Balancing Act: Gymnast, CHS Student Sticks the Landing in Sports and School

‘This is where you need to be’

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Don’t look now, but it’s not just the basketball teams that are making historic runs this athletic season.

It’s time to pay a little attention to your Gymnastics Wildcats, too.

Ranked No. 9 in the country, this team is on a roll in the month of March, as they took out No. 5 LSU and No. 12 Michigan State before they will perform in their conference championships this weekend.

Helping this team reach new heights is Shealyn Luksik, a 5-foot-4 junior from Pittsburgh who just happens to be a Human Health Sciences major.

Performing on the uneven bars and balance beam, Luksik has continually set high scores over the past month, proving that the Wildcats have one of the most talented bars teams in the country.

The Wildcats are seeded as the fifth-best team in the SEC leading up to the conference championships — and it’s an exciting time for everyone on UK’s gymnastics team.

Here’s 5 questions with … UK gymnast and HHS major Shealyn Luksik.

1. Why UK?

Oh, when I was being recruited, I was either choosing between the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Kentucky.

When I visited Kentucky, I came on campus and I just got the feeling of how they take care of their girls in gymnastics. The campus was just beautiful, and they have great athletics here. Plus, I knew I would get support in both athletics and academics.

I was just attracted to the whole environment here.

2. Why the College of Health Sciences?

Well, I knew that I wanted to go into the health field.

My mom’s a physical therapist, so she understands it, and she was kind of helping me pick what would be the best route to get me to where I wanted to go — which is PA school.

Right, but then my mom was looking, and she was like, ‘Well, there’s the College of Health Sciences.’ Since I grew up working and seeing my Mom doing her work, I found myself interested in things like orthopedics and health and sports.  

Overall, I think it’s going very well. I’ve finished most of my science classes, and I’ve learned that we’re just getting prepared in a different way for working in the health professions. They’re not just teaching you the science-based information that you need to know, but they’re getting at the deeply personal human connection you need in the healthcare system.

You want to treat your patients as people — not just as another number — so I think CHS does a really great job in helping the students understand that.

3. So, tell us about the events you’re interested and participate in?

For the past two years, I was strictly competing on bars because I’ve kind of always excelled at the uneven bars. But I also got the opportunity to compete on beam as well, which has been super exciting.

Kentucky and our coach Tim Garrison have improved the environment and atmosphere of UK gymnastics. It was another reason why I wanted to come here.

SEC gymnastics is just incredible, and we want to win — that's our goal in athletics, we want to win — so that was kind of really a reason why I wanted to come here and help the team rise.

4. How do you sell the sport to fans who may not have watched it yet?

Well, I tell them that they need to come. The environment and atmosphere is so cool.

My roommate came to a meet, and she said she didn’t know what to expect. Then she saw all of us doing flips, and music was going, and she loved it so much she wanted to come back.

Once people come out and watch, they see it’s just like a lot of other sports and they love it.

5. How do you balance the athletic regimen and the academic schedule?

Obviously, my first two years or freshman year, my advisors made me manage my time and put academics as a priority. But as I got into the College of Health Sciences I kind of learned how to be a college student-athlete.

I’ve been able to figure out how to manage my time on my own and just continue to put academics first and athletics as a priority, but know that I'm a student first.

My professors are just really supportive and if I walk up to them, introduce myself in the beginning of class, and let them know I'm an athlete — they’re all super supportive.

BONUS: What do you tell folks when they ask you about your experience in the College of Health Sciences?

It’s a program that helps me get to where I want to go. It helps me build my resume and experience and just kind of understand the health professions in a way that other majors wouldn’t prepare me for.

And the staff and the students just make you feel comfortable. If you’ve got the drive, and you want a job in the health professions, this is where you need to be.


Throughout March for Women’s History Month, the College of Health Sciences will spotlight Women Making History. Whether students, faculty, staff or alumni, these women are leading their fields of research, crossing traditional academic boundaries and impacting Kentucky’s most pressing challenges.