My Student Experience: Wellness Wednesdays Offer College of Education Students Opportunities to Center Mental Health and Well-being
Life as a college student can be challenging, especially as assignments, essays and projects start to build on top of the stresses already brought on by the pandemic. Attempting to carve out time for personal wellness can feel impossible, which is why the NC State College of Education’s Office of Student Success and Strategic Community Engagement created Wellness Wednesdays, a weekly series of programming designed to offer students opportunities to center their mental health and well-being.
“Even if that’s the only time that they get a chance to focus on themselves, then that’s time we can be intentional about creating,” said Kayla Baker, assistant director of student success.
Wellness Wednesdays started last semester, when Baker, along with Alex Kappus, senior director of student success; and Crystal Espey, Teaching Fellows director at NC State, came together with the goal of providing additional wellness opportunities for students.
Depending on the week, Wellness Wednesdays are held in virtual, in-person or asynchronous formats, with the goal being to meet students where they are. The programming itself varies. At past Wellness Wednesdays, students have had the opportunity to hear from wellness professionals, learn more about resources on campus and engage in activities like dancing or yoga.
“I like how Wellness Wednesdays give us a weekly opportunity to pause, connect and invest in our well-being,” said Andreas Jordan ’25, a freshman technology, engineering and design education major.
Susan Chen ’23MED, a master’s student in the Higher Education Administration program who has attended a number of the Wellness Wednesday sessions, says a focus on personal wellness is a key life skill for educators.
“This is a field where we constantly give, but at the same time, we also need to take time for ourselves,” Chen said. “After experiencing a pandemic, we recognize the importance of maintaining proper wellness, whether it be mental, physical, emotional or intellectual.”
Chen was even inspired to lead a Wellness Wednesday session of her own, entitled “Creating Your Semester Wellness Action Plan,” which focused on how to prioritize and plan wellness goals.
Jordan said it was helpful to be able to learn new wellness strategies from a graduate student.
“From that session, I learned how to plan and allocate my time for various parts of my life and also include self-care in my routine,” Jordan said.
Finding ways to expose students to self-care concepts and resources is important, Baker says, and through Wellness Wednesdays, students have been able to attend a number of sessions led by staff from NC State Wellness and Recreation.
“Bringing in those campus partners, it increases students’ awareness of the resources on campus, and I’m hoping that it will kind of spark some interest for them,” Baker said.
For Chen, it’s valuable for all students to learn what’s available.
“There are a ton of untapped resources on campus with regard to wellness,” Chen said. “The primary goal for these sessions is to remember to take care of our health and utilize these resources.”
While connecting students with resources is a key goal, Wellness Wednesdays also serve to provide a sense of community within the College of Education.
“I think it is good for students to be able to talk about things without worrying about being judged,” said Cigdem Meral ’22PHD, a doctoral student in the Teacher Education and Learning Sciences learning design and technology program area of study. “It is kind of like a safe space.”
While being a college student is difficult, Jordan says Wellness Wednesdays are making things a little easier.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed with work and Wellness Wednesdays are a great way to take a break and learn useful information to improve your well-being in all aspects of your life,” Jordan said.
Registration for upcoming Wellness Wednesdays is available here.