Clifford awarded NASPA’s outstanding new professional award for work around health and wellness
Connelly Clifford, office and student wellness coordinator for the Center for Student Development, was recently awarded the 2020-2021 Wellness and Health Promotion of KC (Knowledge to the Community) Outstanding New Professional Award by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
This health and wellness award from NASPA recognizes individuals, programs and research that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of wellness and health education in higher education and student affairs. In order to qualify for this award, a person must be in the profession less than three years, they must be actively promoting health and wellness opportunities at their campus, and they must be a member of NASPA.
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“I’m so honored to be awarded this,” said Clifford. “While it’s always been important, I think that mental health and wellness is really up and coming within higher education. Universities today are really starting to be aware of the importance of these topics in their communities.”
Clifford, who recently became the region one NASPA wellness and health promotion KC representative, was surprised to learn she’d received the award — but her work on campus to promote health and wellness had been noted by other staff members at Salve Regina, who nominated her for the award.
“Connelly’s passion and advocacy for health and wellness has been apparent through all her actions since day one,” said one nomination letter. “She quickly became known as a staff member on campus who was knowledgeable in health and wellness and started to be contacted by students, staff and faculty on this. These actions and many more led to her promotion to Salve’s student wellness coordinator. Salve has never had a wellness coordinator before, and Connelly has set the bar high.”
Clifford joined Salve Regina’s staff at the Center for Student Development in 2018 because she wanted to get into student affairs while completing her master’s in holistic and clinical mental health counseling at the University. While working at Salve Regina, she noticed a gap in terms of educating the community on the topic of health and wellness.
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In 2020, Clifford built up the peer wellness educators initiative within student leadership positions on campus. She currently has 17 students who are peer wellness educators, and these students help bring about trainings and programs across campus to promote topics such as anxiety and depression, alcohol and drugs, time management and more. Throughout the year, they hope to bring about 30, student-run mental health and wellness initiatives to campus.
Additionally, Clifford helped start the Salve Wellness Instagram, which now has over 1,000 followers. The account helps educate the student population about health and wellness through social media, and students play an active role in making the content for it.
All in all, Clifford is excited about the work that will continue to be done at Salve Regina around health and wellness. “I’m truly honored and grateful that I have colleagues who recognize my work, and that I can step into a role to help assist students to speak out and also raise awareness of these topics,” she concluded.