Rose Hill Dean’s Office Hosts New Event Series on Wellbeing

Dean Annunziato hosts FCRH Wellbeing Evening. (Courtesy of Fordham News)

Dean Annunziato hosts FCRH Wellbeing Evening. (Courtesy of Fordham News)

Sebastian Diaz, Features Editor

On Tuesday, March 29, the Rose Hill Dean’s Office held an event titled FCRH Wellbeing Evening. Hosted by FCRH Dean Rachel Annunziato, this event was the first in a new series of events focused on mental health and student wellbeing designed to help students de-stress. As the email announcement from the Dean’s Office reads, “we’ll eat good food, consider how mental health is portrayed in the media and most of all just have some time together to give our minds a break and talk about how we stay well.”

Dean Maura Mast also aided Anunziato in the organization of the event. The two deans spoke to The Fordham Ram to give insights about why they believe the series is important to the Fordham community, what they hope students will take away from the events and where they plan for the series to go in the future.Dean Mast explained the importance of the events: “Students are asking for wellness programming. I’ve seen this in conversations with student leadership groups and through surveys we’ve conducted in fall 2021 and spring 2020.”

Annunziato cited the “Fall 2021 Academic Experiences Survey”:
“We are incredibly thankful for having such a large number of responses and they provided incredibly important guidance for us. We were struck by the key finding that aspects of wellbeing were so salient even on an academically-focused survey and we were eager to act upon what we learned to offer more support for our students.”

According to Mast, approximately 54% of student responses to that survey called for a greater number of wellness-focused events and activities.

Mast also said: “Wellness is important for everyone. Our hope is that by offering this series, students will take time to take care of themselves.”

The creation of the series was partially inspired by the values built into Fordham University’s Jesuit traditions.

Specifically, the wellbeing events are focused on helping foster the practice of reflection within a community and its members, as described by Jesuit goals.

“This habit of reflection can take many forms, including self-reflection,” said Mast. “Wellness events can promote and support reflection, helping students slow down from the busy pace and take care of their own needs. Sometimes we don’t realize what we need until we take the time to reflect on it.”
To comment further on the “busy pace” and the effects that a stressful life can have on students, Annunziato expanded on the ideas Mast set forth by saying that:
“During these challenging times when our different roles and responsibilities can be overwhelming, coupled with the exhaustion of coping with many unremitting stressors, it’s hard to stop and take care of ourselves. There are so many wonderful ways to cultivate wellness and we hope that holding events centered on it will give more students access to such tools.”

The focus of these events is on the students, and both deans hope that students will be able to walk away from the events with a greater sense of reflection and health.

“I have so many hopes for this,” Annunziato said. “I hope that we are offering opportunities to share and practice tried and true strategies for coping with stress. We know that social support is so important for our wellbeing and I hope these events facilitate this and create new connections. More than anything, I hope our students know how much we deeply care for them and we aspire to do all that we can for them to thrive.”

Mast hopes “that students will benefit from the events and learn a few new approaches to mindfulness and wellness.” She also hopes that students “know that we care about them and want to support them. The FCRH Dean’s Office is here for all students and we are excited to work with them on planning future events.”

For its next few events, the Dean’s Office will partner with Campus Ministry. For example, Father Jose-Luis “Lito” Salazar, S.J. will be hosting a wellness event in which students can travel to the Botanical Gardens and practice an examen, or a prayer-like reflection. Additionally, Father David Marcotte, S.J., will be leading a meditation session for students.

Other events coming out of the series include a “How to Stay Motivated Panel” that are organized by Annunziato.

“Before joining the dean’s office, my career as a psychologist was devoted to supporting young adults during health care transitions,” Annunziato said. “Now, I am so excited to take those experiences and hopefully apply them in a way that helps our students during such challenging times. I also love spending time with our students. Your presence inspires us every day and I enjoy these events and the chance to be with our students so much.”