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Graduate Student Support: Using Wellness Programming to Promote Connection, Community, and Sense of Belonging

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Graduate Study Programs Supporting Diversity and Underrepresented Minority Students - Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Beth A. Bucher MSW Ohio State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Program

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Beth Bucher, MSW, Graduate Program Coordinator, Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, The Ohio State University.

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Community and sense of belonging are commonly accepted as the biggest predictors of academic success in higher education. Additionally, student distress, accidental death from risky behavior, and suicide can be combatted primarily through connections, according to the University’s Suicide Prevention Program. This is the largest graduate engineering program at the University with a high proportion being international students. It is easy for students to become isolated in their work.

In an effort to create a wellness culture, community, connection, and sense of belonging, a wellness initiative was begun in this graduate program. The topic of this paper is a description of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the first attempts of the initiative. Some of the components include small group leadership of new students, Get Launched for Success Workshop Series, weekly email outreach spotlighting University resources, suicide prevention anonymous email survey, Group Wellness Coaching, collaboration with IEEE Graduate Student Body officers, student interest survey, Fall Social, and “Surviving the Holidays” workshop.

Approval was gained from department faculty leadership to create a wellness culture. The department chair was approached for approval of a budget for food for events for the autumn semester. Faculty that had experienced a student’s accidental death just months prior to the initiative were approached about recommending their advisees participate in Group Wellness Coaching with the objective of creating community and connection.

In order to be intentional, consultation regarding objectives, outcomes and evaluation was sought out. University resources utilized include the Office of Diversity, Student Wellness Center, Engineering and Career Services, University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Center for the Study of Student Life. It is the author’s hope that presenting the material will encourage other staff and faculty to collaborate across their campuses to meet the local needs in their areas.

Bucher, B. A. (2017, June), Graduate Student Support: Using Wellness Programming to Promote Connection, Community, and Sense of Belonging Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28419

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