A day of fun can do wonders for an anxious college student

BY DONNA BOEN ’83, MTSC ’96, MIAMIAN EDITOR

Dee Kinney has a heart for regional campus students, who are often juggling family, work and finances and sometimes even struggling to put food on their tables.

That’s why Kinney, an assistant professor in Miami Regionals’ department of education and society, chairs the Regionals Health and Wellness Steering Committee. Established in the fall of 2017, the committee members started their efforts by conducting the National College Health Assessment Survey on the Regionals. The results confirmed four major findings that they already knew anecdotally.


“As a researcher, I want everything to be amazingly surprising. Like I want to be like … groundbreaking research, but the fact is, when I speak with administrators, and I speak with students, nobody’s surprised when they learn that stress, anxiety, sleep and depression, in that order, are the top four factors that have a negative impact on students’ academic performance.”

With that research in hand, Dr. Dee, as everyone calls her, set out to conduct face-to-face focus groups on the Regional campuses. She received a grant from the M.I.A.M.I. Women’s Giving Circle to fund the Café Conversations on Student Well-Being. Unfortunately, COVID-19 soon required her to forgo in-person meetings and instead opt for online Zoom discussions. During her focus group talks, she discovered that students on the Hamilton and Middletown campuses weren’t aware of all the resources available to them, such as free, confidential counseling.

And her second discovery?


“We also learned that they’re looking, and they’re craving, probably at least in part because of COVID, they’re really craving social engagement. They’re craving this campus life. They’re craving this idea of coming to campus and belonging and being engaged.”

That led the committee to launch the Wellness Warriors project to fund events that offer stress relief and social engagement – perhaps a relaxation room with a massage chair during finals and community meals for socializing.

To carry through with the project, they need money.

Because there is not a specific budget earmarked for health promotion, Kinney said, the committee is hoping to raise $1,500 through #MoveInMiami, the university’s annual day of giving held each year during move-in day. This year’s #MoveInMiami is Aug. 19 with a goal of 2,025 gifts in 20 hours and 25 minutes in honor of the Class of 2025. Contributions to the Regionals Wellness Warriors can be made at any time or as part of #MoveInMiami.

That modest amount may seem like it won’t do much, but Kinney sees things differently. Providing $100 to pay for food at a social tells students that others care about them and strengthens their sense of belonging, she said. Small act, big impact.

“Here’s the bottom line,” she said. “This helps students to be successful. So is it really about one day of fun? Is it about getting a free meal? No, ultimately, it is about successfully completing college to earn their degree because research shows, without argument, that people with a college degree, even an associate degree, live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.”

If you’d like more information about the Wellness Warriors project or would like to brainstorm ideas for the program, contact Dr. Dee Kinney at Kinneyda@MiamiOH.edu.


#MoveInMiami is a fun, fast-paced fundraising event on move-in day to welcome the incoming first-year class to Oxford. On Aug. 19, 2021, follow us throughout the day with live and pre-recorded content around campus and Uptown. Our goal is to raise 2,025 gifts in 20 hours and 25 minutes in honor of the Class of 2025 – no gift is too small! Learn about the projects you can support and donate now at MoveInMiami.org. Because sometimes the smallest act makes the biggest impact.

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