Students stand up and stretch at the 2015 Student Wellness Retreat. Photo/Joe Putrock
More than 500 students, faculty and staff flocked to the Albany Hilton April 16-18 for the third Student Wellness Retreat. The students had the opportunity to hear two motivational speakers: 2008 Olympics Gold medalist Shawn Johnson, who competed on the senior women’s gymnastics team for the United States, and Jerome Love, the author of a best-selling book, “Get Up, Get Out and Get Motivated.”
During the day, there were plenty of workshops on topics such as “Understanding Your Personality and “How to Work With Others: The Myers Briggs Type Indicator;” “Steps to a Pain-free Life; Improving Interpersonal Connection in a Wired World;” and “Health Apps” (the latest in wellness technologies from Fitbit to diapers that take health readings). There also was “Taking Stress Out of Your Job Search, Stigma Fighters” (fighting the stigmas associated with mental illness in young adults) and “Laughing Matters: Using Humor as a Healthy Habit.”
Lindsay Kolk, from Corning, has attended the previous two retreats. She is earning her degree in human services, with a concentration in substance-abuse counseling. “I love it,” she said. “It’s so good to get away and focus on myself. So many times you are focusing on all the different roles you play – counselor, student, mom -- that there’s not much time for you.” Her young daughter, who is taking gymnastics, is a fan of Johnson, so Kolk was prepared with photos for the speaker to sign.
Naomi Smalls, from Brooklyn, is completing her degree in business, with a concentration in health care administration. She said she enrolled in college for career advancement and to provide a role model for her son, a senior in high school. Smalls has attended two of the three retreats, enjoying the health fair the most. She said she’d like to see future speakers come from the health care field to provide some practical advice for students.
Many attended with spouses, friends, parents and children. Greg Duggins, from Hartsdale, was accompanied by wife Pat, a school guidance counselor. He attended for personal improvement. “I really need to get in shape,” he said. He found the workshop on aromatherapy “fascinating,” and said, “I was shocked that Shawn [Johnson] seemed so down to earth.” His wife, Patricia, was impressed by the amount of time President Merodie Hancock spent mingling with students. She said the president had chatted with them at their lunch table for about half an hour. Jamal Arabady, who studies at the Buffalo location, was busy taking photos for the center’s Facebook page, saying he was helping out the college’s Office of Communications and Government relations. “I like to promote positive activities, to bring awareness to other students, so they know what exists and so they can attend next time,” he explained. Some of his photography has been posted on a wall at the center in Buffalo. Arabady was accompanied by his five children and wife, and plans to earn his degree in business administration this year. His photography has been a hobby since he was a child, he explained.
Jacqueline Place, who studies at the Saratoga Unit, said she was a first-time attendee. “I needed a little vacation,” she explained. She originally planned to treat her mother, but when she had to withdraw to deal with a family issue, she brought along a male friend. “It’s a chance to get to see the faces behind the computers,” she said. Her favorite part? “All of the very powerful speeches. I bought books. It’s been a really good experience.”
The retreat was organized by the Office of Collegewide Student Services, directed by Pat Myers. Andy Binder spearheaded the event, with Danielle Boardman organizing the service awards. The event committee, besides Myers, Binder and Boardman, were Anita DeCianni-Brown, David Henahan, Casey Kohler, Susan Eve LeClair, Casey Lumbra, Audrey Lynch, Vonda Senya, Kim Stote and Kelly Williams. Other college staff and faculty from various offices and locations across the college also assisted. The event is supported by the Student Health Fee.