director of health education at WesWELL, promotes mindfulness and
responsibility in all areas of health and wellness in order to prevent
disease, injury and other health problems.
WesWELL Director Promotes Prevention
Q: Lisa, the Davison Health Center is home to three health-related offices,
WesWELL, Health Services and the Office of Behavioral Health. How do these
A: WesWELL is the health education office so we focus on prevention
education on health issues relevant to college students. Health Services is
our medical clinic, which provides treatment and preventative care for
illness, injury, sexual health, travel consults and such, while the Office
of Behavioral Health for Students offers confidential mental and emotional
health support. We like to consider the Davison Health Center “one stop
shopping” for our student’s health needs!
Q: As the director of health education, which division do you oversee, and
how long have you worked in this position?
A: I have overseen WesWELL since I joined Wesleyan in July 2000. And as the
sole professional staff member in the office, I sometimes joke that I am
WesWELL, though of course that’s not true – I supervise a great group of
students who round out the staffing.
Q: What is the mission of WesWELL?
A: Our mission is to promote mindfulness and responsibility in all areas of
health and wellness in order to prevent disease, injury and other health
problems. We strive to promote good health of mind, body and spirit by
helping members of the Wesleyan community, particularly students, connect
with resources and gain knowledge that will aid in the enhancement of their
well-being, encourage self-discovery, and support their intellectual
proficiency and academic success.
Q: Do you meet with students one-on-one or what is your interaction with
A: I do meet with students one-on-one, but more often I lead workshops or
discussions with groups and work with student peer educators who then go on
to create their own outreach efforts. If I do meet with an individual
student, it might be to help a Residence Life staff member with programming
ideas, to assist a student who is looking for resources or ideas on a health
issue or even as a judicial referral for an alcohol violation.
Q: In addition to offering health education programs, how does WesWELL help
A: The Peer Health Advocates and I reach out to students in a variety of
ways – workshops are just one method. We might sponsor an outside speaker or
provide a training to help students build new skills. I also sponsor a
number of non-credit fitness classes for students and employees every
semester. Students who drop by the office will also find we have a health
resource library with books, videos, journals, periodicals, and brochures
that address many different issues.
We even advocated for changes to campus policy and practices to help create
a healthier environment for students. The most notable example of this is
the implementation of smoke-free residential living areas in 2002. The Peer
Health Advocates lead the effort and the policy was implemented the
following academic year.
Q: What are typical concerns or questions students have when they visit the
A: It really varies. Since we address a wide range of issues, it could be a
student who has a concern about a friend who is engaging in risky drinking
behaviors or who is seeking funding for an event on breast cancer awareness
or who is simply looking for information for eating more healthfully. But
truthfully, the thing that gets students in our office most often is the
free safer sex supplies. Though, most of our traffic is not from office
visits – we have much more contact with students outside the office through
our outreach programs and such. I also answer a large number of phone and
email questions from student each week as well.
Q: What are a few examples of the non-credit classes you offer and where is
this information available?
A: WesWELL started offering yoga classes to students sometime in the 1990s,
long before my arrival. We continue to offer yoga, along with meditation,
tai chi, kung fu, and our most recent addition, cardio kickboxing. About 125
to 150 people enroll each semester. All the details can be found on the
WesWELL website at www.wesleyan.edu/weswell. Online registration runs in the
early weeks of each semester.
Q: What is the Student Health Advisory Committee and what is your
involvement with them?
A: SHAC is a committee of students who help advise Health Services, and my
office to a lesser extent, on what are current issues of concern amongst
students and how we can better serve those needs. It is co-chaired by Joyce
Walter, director of Health Services, and Jeff Walker, a student. I sit on
the committee and assist the group in the outreach efforts they create to
educate the student body on available services and health issues.
Q: What are a few recent examples of WesWELL-coordinated events?
A: The Sexual Health Expo is ours. It was the brainchild of Joshua Pavlacky,
one of my Peer Health Advocates. He envisioned a fun, safe, educational
environment where students could learn about all aspects of sexual health
and I think we’ve been fairly successful in creating that. Other than that,
we don’t have too many recurring events since the health needs of students
change continually. We typically collaborate with Health Services and
Behavioral Health to offer a series of discussions and workshops throughout
the year. An example is a recent presentation by Davis Smith, our medical
director, on the new HPV vaccine and changes to the availability of
emergency contraception. We also have collaborated with Aramark the last
couple years on a multi-part “Feed Your Brain” series on healthy eating and
cooking to help students eat better.
Q: What are your degrees in and from where?
A: I earned my B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Eau
Claire and my M.S. in Education – College Student Development from the
University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse. That’s not what most people
would consider a very traditional path into college health education, but
it’s worked for me!
Q: You’ve spoken at numerous colleges and conferences including Connecticut
College, Trinity College and University of Connecticut with a program titled
“Coming Out of the Fridge.” Please explain what this program is about.
A: I started speaking about my experience with compulsive eating about four
years ago, partly to educate about this less-talked-about eating disorder
but also to help myself in my ongoing recovery and healing. I use my
personal experience to illustrate the facts about this disorder. I get a
great deal of satisfaction from public speaking and having the chance to
impact the audience with my words and experiences. I’m realistic enough to
know it may not be life-altering hearing me speak, but it might be what
encourages someone to get help for themselves or someone they love.
Q: What are your personal goals as a health educator working with college
A: I often say to students “I want to help you put the tools in your toolbox
that you need to be healthier.” So to me, health education is all about
skills development and knowledge building. It’s also about helping students
learn how to critically examine their choices around their health and
striving to make choices that will help them succeed at a higher level both
inside and outside the classroom.
anyone has a question about WesWELL, how do they get in contact with the
A: WesWELL is located on the second floor of the Davison Health Center at
327 High Street. Students can stop by Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm or
evenings by request. They can also contact me at 860-685-2466 or e-mail
email@example.com. Our web site is
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection