Wellness Ambassador encourages healthy campus collaboration

Jahaira+Bustos%2C+freshman+in+AHS%2C+wears+a+face+mask+outside.+Bustos+became+a+wellness+ambassador+earlier+this+year.

Photo Courtesy of Jahaira Bustos

Jahaira Bustos, freshman in AHS, wears a face mask outside. Bustos became a wellness ambassador earlier this year.

By Elizabeth Sayasane, Features Editor

Jahaira Bustos, freshman in AHS, started working as a wellness ambassador at the beginning of the school year. In this position, Bustos is responsible for reinforcing, educating and encouraging others to participate in safe and healthy practices.

This group works by distributing goodie bags containing masks and hand sanitizers and little sunglasses around the Main Quad or the Ikenberry Commons. When they saw students walking around without masks or not staying socially distances, they would make sure the students were aware of their actions and ask them to use preventive behaviors.

“We just want to carry out the rest of the year successfully,” Bustos said. “Just by us going around, you know, passing around small things like hand sanitizers (and) masks will make that a lot more effective, so that’s what our job is.”

Typically, the wellness ambassadors will work two hour shifts a couple times a week. Depending on the group working together, they decide what part of campus they would like to target. Some of the more popular spots include freshmen buildings like the Ike.

Being in this position has greatly affected Bustos’s first year on campus. She said that it has even opened her eyes to potential future careers. She had never experienced working in public affairs before, but now says she is looking more into it.

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The communication she has been able to have with the rest of the school has also been encouraging for a freshman coming in without having already made strong campus connections. The colleagues she works with come from a wide variety of majors and hometowns, all participating in different RSOs and other campus extracurriculars. Meeting them has helped widen her perspective of campus.

“It makes this campus feel so much more smaller,” she said. “It’s such a big school and communicating with people who are just passing by, it just makes me feel a little bit more at home.”

As far as those who she connects with while working, it has been more of a mixed bag. Many students she approaches with reminders to wear masks give her simple excuses. They’ll say they have their mask in their pocket or they left it at home. Sometimes people do not acknowledge her and her coworkers at all and just walk past. Others have been more receptive.

“There are other people who are very very appreciative of the work that we do and it feels good to know that we’re being acknowledged,” Bustos said. “It feels nice to know that we get that thank you every once in a while.”

Bustos said the constant talk from upperclassmen about how campus is dead and not at all like it usually is has been disheartening. The experience is made better by her roommate as well as other students in her residence hall who all communicate with each other.

In general, Bustos said she tries to keep her head up as she goes through the transition onto campus.

“I try and stay positive,” she said. “I have so much time to experience college. Right now, I’m just focused on making sure that we’re still here, you know, that we’re not getting sent home.”

Bustos said she does think that her experience as a new student trying to adjust to all of these new changes has helped her as a wellness ambassador. She is better able to communicate with the audience because she can relate to their experiences.

While she understands that this is all new to the faculty and school leadership as well, she finds that communication between students works best. One student sharing these health messages with another student is more effective than Mass Mails.

“I feel the work that we do is valuable because the message is coming from the students, the message is coming from someone who understands what it feels like to be thrown in into the situation,” Bustos said.

She wants other students to know how important their choices are right now and how they affect the whole campus community.

“Your actions are making a difference, your actions are making an impact on everything,” she said. “I feel that’s definitely one thing a lot of students should understand, you know, it’s so minor putting on a mask or not wearing your mask, but it makes a difference.”

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