Student and Academic Life

Q&A With a UK Student Wellness Ambassador

Mark Cornelison l UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 18, 2019) — The University of Kentucky believes health and wellness is a key component of ensuring a student's academic success. The university offers a wealth of programs and resources to facilitate healthy lifestyles. To help promote and educate students across campus on healthy habits and wellness as a whole, Campus Recreation and Wellness created Student Wellness Ambassadors (SWA). SWAs work collaboratively to inform students on a variety of student well-being topics ranging from alcohol and drug prevention, stress reduction, healthy sleep habits and more.

To learn more about SWAs and their role on campus, we sat down with Rachel Reynolds, UK junior and SWA of three years.

UKNow: Who are the wellness ambassadors? 

Reynolds: The wellness ambassadors are a team of students of all ages and majors who have a passion for people and wellness. Each team member has different experiences and interests that they bring to the table, and I’ve always been impressed by the diversity of thought that our group has. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and together, we have a team of leaders, innovators and strategists.

UKNow: What is their role on campus? 

Reynolds: Wellness ambassadors are peer educators and influencers. They are the bridge between wellness professionals and students, allowing for better communication and education about wellness resources available at UK. We’re here to bring the student perspective into work and come out with fact-based knowledge that can help the students and friends around us.

UKNow: How can students get in touch with wellness ambassadors and in what cases should students reach out to wellness ambassadors? 

Reynolds: Students are always welcome to reach out, and we encourage them to use what we have available! If students have general questions about wellness, we can provide them with resources on campus that specialize in different areas of financial, social, emotional, physical and mental wellness. Additionally, students can contact us if they want to organize a program or event around wellness. They can contact us through our website, or they can check out our events on WellKentucky.org and see us in person! 

UKNow: What types of outreach programs do wellness ambassadors organize? 

Reynolds: We participate in UK 101 classes in a couple of different ways. We have lesson plans for alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and sleep/meditation. Additionally, we often partner with other wellness resources — for example, the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center and the Counseling Center — to provide them with more visibility and resources. We also do many tabling events and activities throughout the year, and we almost always have great giveaways that emphasize what we’re talking about. For example, we partnered with Campus Recreation at Yoga at Kroger, an event where students got a free yoga mat and a lesson on Kroger Field.

UKNow: What resources on campus are there to help students improve their well-being? 

Reynolds: UK has so many resources for students that it is impossible to list them all here. However, some of the major resources include the Community of Concern, the Counseling Center, the VIP Center, Campus Recreation, MoneyCATS, University Health Services and the Collegiate Recovery Community.

UKNow: What events should students look for in the near future? 

Reynolds: We have plenty of events coming up! A really fun one is Fall into Fitness on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Most of our events and more can be found on wellkentucky.org.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.