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Angela facility dedication continues with wellness workshops, discussions

| Monday, March 26, 2018

Saint Mary’s dedication ceremony for the new Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex continued Saturday with a variety of workout classes, concurrent sessions, speeches and panels revolving around health and wellness.

Director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek, who helped plan the ceremony, said she feels proud of the new building.

“This facility is such an inviting place,” she said. “Here on this campus, I feel that the impact is in how it will build community. We have students, faculty and staff and alumnae working out here, meeting here, eating here, cheering on the Belles here. [It’s] just a great blend of people using this space.”

Throughout the weekend, the College held myriad workshops and other events about fitness for the community.

“Rather than have this dedication event in one night, our desire to thank the donors, celebrate the space with wellness programming and bring in prospective students to celebrate with us required a multiple day event,” Schroeder-Biek said.

The closing keynote, titled “Striking the Right Balance — Keys for Powerful Living,” featured three College alumnae and was described as a “TED-style talk” by College President Jan Cervelli.

“No one arrives to this college or the real world fully formed,” Cervelli said. “Today’s event will address stretching, growing and being comfortable with setbacks to enable a growth mindset and find balance in our lives.”

One of the three speakers of the keynote, Kimberlyn Martin Troy, a ’00 alumna and fitness instructor at the College, spoke about wellness of the body and how her mom said she seemed more confident when she first went home for break during her time at Saint Mary’s.

“As students, we have a voice here,” Troy said. “It wasn’t Saint Mary’s teaching me to [be] powerful. I was realizing the power I already had.”

Everyone has natural balance and power inside of them, Troy said, and allowing yourself to be a beginner is a way for you to find that balance and power within yourself.

“There’s value in every single moment of every day,” she said. “Awareness is all the balance you need to live your most powerful life.”

Alumna Elizabeth Palmer, ’13, spoke about wellness of the spirit by reflecting on her time doing mission work in a Kenyan burn unit.

“A wise man once told me, ‘the best book you’ll ever read are human stories [and] the best libraries are hospitals,’” Palmer said.

A patient at the hospital named Dorcas could not see Palmer, but Palmer said they would share love by holding hands.

“We could not share verbal communication or eye contact, but our hands would always clasp together,” she said. “Dorcas showed me that God’s hand is always outstretched towards me.”

Encountering patients and her Saint Mary’s education was a transformative experience, Palmer said, since those experiences gave her the confidence to endure the hardship in the burn ward.

A grade school teacher and Saint Mary’s alumna who acted as a mentor during her parents’ divorce inspired her to attend the College, Palmer said. The influence strong women had on her life made the decision to attend Saint Mary’s natural, she said.

“I have been shaped by strong, independent women all along,” she said. “An integral part of my development has been to know God’s love. At Saint Mary’s, I constantly see the face of Christ of others.”

As a licensed clinical social worker,M.J. Murray Vachon, ’82, spoke at the keynote address about ‘Inner Challenge,’ her life skills and character development program. She said her clients and students often understand what mental illness is, but do not know how to define mental wellness.

“Mental wellness needs to be understood and cultivated,” she said. “One in six of us each year will suffer from symptoms of mental illness. Just like healthy eating prevents, manages and sometimes cures diabetes, mental wellness life skills prevents, manages and sometimes cures mental health issues.”

Murray Vachon said grounding one’s feet on the floor, taking deep breaths and noticing one particular thing in front of you can help one feel more connected to their body and surroundings.

“This exercise cultivates beauty,” she said. “Notice cultivates beauty. Notice cultivates gratitude.”

Mental wellness is key to becoming an authentic individual who can find their identity and balance within, Murray Vachon said.

“The whole [Angela] facility was built to consider our bodies, minds, and spirits,” she said. “We can show up, we can live and we can have lives that are balanced and rooted in power that is rooted in the spirit, not the ego.”

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