Washington, DC – On Thursday, May 17, 2018, Jefferson Community College was announced as a winner of the 2018 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award and recognized as one of the healthiest college campuses in the nation. The prestigious award celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence in prioritizing and promoting the health and well-being of their students. Jefferson is the only community college to receive the designation.
“At Jefferson, we are firm believers that healthy students build strong communities and enjoy brighter futures,” says Ty Stone, President. “Through its campus activities and events, community partnership and leadership, Jefferson’s Health and Wellness Center fulfills that mission each and every day.”
Students enrolled at schools that focus on campus health often find that the programs and services offered there are life changing. Miranda Santos was struggling significantly with nursing studies due to personal challenges when she visited the campus’ Health and Wellness Services.
“From the first day I walked into the office my counselor was always there with a listening ear, encouraging me, pushing me, and allowing me to see the bigger picture,” says Miranda. “I went through the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life and I came out stronger and wiser due to the support I received; because of Katy Troester-Trate and the Health and Wellness Center I am still here and pushing twice as hard.”
“The health and well-being of our students is the foundation by which they will be successful,” says Dr. Katy Troester-Trate, Interim Dean of Students and Program Director – Jefferson Community Schools. “As a community college, we have a responsibility to help our students meet their non-academic needs so that they are successful here on campus, and in our community as well. Here at Jefferson, we are fortunate enough to be to address food insecurity, transportation disadvantage, childcare inadequacies, as well as mental and physical health. The impact these services have on our students and our community is priceless.”
The Healthy Campus Award, now in its third year, involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements and interviews. Each applicant is assessed across eight criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of prominent researchers and health and higher education experts.
“Jefferson Community College stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” says Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award as part of its commitment to student wellness. “They are a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a holistic approach to student success through a campus culture of health, resiliency, and well-being.”
Jefferson Community College joins six other colleges and universities in receiving the Healthy Campus Award: University of South Florida, Arizona State University, University of South Carolina, Kent State University, Duke University, and University of Oregon.
This year’s recipients represent a range of campuses – from rural community colleges to major research universities – that operate within widely different contexts and challenges. Together they demonstrate how institutions of all types and sizes can create healthy communities that allow every student the opportunity to thrive and succeed.
The well-being of all students is a priority for Jefferson Community College and it shows. The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following innovative practices in particular:
- Triage System: in the Fall of 2017, the campus implemented a triage system in order to serve a greater number of walk-in appointments and make counseling more accessible for students. Counselors are also available to meet students in crisis wherever they may be on campus at the time. This reduces barriers for students who feel stigmatized going to the Health and Wellness Center for their first encounter with counseling staff. The Director of Counseling Services also provides 24-hour on call services to residential and commuter students who need counseling services after hours.
- Defining Health Broadly: The College has fully integrated physical and mental health services through the transition from the Health Office to a collaborative Health & Wellness Center (HWC). Comprehensive services are also housed in the HWC serving students of low socioeconomic status including: emergency transportation services, emergency childcare vouchers, on-campus food pantry, Watertown Vet Center clinical services, application assistance for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, and subsidized disability testing.
- Driven by Data: Through innovative software, Jefferson Community College captures data on age, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ status, socioeconomic status, and others to increase retention and persistence rates of at-risk students and populations. Results of their current multi-year study shows an increase in retention and persistence due to their wellness efforts.
The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of Peg’s Foundation.