In this month’s episode, “Top Health and Wellness Tips for College Students,” Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president of Vaughn College and host of the podcast Futureproof Focus, sat down with her colleagues, Dr. Stacey Dutil, director of counseling and wellness, and Omari Wright, athletics Coordinator, for a candid discussion about the mental health of today’s college students and how Vaughn is helping its students stay well, both mentally and physically.

Students’ outlook is looking up

Despite the ongoing mental health and wellness issues reported by students across college campuses, both Dr. Dutil and Wright agree they are seeing an improvement at Vaughn, post-pandemic. “Vaughn students are resilient,” said Dutil. “There’s less stigma surrounding mental health today, as students are more open to talk about it.” And when it comes to diversity, Vaughn has a unique population of students which sets it apart from other college campuses. From first-generation college students and veterans to single parents and those juggling full-time jobs, Vaughn students have their own set of challenges to cope with. “Overall, (post-pandemic) we’re seeing our students’ ability to be more social, and that has a huge impact on their mental health.,” Dr. Dutil said.

What is “imposter syndrome?”

Dr. DeVivo raises the question about “imposter syndrome” as a real challenge that students are facing. This is especially for students who are entering fields dominated by those different from themselves. Thoughts such as, ‘I don’t belong here,’ or ‘You have to see it to be it,’ are sparking conversation to do a better job at demonstrating that everyone is credible and qualified. Fields such as engineering and technology, for example, are male dominated—and predominantly white. For students who don’t fit this profile—but have passion for the field—Dr. Dutil said it’s important to encourage them to build a supportive network through mentorships and clubs and societies with people who look like them and who understand their experience. “It makes a huge difference,” Dr. Dutil said.

Athletic Coordinator Wright weighed in on the topic with a unique angle. “I use athletics to teach life,” said Wright. “It’s about teamwork and working with people from different backgrounds. You have to grow through it and create a community of encouragement and positive energy to find purpose and a sense of belonging with people who look like you.”

How Vaughn is helping students

As Director of Counseling and Wellness at Vaughn for the past four years, Dr. Dutil said helping students of diverse cultures is all about speaking a universal language. “You have to meet people where they are,” she said. “It’s all about building a rapport and having a conversation. When you sit them down, their fear and shame go away.” Here are some of the ways the counseling and wellness department helps Vaughn students:

  • Food pantry: Meet the basic needs of students without any barriers.
  • Case management: Help students with issues such as housing and benefits.
  • Wellness committee: Colleagues collaborate to identify students who have challenges and take a holistic approach to helping them.
  • Residence life: Work with students who may be under distress about being away from home.
  • Guest speakers: Book guest speakers who address wellness and mental health issues.
  • Wellness challenge: Organize fun events to keep students engaged.

From a sports perspective, Wright organized several programs to keep students physically and mentally fit. Here are some of the ways he accomplishes this:

  • Virtual world wellness programs: Organizing boot camps and yoga sessions (women only) to help students with self-expression.
  • Recreational programs: E-sports is a popular platform where students can find areas where they fit in to explore their own talents.

Women’s Warrior Program

Created by Wright, this program was inspired by his mother, who raised him and his three siblings as a single parent. “I wanted to create a stronger infrastructure around women—a community outside of athletics,” he said. It’s based around the notion that: “There’s nothing I can’t do if given the opportunity to do so.” Wright believes: “If you want to go fast through life, then you go by yourself, but if you want to go far in life, then you go with a team.” Here are the highlights and goals of the Women’s Warrior Program for the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Galvanize school spirit: Help different departments create a buzz and awareness of campus events.
  • Get experience and work in different departments: Get your foot in the door and gain experience to include on your résumé.
  • Community service: Get Vaughn’s name out in the community and surround people with positivity. Helps students become well-rounded and gain experience to put on their résumés.

Wellness tips for students

As the fall semester kicks off, Dr. Dutil and Wright are excited to share some of their best wellness tips to prepare students for a great school year ahead.

Dr. Dutil: Be proactive about your mental health and wellness.

  • Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis. Come see us early and get to know us and our services.
  • Have a contingency plan—Preparing for Plan B is always a good idea. You never want to take for granted how things will turn out. Having a contingency plan can help reduce stress and get you to refocus.

Wright: Success is a planned event.

  • Networking can help you find where you belong.
  • Staying active every day helps with your mental and physical well-being. Setting small goals leads to large victories.

Dr. DeVivo concluded the conversation with a tip of her own: “Believe in yourself. You’re way more resilient than you think you are.”

You can watch the podcast in its entirety here.

Read more about how to stay mentally healthy in college here. Feeling a little stressed? Read about how to find your balance here.

Careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are among the top choices of Generation Z (Gen Z) students, according to the 2022 Career Interest Survey, which was conducted earlier this year by The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). Read on to learn the factors that are driving these high-achieving students to pursue careers in these in-demand industries and how Vaughn College has the degree programs and partnerships to get them there.

Who are Gen Zs?

Members of Generation Z are individuals who were born after 1997. They are considered the most diverse American generation and are larger than any preceding age group. At more than 90 million members, the oldest Gen Z members are 25 years old. So, why is this generation choosing STEM fields as their top career choices? Let’s find out.

Why are Gen Zs choosing STEM careers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand in STEM fields is projected to grow by 10.5 percent over the next eight years. The survey revealed how students are shifting their focus from degrees in education, the arts and legal studies and opting to major in fields where they can make an impact on the economy and the world—such as in STEM-related jobs and healthcare. Another finding revealed that not only is the STEM field the number one career choice among respondents, but it continues to grow particularly among female and black students. Careers in these in-demand fields bring job security, high-paying salaries and room for advancement, thus making the degrees more appealing.

Check out our blog, “Engineering Ranked Among Most Valuable College Majors,” to learn why engineering and STEM-related majors top the list as being among the most valuable degrees.

What factors matter most

The survey revealed the goals, preferences and attitudes of high achieving high school and college-aged individuals, as well as their feelings toward employment and career aspirations. As stated earlier, the diverse nature of members of Gen Z places them in a unique category where equity for all is a priority. In fact, more than one-fifth (22 percent) of respondents said their own experiences with racial inequality influenced their career choices, and one-third fluently speak a language other than English. Here are some of the factors that matter most to the Gen Z group when looking for their first full-time job is concerned:

Professional growth
  • Provide in-person training
  • Opportunity to learn skills for the purpose of career advancement
  • Pathway to promotion
  • Professional development opportunities
Personal preferences
  • Reflect and respect diversity
  • Fair treatment of all employees across all genders and races
  • Offer employer flexibility
  • Display corporate social responsibility
  • Have a boss who is like a mentor
  • Upper management must have good communication skills

Listen to our latest podcast featuring Vaughn alumna Kirei Watson ’18 (mechanical engineering major) and how she broke down barriers to land and excel in her job as a rotational program engineer at Collins Aerospace.

How can a Vaughn degree get you there?

Another key takeaway from the survey is the discovery of the love of learning among the Gen Z group—especially when it comes to hands-on training. At Vaughn College, our degree programs in engineering and technology, computer engineering and aviation offer students the best of both worlds: Lecture instructions by professors with real-world experience and hands-on instruction where students put what they’ve learned to work. In fact, the rapid advancements in technology are making these degrees some of the most sought-after by today’s college-bound students. And were you aware that aviation degrees can fall under a STEM-related focus in some instances? Today’s staffing shortage crisis in the aviation industry is increasing the demand for jobs across the board.

Check out our blog, “Virtual and Augmented Reality Shape the Future of the Aviation Industry,” to learn how immersive technologies are a billion-dollar gamechanger in the aviation market.

Vaughn provides invaluable industry connections and experiences

Vaughn is committed to the success of its students. By providing invaluable programs like Employer Engagement Days, Open House and Info. Session events, career fairs, speaker series and our Computer Engineering Summer Boot Camp, Vaughn goes above and beyond to ensure that its students have the opportunities and access to industry leaders who are ready to hire. Here are some industry giants, federal agencies and airports that actively recruit Vaughn students:

  • Atlas Air
  • Boeing
  • Cyient
  • Delta
  • Endeavor Air
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Jet Blue Airways
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • LaGuardia Gateway Partners
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Metro-North Railroad
  • NASA
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Pratt & Whitney
  • SpaceX
  • Sikorsky
  • Textron Aviation
  • United Airlines
  • Volvo

What is NSHSS?

The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) is an acclaimed academic honor society which recognizes and serves high achieving student scholars in more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries. These academically outstanding students represent the most promising diverse talent for the emerging workforce and their communities.

About the survey

The survey revealed the opinions and insights of over 11,000 of the highest achieving high school students, college students and recent college graduates who represent Gen Z in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. military bases overseas and U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Are you ready to be a part of the next generation of professionals in the emerging STEM-related industry? A degree from Vaughn can make your dream a reality. Apply today!