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Dominique Wakefield on Becoming “A Healthier U”

Name: Dominique Wakefield
Title: Director, University Health & Wellness
Interviewed by Jordanne Howell Walton

 

 

Within the last few years, Andrews University had made the collective health of the university a top priority, implementing strategies and programs to emphasize the importance of the health of the students, faculty and staff on campus, with the ultimate goal being to earn the title of healthiest university in the nation. We took some time to talk with Dominique Wakefield, Director of University Health & Wellness, to learn more about the plans being put into place to achieve this goal.

 

Currently Andrews University is striving to be the healthiest university in the nation. What are some changes University Health & Wellness have already made to move towards this goal?

Andrews University has dedicated a budget to University Health & Wellness; we have opened the Wellness Lounge in the Campus Center; we’ve implemented a customized online employee wellness platform for Andrews University employees and their spouses; we’ve instituted the AU Health & Wellness Council, consisting of students, faculty, staff and community members to review current policies and practices regarding health; and we have launched a key focus—MISSION: Fully Alive—to promote wellness transformation for each person on this campus.

 

What are some health “no-no’s” we can avoid in striving to be healthier?

I believe in balance; I am not a promoter of extremism. In general, however, it would be best to note the following:

  • 1. Don’t sit more than three hours per day and move a bit every 30 minutes.

  • 2. Don’t miss structured exercise: cardio, strength and flexibility should be worked into weekly routines.

  • 3. Don’t miss drinking 9-13 cups of water (or herbal teas) per day.

  • 4. Don’t drink sugary drinks.

  • 5. Don’t skip a healthy breakfast.

  • 6. Don’t miss the essential 7-8 hours of sleep.

  • 7. Don’t neglect your mental/emotional well-being.

  • 8. Don’t neglect your spiritual well-being.

 

 

How is Andrews University providing healthier options for students’ workspaces and classrooms?

This is a challenging question, but we have created a task-force that is evaluating this specific issue to create policies and an action plan to convert learning and work spaces into more active spaces. Thus far, some departments have started making transformations such as standing desks. When it comes to classrooms, the changes made have been up to each department as they renovate or renew classroom space. However, the taskforce is looking at a university-wide policies and a plan to make sure we focus on this issue.

 

Every year Andrews University hosts a 5k during Alumni Weekend. What other health events can students anticipate seeing on campus in the future?

For this semester we will be having the second Annual Health & Wellness Fest (on March 29 and 30). The Health & Wellness Fest will become a staple of health events on campus.

 

Finally, mental health plays a large role in physical health. During the winter, the sun seems to hide from Michigan and can sometimes result in seasonal depression. How can that effect the goal of being the healthiest university? What are some things that can be done in order to help with seasonal depression?

Yes, very true! I want to be careful here, because I am not a licensed mental health professional, but general recommendations are:

  • 1. If you feel like you might be experiencing seasonal depression, make an
    appointment at the Counseling & Testing Center to obtain a proper
    assessment of your situation.

  • 2. Regular physical activity and exercise is suggested as one aspect of assisting with better mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as a healthy diet and enough sleep.

  • 3. Foster positive and healthy relationships.

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