Andy Lehr, a graduate student in Western Illinois University’s College Student Personnel Program, is pictured here at the University Union in March, where he helped Beu Health Education with the implementation of Kick Butts Day, a national event sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The event increases awareness about the hazards of smoking and using tobacco.
As Spring 2013 Commencement Weekend commences at Western, many soon-to-be WIU alumni are looking toward the world of work that lie ahead. And while it may be daunting to go out into wilds of the job market (particularly in a still-recovering U.S. economy) with not-so-much work experience, many students–both undergraduate and graduate–have had the chance to gain experience working in some capacity for WIU. Andy Lehr is one of those students.
A graduate student in Western’s College Student Personnel program, Andy has been working for Beu Health Education this past semester. He will continue his post at Beu Health Ed in Fall 2013, too. (He also serves as the assistant complex director at Tanner Hall for WIU Housing and Dining Services.)
When I met Andy earlier this year, he was filled with positive energy and ideas about how to help Beu Health Education with its outreach efforts. Recently, he took some time out of his busy grad-student schedule to answer some questions about what he does for Beu and how the experience has helped him acquire skills that he’ll be able to use when he finishes his master’s program.
Q.) What do you do for Beu Health Education?
I am a practicum student for Beu Health Education. It is a requirement of the College Student Personnel master’s degree program that I am in here at Western. As a practicum student, I work for Beu Health Education for eight hours a week.
Q.) What kinds of duties/tasks do you do for Beu Health Education?
My main role is to manage the social media for the office. I work with Twitter and Facebook in order to help and send different health and wellness information out to the WIU community and anyone else that wants to follow Beu Health Ed. I have also assisted in the facilitation of the training for the certified peer education program, Students T.A.L.K., that Beu Health Education offers. In addition to those things, I also sit in on a variety of meetings (such as the weekly update meetings for the AOD [Alcohol and Other Drug] Center and Beu Health Education).
Q.) How do you use social media to help disseminate info. to students at WIU?
I use social media to get quick health and wellness facts out to all of those that follow us on Twitter and Facebook. I try to focus on one certain topic each week and then Tweet four or five facts and tips a day about the topic. The topics usually align with “Stall Talk,” which are put out weekly by Liz Andrews, the Beu Health Education graduate assistant.
Through the Beu Health Ed Twitter account, I also follow many other health and wellness sites that offer quality information, and I will often retweet that information out to the WIU community. I have also found that using social media to promote different events happening on campus, (Beu Health Ed related events or general campus events) is a great way to help get the word out and support other departments across the WIU campus.
Q.) What are some of the most rewarding/informative experiences you’ve had in your work for Beu Health Education?
So far, the most rewarding thing has been getting to work in a department outside of what I have been used to. Most of my previous work has been focused on residence life, and it has been very exciting for me have this new experience. Getting to work with Liz Andrews, JoAnn Hairston-Jones [Beu Health Education Coordinator], and everyone else that I have been able to work with, has been a really great experience. I enjoy being able to build new relationships and meeting new people, and without this practicum opportunity, I probably would not have had the opportunity to meet the great people who work in Beu Health Education.
Along with social media, I have come across a lot of other useful information because of working with Beu Health Education. Beu’s Health Education Office promotes the health and wellness of students here at WIU in many different ways. As a student, I try to take advantage of some of the services that are offered. For example, there is a stress-management technique called “Freeze-Frame,” which is used here, and I have been able to use that myself to try and help manage my own stress. Also, while doing research to find information that I want to tweet about, I have been able to increase my knowledge on the different aspects of wellness.
It has been a great experience for me to work for an office that focuses on health and wellness, because I feel everything that I work on I can relate to my own life in some way. I mean, I’m sure that a lot of people talk about stress, health, and wellness in their daily conversations with their co-workers, but I don’t know how many other opportunities exist where the goal of the office is to promote different health and wellness techniques and information. I’m really grateful to have been given this opportunity, and I enjoy the hours that I am able to come into the office each week to work.
Q). How do you think your work for/with Beu Health Education will help you in your future career?
First, I feel as though working with social media will turn out to be an important experience. We are living in a world today where the many different types of social media play an important role in our lives. People seem to be attached to their phones, constantly checking for Facebook and Twitter updates. While some may view this as a negative aspect–given that it seems as though there can be a dependence on technology at times–it is also a great opportunity to do a lot of good. If there are good messages that can be sent out through different outlets of social media, it is important to be using those in the right way.
I think the experiences I have had so far this semester have taught me some of the tools necessary to know how to use social media for good reasons. To have an understanding of social media and how to use it effectively, I think could be very important for me moving forward in whatever it is that I do.
Q). What are your future career plans?
Even though I am working toward my master’s degree in Western’s College Student Personnel program, I am still not sure what my future career plans really are. I decided to pursue this degree because I love working with others and especially because of the opportunity to be able to work on a college campus. College just seems to be such a fun and unique environment to be in, so I can see myself continuing to work in some capacity in student affairs. I’m not sure where I will end up after completing my master’s program here, but I know I want to be working with others in a position where I am able to make a positive impact on others’ lives.
Q). Anything else you think should be included/highlighted I didn’t ask you about?
I would just like to share that there are so many great opportunities and services offered here in Beu Health Education. I hope that students continue to utilize the different resources offered from this office. I wasn’t very aware of Beu Health Education before I became a practicum student here, but after working and seeing everything that goes on here, I now know there are some great services and resources that are beneficial to the WIU community. There are different outreach programs and presentations throughout the year, which are often conducted and implemented by student leaders from Beu Health Ed, and then there are also individual consultations available to help handle concerns, such as sleep management and tobacco cessation.
I encourage everyone to check out the office to see if there are any services provided that may be beneficial, even if only in a small way, to their daily health and well-being. Other than that, just make sure to follow us on Twitter @BeuHealthEd! And thank you very much for taking the time to let me share my experiences!