Exercise Science Alumna Thrives as Aesthetic Medical Provider and Businesswoman

Written By: Stella Canfield | January 16, 2024

Karli Plunkett helping a patient.

Karli Plunkett ‘14 came to UCF to pursue her bachelor’s in exercise science [a program that’s since evolved into kinesiology] and during her years as a college student became increasingly interested in healthcare and wellness. She became trained to work as an esthetician, working nights while juggling her courseload and realizing her growing entrepreneurial passion. After graduation, she attended physician assistant school at Nova Southeastern University, starting her own business as a facialist as she completed her studies. Now, as the owner of Nectar Aesthetics Med Spa, Plunkett is using her expertise as a medical aesthetician to fulfill her mission to help people both feel and look their best.


How did your studies in exercise science inform your interest in becoming an aesthetic medical provider and businesswoman?

The exercise science program at UCF taught me how to create personalized plans for individuals. This skill is crucial both in exercise science and in devising treatment and prioritization plans for my current patients. The program has since evolved into the Division of Kinesiology and is housed within the College of Health Professions and Sciences. Additionally, it served as my introduction to the medical field and prepared me for my current Physician Assistant program.


What type of foundational and transferable skills did you acquire at UCF that have served you well in your profession?

My time at UCF significantly enhanced my problem-solving abilities. Instead of merely absorbing and regurgitating fixed ideas, I learned how to approach challenges using First Principles thinking. This method involves stripping away assumptions and solving issues step-by-step, based on fundamental truths. This skill has been invaluable to me, as it extends beyond my exercise science education to problem-solving in various areas of life.



Karli Plunkett injecting lip filler into a patient.

Can you tell us about the spas and how they’ve helped people?

People feel more like themselves when they get back the look of their younger self. I’ve seen restoring their youthful faces transform our patients’ lives in more ways than one. Beyond the obvious aesthetic improvements, like smoother skin and a youthful glow, the real magic happens in their newfound confidence and vitality. It’s incredibly rewarding to see someone walk out of our spa not just looking, but also feeling like the best version of themselves. The joy and self-assurance they gain often ripple out into other areas of their lives.


Tell us about your business’ philanthropic endeavors.

We’ve found a great way to naturally fit giving into our med spa business. Most practices that don’t double-book appointments will require a deposit to hold each appointment. If a patient no-shows their appointment, the med spa keeps the deposit. Instead of keeping the deposits, we donate them to Samaritan’s Village. Samaritan’s Village is an Orlando non-profit dedicated to helping trafficking survivors rebuild their lives. This way, our patients have an incentive to give us a heads-up to reschedule, instead of no-showing, and we can support Samaritan’s Village when we experience a no-show.

Personally, my husband and I are interested in effective altruism. One of our favorite monthly charities is GiveDirectly, which performs direct cash transfers to people living in extreme poverty (under $2.15/day). They manage to give 90 cents from every dollar directly to those recipients. I think that’s incredible.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The best part of my job is handing my patients the mirror after their dermal filler treatment. Botox is great, but the results take about 2 weeks. There’s nothing like immediate results!

I’m a practitioner first and a business owner second. Some parts of business ownership are fun, but owning my business mostly allows me the freedom to treat my patients exactly as I think they deserve to be treated.


What did you love the most about your time at UCF?

So many things. For one, I moved to Orlando for UCF. That changed my whole life trajectory because I never left! UCF itself is such a great school. I lived on or near campus the whole time, and as I look back now I feel really thankful for the people I was surrounded by. I think this goes underappreciated, but UCF has a great screening mechanism for getting the right students in. Being surrounded by people who are serious about their future made it easy for me to stay focused on what matters most.

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