Former Cyclones Enjoy Successful Careers


Left to Right: Erica Evans, Kandice Beenken

It’s always great to see student-athletes go on and enter the professional world. It’s even better to see them dong something they love and worked hard for. This is the case for Kandice Beenken and Erica (Junod) Evans. Both graduated from Iowa State University and went on to become doctors. Recently, the two took some time out of their busy schedules to write about their experiences and accomplishments and how Iowa State prepared them for the road ahead.  We thought it would be nice to share parts of these letters with Cyclone fans.

Evans is a foot and ankle surgery resident at Western Pennsylvania Hospital and her letter is below.

“While playing for Coach Fennelly and his staff, I quickly realized how detailed and tailored their scouting report and game plan was for each team we played. One of the many lessons I received from the women’s basketball staff at Iowa State will be the importance of attention to detail. I will tell you, that in the medical field, this attribute is absolutely necessary. Even after graduating almost 10 years ago, I still use this lesson that I learned at Iowa State on every patient as I review their history and physical, and/or plan their surgical procedure. Each patient that presents has their own story and pathology, and it is essential to approach each patient with a very focused, detailed plan.

I have also come to realize and appreciate the importance of being part of, and working as a team. At Iowa State, my teammates became lifelong friends. I strongly feel that when a team enjoys being together and working hard together, they also tend to be more successful. At Iowa State, our teams have been very close groups, and you too will get to appreciate and cherish the many wonderful experiences and teammates that you will encounter.

The other thing I cherished while on the ISU campus was that our fans and fan support is very unique. Coach Fennelly and the entire women’s basketball staff have done an amazing job of getting the fans to embrace the women’s basketball program.”

Beenken is an orthopedic surgery resident at Mt. Clemen’s Regional Medical Center and her letter is below.

“I could never have accomplished what I have in my life without the support of both my families.  My Iowa State family (coaches, teammates, and fans) have always shown unconditional support and encouragement as I worked toward pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor and now orthopedic surgeon.  College, medical school, and residency can be challenging and knowing I have the support of so many behind me gives me the strength to get through the difficult times.

Whether it is three tests in a week in medical school or four trauma patients all with emergent orthopedic injuries, my calmness and time management comes from the lessons I learned balancing academics and athletics during college.

I probably learned more about how to succeed at life then I did about basketball while I was at Iowa State.   The lessons of   “attention to detail,” “being accountable,” and “Not settling for average,” being the characteristics instilled in me by the coaches as the ones I see and reflect on the most in my life.  Much like a basketball team, a medical team is only as successfully as the people who work together to accomplish a goal.  In medicine all three of these characteristics can be the difference between an optimal result and potential morbidity for your patient.  I feel the success I have had thus far in my career is because of these traits.

“Do the right thing” was a quote often heard during my time at Iowa State.  The best part was, the people saying it, actually lived their lives this way.  As I left college and entered medical school and then residency I quickly saw how the phrase is easy used, but not always followed.  When faced with my biggest “do the right thing” moment during residency, the decision for me was easy as I had been surrounded by so many in the past who had set an example of excellence.  I want to be the doctor and person who lives their life by this philosophy, much like my mentors (my coaches) in college.

Our team doctor, Dr. Shulman not only did a great job taking care of me and keeping me healthy during my time at Iowa State but was also a mentor as I pursued a career in medicine.  While applying for medical school he offered advice on interviewing, what to put in an application, and keys to success when I got there.  He continued his support and allowed me to come back during medical school and spend a rotation in his clinic.  Although it is always great to come back to Iowa State, it was extra special to spend time with and learn from such an influential person in my life.”

We hope you enjoyed hearing from former some former women’s basketball players. We hope to bring you more stories throughout the year!


About Nicole Leusink

I'm in my fifth year at Iowa State as the communications director for women's basketball. I also assist with football and swimming and diving. I am a 2011 graduate of the University of Florida and a Pittsburgh native. I am excited to give you a behind the scenes look at Iowa State athletics. Feel free to send me an e-mail at You can also find me on twitter @NicoleGreiner. And as always, Go Cyclones!
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One Response to Former Cyclones Enjoy Successful Careers

  1. Pingback: Twister Sisters see success in life after ISU

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