A young professional’s journey to a career in her hometown


Family ties, rewarding job opportunities and small town perks are just a few of the tricks that brought John Glenn High School graduate Tessa Leppek back to Bay County after a stint in the Windy City.

Tessa Leppek graduated from John Glenn High School and Delta College before leaving the area to pursue her studies. She says a job and family ties brought her back to the community. (Photo courtesy of Tessa Leppek)With talent retention and attraction being of major importance in the region, Route Bay City takes a look at what kept Leppek here.

Leppek, 25, grew up in Bangor Township with her parents and three sisters and graduated from John Glenn in 2014. After completing two years at Delta College, Leppek went on to study at Eastern Michigan University to get a a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

“I was told that exercise science was the best entry degree to enter any medical field. That’s why I chose this, so that I could enter the O& P (orthotics and prosthetics) It was my plan A since high school, to get into prosthetics,” says Leppek.

It was during his time at Eastern that Leppek began researching internship options in the Bay County area, eventually landing on Oakland Orthopedic Appliances Inc., 515 Mulholland St. It was during his four-year internship. months there that she began to realize that this was the place she would want to return to for her career.

At Oakland Orthopedic, Leppek says she’s able to use cutting-edge technology to help patients discover new normals. (Photo courtesy of Tessa Leppek)“I have observed many other places in Eastern, but fell in love with this company.”

Although clinicians aren’t usually hired after the internship, Leppek was able to secure an assistant position after graduating from Eastern in 2018. Leppek says, “It’s a really nice family business. They take patient care seriously. Some companies only look at the numbers, but here, if something is wrong, we fix it.

Leppek fell in love with the company’s slogan, “Careful People Changing Lives,” and began living that mantra the following year as she applied to schools for her graduate program to to become a master prosthetist orthotist (MPO).

“There are only about 12 schools in the country that offer this program. I was accepted to Northwestern University of Chicago, which is considered one of the sponsoring schools for the MPO program.

Oakland told him a position would be waiting for him when he returned, so Leppek embarked on the two-year program, eventually graduating in the midst of the pandemic.

Leppek works with patients of all ages. (Photo courtesy of Tessa Leppek)“I was able to walk away a bit and get it out of my system, but I always wanted to go home. It feels like a big city here, but it’s nice that it’s not.

Upon his return, Leppek signed a contract and began his two-year residency in Oakland in 2021. Corey Smith, one of the owners of Oakland Orthopedic as well as a board-certified prosthetist, saw many traits in Leppek that l encouraged to hire him.

“First and foremost, we have very strong roots in Bay City and Bay County. This is where our headquarters was born 50 years ago. When Tessa sought out our company to intern, getting to know her and knowing she was local was a big plus. We love supporting our local professionals, so that was the first thing that drew us to her,” Smith said.

While the local roots gave him an advantage, his skills and demeanor at work sealed the deal, according to Smith. “She has a phenomenal personality. Everyone she comes in contact with is connected to that person. She makes them feel comfortable.”

As Leppek nears the end of his first year of residency, his enthusiasm for his profession has not diminished in the least.

“My favorite part is the opportunity to help patients and change their new normal. With the prostheses, you lost a limb. It’s not coming back. We have to adapt to what you have now. It’s always a great feeling to see the process and gain the trust of the patient and family.

Additionally, working with pediatric patients and being able to use some of the most advanced technologies in the field have been highlights of Leppek’s career.

Oakland partners with larger manufacturers, such as global orthopedics leader Ossur, headquartered in Iceland. This gives him the opportunity to pilot innovative techniques and equipment.

“When Tessa sought out our company to do an internship, getting to know her and knowing she was local was a big plus. We love supporting our local professionals.’
– Corey Smith of Oakland Orthopedic

One piece of equipment is Power Knee, a motorized microprocessor knee that helps above-knee amputees regain and maintain mobility. This new knee offers an alternative to the mechanical or hydraulic knee.

Leppek says she enjoys working with the latest technology because it speeds up the process of helping patients find their new normal.

Leppek says these types of professional opportunities will keep her close to her hometown. She lives in Kawkawlin with her boyfriend and two dogs, Titos and Miley.

“All my family is here. I never planned to go anywhere else. Bay City is growing and prospering and becoming more of a tourist town. New restaurants and stores are opening up, and I see and learn new things every day now. It is the house. ”


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