Many changes have been implemented by Student Wellness this year, including a new health educator, Jamie Valis.
Valis comes from Scranton, Pa. but is originally from Maryland. Her move to Elizabethtown College brought her closer to her family, by whom she is very inspired and to whom she is very close. She chose to apply for the position at Etown because the motto “Educate for Service” is relevant to her own life.
This position fits Valis well, as she incorporates physical activity and wellness in her own life because she has prior experience at the University of Scranton in addition to positions at other institutions. She has a quote from Michael Jordan on her email signature: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” “He’s my hero,” Valis said.
Valis considers her major responsibility at the College to be advising the peer educators in the Student Wellness Awareness Team (SWAT), which took the place of SPARC this year. SWAT consists of about 15 students with two co-directors, seniors Jenny Malik and Hannah Reagan. Valis works with the peer educators to run health promotion activities on campus.
“I think [SWAT is] about just being dedicated to health and wellness issues amongst college students, and I think our students offer a way to disseminate information and concepts and ideas to allow their peers to make decisions for a healthier lifestyle,” Valis said. “Peer education is crucial; research shows that peer education, so a student talking to another student, is much more impactful than a professional staff [member] talking to a student.”
In addition to SWAT, Valis also runs the WELL and plans programming for student wellness awareness on campus. This past Monday, the team held a suicide prevention event to honor those who have taken their own lives. In October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there will be events to inform the students and make them more aware of this deadly disease. There will also be programs during the last week of October for Alcohol Awareness Week. “We’ll do just a variety of different formats for presentations, workshops and different programming needs,” Valis said.
Right now, Valis plans to focus on getting to know the College as well as possible, especially in terms of student wellness, the current students and what has worked well for the department in the past, as well as what hasn’t. “I guess just growth and some change for health promotion on campus is really my major plan,” she said. “Reaching more students in more impactful ways would kind of be a good summary of it.” One of Valis’ goals is to make an impact, whether that be at the College or on a larger scale.
When Valis gets off work, she is welcomed home by her pug, Mosby. She loves to do “anything related to physical activity” including kayaking and crossfit, which is a workout and training program for different events such as triathlons and marathons. Valis plans to do the Baltimore Marathon this October, but as a relay. While she hasn’t done it yet, sky diving is on her bucket list. Currently, Valis is working on her Ph.D., which she hopes to finish soon. In the near future, she’d also like to buy a house and settle down.