By: Jake Meikel

Who would have ever thought that simply going to take a walk and living a healthy lifestyle would be too much to ask for?

In 2005, as a grad student in North Carolina, Linda Oakleaf collapsed from an aneurysm while out for a run.

It turns out the aneurysm was from a brain hemorrhage. The hemorrhage caused her to have another aneurysm, which called for surgery in the summer of 2018. Oakleaf, an assistant professor, recalls the outpour of support from her colleagues and could not be more appreciative.

“I had to be gone for the last week of classes in the spring semester, because they were trying to add coils and stents to fix my aneurysm,” Oakleaf said. “My colleagues covered for me without a murmur about it.”

Oakleaf is an assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation at Western. She studies leisure and LGBT issues. Her most recent study has shown that physical activity in transgender communities “is in the toilet.”

She recently interviewed individuals in the LGBT community. After talking with them about the time they spent doing recreational activity in parks, Oakleaf found these individuals have a hard time going out to do their normal exercise routines.

“They would say, ‘yeah, we love parks; they are great,’” Oakleaf said. “And then they would say, ‘and then I watch to make sure people don’t kill me.’”

Oakleaf’s research will be powerful for not only the transgender community, but, also potentially, for those who aren’t as openly welcoming of community members in the LGBTQIA.

“It was pretty clear that the things that folks were talking about were barriers to physical activity,” Oakleaf said.

Her intelligence and her drive remained untouched after her procedures.

Above all, she is not afraid of any challenge. Her next big milestone is to attempt the Harbor-to-Harbor Trek in San Diego. A challenge like this goes to show how, according to her, she wants to be useful.

“I want to leave the world better than I found it,” Oakleaf said.

Her heart is a reflection of her mission to help others, and her legacy is pretty well-established as it is.