HTH100 students present at GenEd Student Conference

College of Health and Behavioral Studies

By: Morgan Vuknic
Creative Services Student Writer

HTH100 Conference Presenters

Every fall semester during family weekend, JMU holds a General Education Student Conference showcasing student excellence in liberal studies courses. This year for HTH 100: Personal Wellness, sophomores N’Deye Sock, Kaitlyn Marro and Renee St. John, who are majoring in media arts and design and communications, economics and psychology respectively, were nominated.

They were nominated by Health Sciences professor, Debra Sutton from her spring 2022 class to present research on a topic of their choosing related to health and wellness in college students. The HTH 100 panel was titled “Current Issues Affecting the Health and Wellness of College Students,” with Sock presenting on how to maintain a healthy diet, Marro on the benefits of exercise and St. John on how mental health affects academic achievement.   

Gened Annual Conference ButtonSt. John said that mental health is something that college students often struggle with, so she wanted to bring awareness to certain symptoms as well as resources JMU offers. She said she began her research through looking for sources on mental health that gave good information but weren’t too overwhelming.  

“This topic is something that’s personally important to me and as a freshman last year with so many mental health crises on campus, I thought it was especially important to talk about,” St. John said. “I had heard about the conference before from friends and other classes so I was excited to present because I knew it would be a great opportunity for me.”    

Although Sock, Marro and St. John said they may not go into a health-related field; they agree that presenting at the general education conference helped them develop professionally through giving them public speaking experience and knowledge on how to give an informational presentation.   

For St. John, she said she’s a nervous presenter so, while she was excited to present at the conference, she was still anxious to show her research to attendees. Even though she was nervous, St. John said that presenting her research was a great experience and will hopefully help her become more confident in future presentations.    

“I know presentations are never going to stop,” St. John said. “So, the more I have real life practice the more I’ll be ready even for small presentations. I also think it’s good to get in the habit of making your presentations look nice and learning a base level of professionalism.”  

Since she was the moderator of the presentations, Sutton said she tried to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the students through telling them what to expect and by giving them tips on presenting in front of a crowd. She said this is not an opportunity that many undergraduate students get and she was very impressed with Sock, Marro and St. John’s presentations.   

“It’s so wonderful for them to have this opportunity so early on in their college careers,” Sutton said. “Most of my students are freshmen or sophomores so they’re inexperienced with public speaking but presenting gives them such confidence because they do so well.”    

Along with developing professionally, Sock, Marro and St. John said that their topics are all personal interests of theirs. For Sock, she said she enjoys cooking her own food and maintaining a healthy diet so she wanted to be able to share what she knows with others.    

Sock said she wanted to teach others how to eat healthy but she also wanted to educate about the negative body stereotypes that are often common on college campuses.  

“It’s totally fine if you want to try everything on campus, but you have to do it in moderation - that’s what I’m trying to preach,” Sock said. “Having that healthy diet can help you in so many ways from making it easier to walk around campus to having more energy to focus in class. Also in college, negative body image standards are everywhere. But you still have to eat a healthy number of meals. Everyone’s body is different so it’s better to focus on your own health.”   

Marro said that diet is important to having a healthy lifestyle but her presentation mainly focused on exercise. She said it’s important for everyone to know about exercise because it’s a valuable topic to know about, regardless of what field you’re going into.    

“Even though I most likely won’t go into a health-related field, it’s important for everybody to keep themselves healthy,” Marro said. “I think exercising more, knowing how to reduce the risks of certain diseases, and taking care of your body is important in any profession.”   

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Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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