Jenna Bothell began her career in campus recreation at Sam Houston State University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Exercise Science. She began as a fitness instructor, quickly moved up to fitness supervisor, and ended her career at SHSU as the fitness intern. During her time at SHSU, Jenna developed a passion for student development and creating relationships with the entire college community. Jenna attended two annual NIRSA conferences, one regional conference, four TexFit conferences, and earned the William N. Wasson Student Leadership and Academic Award; however, the most satisfying of all were the connections she developed along the way. Jenna is now the Fitness Services Graduate Assistant at the Student Recreation Center at Western Illinois University and pursuing her master’s in recreation, parks, and tourism administration.
Please provide a statement of your personal views on the role and contributions of collegiate recreation in higher education. In your response describe how collegiate recreation has influenced your development.
Collegiate recreation has a direct influence on not only the students that participate in the programs provided but also on recruitment and retention of students at the university. A recreation facility is a direct influencing factor on how students select the university in which they want to attend for their four-year experience. Along with recruitment and retention, mental health is the other area I believe to be greatly impacted by recreation centers. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I can honestly say that attending events hosted by the recreation center, attending group fitness classes, and just working out in the weight room reduces my stress levels immensely. Recreation centers have the opportunity to make a huge impact on peoples lives through a multitude of ways and that is just one of the many reasons why I love working in this field.
Within the context of the NIRSA Strategic Plan, what area/item would you say is a major issue students face today? Please identify a student driven issue that we currently face today and you would like to address during your term. How will you create solutions in your role on the Student Leadership Team to address it?
In my opinion, mental health is one of the largest struggles college students face today. College culture is fast-paced, urgent, and very stressful, causing these students to suffer mentally. With the stresses that academics put on students as well as the pressures to fit in, it is no wonder that depression and anxiety are on the rise in these groups. Although there can be no complete solution for this mental health crisis, we can still provide resources and support for these students that could possibly prevent or help to recover some of these mental health issues. As professionals within campus recreation, we can have an incredible impact on these students’ mental health by: 1) Providing information on the benefits of exercise and recreation on mental health, 2) Provide programs that cater to students who suffer from mental illness and 3) Collaborate with on-campus resources such as the counseling center to advocate the recreation center and its healing benefits. All in all, I believe we, as college administrators, can do more to help these students that suffer; we should be protecting and supporting them throughout their struggle and recovery with mental illness.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA (i.e. presentations, volunteering, previous leadership roles, etc,), identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to advocate for and serve the students of the Association.
I have attended the Annual NIRSA Conference in Denver and Boston as well as the Region IV Student Lead On in College Station, Texas. Although I did not work or volunteer at these conferences, I was able to dive into the programs and events that were held there. These conferences have completely changed my professional career as well as my perspective on campus recreation. The sessions I have attended and the people I have met have shot me further than I could have imagined and I will always be thankful for NIRSA. I believe my attendance at these conferences would make me more prepared to be a region leader through the skills I learned there and the people I met. Throughout my career in campus recreation, I intend on attending any and all NIRSA conferences I can!
As a Student Leader within NIRSA, you have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of collegiate recreation. With a focus on Student Member Recruitment & Retention, and Student Development what skills, talents, and perspectives would you bring to the Student Leadership Team?
Working with people has always been my dream job. If I could interact with different people every day, all day, I would be completely happy. Thankfully, I found campus recreation where not only do I get to work with people every day, but I also have the opportunity to make an impact on them and help with everyday issues like mental health. I believe I would bring a lot of relationship development, empathy, and active listening skills. I believe I hold a much different perspective than most people because I grew up being taught the meaning of other people’s feelings, words, and actions and I will always respect that in others.