Spartan Showcase: Katherine Shiells

Soccer put Case Western Reserve University on Katherine Shiells’s radar. Initially recruited to play on the varsity women’s soccer team, Shiells was sold by the university’s rigorous academic and competitive athletic offerings.

Katherine Shiells

While Shiells’s soccer career came to an end with a medical retirement, she remains an actively involved student. A rising third-year majoring in cognitive science and psychology on the pre-physician assistant track, Shiells is passionate about the sleep medicine field and has set her sights on bringing more awareness to the subject.

“Sleep medicine affects individuals of all ages and by raising understanding and awareness, we can learn more about this multifaceted, interdisciplinary field and become advocates moving forward in our careers,” said Shiells, who is expected to graduate May 2026. 

During her undergraduate journey, Shiells created Sleep Health Society, which aims to foster community and sleep health education among pre-health, pre-medical and other CWRU students with similar interests. She also found support systems as an active participant of Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity and Delta Epsilon Mu Inc. (DEM), a co-ed, professional fraternity for students interested in pre-health professions. 

Additionally, she is membership liaison of the Pre-Physician Assistant Club, a peer notetaker volunteer for the Office of Accommodated Testing and Services, and a member of CWRU’s Spartans for Special Olympics. Beyond campus, Shiells is a state-tested nursing assistant (STNA) at Judson Manor Aged Care, located in Cleveland. 

Read on to learn more about Shiell’s academic experience and involvement. 

Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

1. What drew you to Case Western Reserve University? What led you to pursue your areas of study? 

I knew that I wanted to go into the medical field, and CWRU’s numerous opportunities in research, hospital resources and like-minded students ultimately drew me to the school. 

CWRU’s cognitive science and psychology departments have so many different options for classes in these areas, which makes it exciting to shape my major according to what I find the most interesting. 

2. What inspired you to work at Judson Manor?

Judson Manor is located right next to Wade Lagoon, so not only is it a very close walk for me from my dorm, but it is filled with some truly amazing people. I work as a STNA and have formed relationships with Judson’s amazing residents while helping them with their daily activities. 

The Judson Manor community is a very unique place as it is home to numerous past professors from CWRU, past physicians of University Hospital and Cleveland Clinic, and some other very inspiring individuals with amazing stories. I have learned a lot from these residents and truly enjoy my time working there. 

3. What motivated you to create Sleep Health Society?

Personally, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea when I was 12 years old, and have used a [Continuous Positive Airway Pressure](CPAP) machine ever since. Having this very uncommon experience at such a young age has strongly shaped my perspective and appreciation for the sleep medicine field and the more I have learned, the more I want to share my experiences. 

I created this club this past year to help raise awareness and deepen pre-med and pre-health students’ knowledge of the diverse field of sleep medicine and how it has a role across so many fields of medicine. Whether you are a nursing, pre-med, psychology, biomedical engineering, or business student, the field of sleep medicine is quite significant, and the subject of sleep quality continues to grow in importance. 

4. What are your post-graduate plans and aspirations? 

I hope to go to physician assistant school once I graduate from CWRU, and I hope to eventually go into the pediatric field as a STNA. Over the summer, I work as a medical assistant at a pediatrician’s office and absolutely love working with younger patients! I hope to eventually be the kind of sleep medicine provider that I was so fortunate to meet when I was younger.