Be the Difference, Be a Wellness Peer Educator
“Ok, this is definitely something I’d like to be a part of,” I thought.
Sitting around in a circle on the first day of training, we all looked around at each other in uncertainty. “So… do you guys know exactly what we’ll be doing?” someone asked.
If you google “What is a Wellness Peer Educator” (which is what I did when I was interested in the position) you’ll mostly see a bunch of college programs around the nation that promote health and wellness initiatives to their students. “Ok, this is definitely something I’d like to be a part of,” I thought. But it wasn’t until the night before I started the job did I actually start to wonder what I would be doing in terms of Marquette’s campus, what would my role be here?
This is a relatively new position, the “Wellness Peer” program was completely revamped in 2015 to introduce 10 brand new peers to promote wellness around Marquette. I was one of the originals, and have been working as a WPE for almost two years now! At first I’ll admit, it was challenging to be thrown into a position without much of an idea of what it was I would be doing or what types of responsibilities we would have. However, after just a few short weeks we really began to find our roles on campus and how we could really impact the Marquette community.
At first, people had absolutely no idea who we were. They mostly just liked our snacks.. stress balls… thought the free yoga was cool. However, once we started doing more events, students on campus started to know who we were.
One of the best things about being a Wellness Peer is having the freedom to focus on topics that you are really interested in. Over the last couple of years I have taken up an interest in nutrition and physical wellness. As a WPE, I have definitely expanded my knowledge in those topics and am educated enough to guide other students on campus to live a more holistic and healthy life. It’s extremely rewarding to see students take up an interest in wellness and actually benefit from the programs that we put on.
One huge portion of our jobs is advocating for health and wellness initiatives in the Residence Halls. Our Wellness Peers coordinate with the CPC’s or “Community Programming Councils” to bring programs to the students such as yoga, nutrition presentations, stress-busters around midterms and finals, strength training workouts, and basically any other wellness topic residents are interested in! I love being able to interact with the residents and hear their wellness interests and goals.
One new aspect of being a Wellness Peer this semester is the start up of our “Wellness Peer Coaching” program. We have started to accept students for one-on-one coaching with our older peers to help students work on setting and accomplishing their wellness goals! We take on a mentorship role to give students advice and tips to help them stay on track with their health-related goals while navigating the college life.
The Wellness Peers are also involved in Red Watch Band Training for greek life students. This training is aimed towards preventing acute alcohol intoxication situations on campus and train students to be able to recognize these situations and know what to do. We’ve trained over 400 students in this program. We also help facilitate Bystander training to all sophomores and a new Bringing in the Bystander program to incoming freshman. These programs focus on preventing sexual assault and other forms of violence around campus. I love knowing that as a Wellness Peer, I’m making a difference on campus to make Marquette a healthier and safer place!
One aspect of being a Wellness Peer that has been different than any other job i’ve ever had is their focus on self-care and our own personal goal setting. I’ve honestly never focused on much self-care before starting this position, but our supervisors make time to check in with us periodically and make sure we’re happy and on track of our own goals. We’ve meditated before and taken the time to map out long-term and short-term goals and steps for how we will accomplish them. I’ve never felt more mentally strong and stable in my life (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true). It’s helped me with my school work and how to manage my stress better when things get busy and overwhelming. I couldn’t ask for a better team and group of supervisors to work with! As a Wellness Peer, not only do I help others but I’ve really taken the time to take care of myself as well.
No matter what wellness interests you have, whether it be physical health, mental health, sexual health, the Wellness Peers is a great job to expand on those interests. You will see yourself grow, as well as the students that you interact with.