship in human resources at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  The internship turned into a full-time job, and I worked for UAA for 9 years. I took a promotional opportunity at PWSC and have been working here for 6 years.

Now I have a big and active family of my own. My wife, Juliet, and I are approaching 15 years of marriage and we have five children. You will see my family hiking, biking, and skiing on the trails around town, fishing at Allison Point, or selling lemonade and paddle boarding at Ruth Pond in the summer.”

Working at PWSC, what are your job roles and responsibilities?

“I have an awesome job. At PWSC, my title is Assistant to the Director, and my duties are quite diverse. I have responsibilities in human resources, information technology, the Health & Fitness Center, student government, and I also teach a civic engagement class.”

What are you most passionate about in your job?

“It is when I can help a team work strategically to accomplish something greater than any individual can accomplish alone. I am fortunate to be in higher education and on a team where we are helping people to open doors to improve their lives.”

Having many responsibilities at the college, how do you balance your professional life and your personal life?

“Keeping balance in life is something I try to be intentional about. I have responsibilities for work, family, church, community, and my personal health. One approach for balance is to pursue programs and activities where many roles can connect. I also do my best to surround myself with good people who have desires and goals that are compatible with mine. For example, I helped set up rock climbing classes through PWSC, collaborated with community partners, and encouraged family and friends to enroll because it’s fun.  I am fortunate to have a job where I can do this.”

You mention that you encourage your family to participate in some of the athletic activities, like rock climbing. How else do you encourage your family to exercise and stay healthy together?

“We are still figuring it out. We exercise a little at home, but it’s more about having an active lifestyle. Each person in my family has different interests, but each one has a few sports or activities they enjoy. We try to communicate, set goals, and do a variety of activities together to keep it interesting, inspiring, and fun.  One more thing is Juliet and I try to do active dates. A recent date was going to the H&FC to play the new virtual reality fitness games. We had a lot of laughs and tons of fun. I highly recommend it.”

Ryan Belnap and the rest of us at PWSC are here to support our students and community during this time and we will be here when it is time to once again fill the halls and Health and Fitness Center with our wonderful students and community members.