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UC Student Peer Educator Gains Experience Toward Her Future Career

Through her training at the UC Wellness Center, Ashley Townes provides expertise as well as a student perspective on health matters affecting students.

Date: 11/2/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Ashley Townes wants to dedicate her career to working with young people on the health concerns that affect today’s adolescents. She’s gaining that insight as a fifth-year health promotion and education major in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), as well as through her UC student job as one of seven specially-trained student peer educators for the UC Wellness Center.
Ashley Townes
Ashley Townes

The UC Wellness Center provides a variety of health and wellness services including programs for students, faculty, staff and the community. Programs and workshops include information on nutrition, stress management, smoking cessation, alcohol awareness, sexual health, fitness and body image. The center also holds a resource collection of journals, videos and CDs, and offers blood pressure screenings during business hours.

As a peer educator for the UC Wellness Center, Townes has presented on wellness issues to different classes across campus, UC’s Learning Communities for first-year students, residence hall programs and fraternity and sorority forums. As part of this outreach for the UC Wellness Center, Townes says her job “matches a student face with a student face,” opening conversations about issues that can be hard to talk about.

“We’re (the peer educators) upperclassmen as well as peers, so if someone is worried that a friend is abusing alcohol, for instance, I think it’s less intimidating if they come to us, rather than go to a faculty member or an RA. We’re qualified to give them certain referrals and share our own experiences about encountering situations as a student,” says the 22-year-old Townes, a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and a resident of Colerain Township.

Townes is entering her third year of working as a peer educator, which also includes developing outreach programs for the UC Wellness Center. She says she recently developed a student-focused program on minority health as well as a program for first-year students that includes everything from coping with homesickness to fighting the “freshman 15” weight gain.

Wellness Center
Erica Forrest, UC Wellness Center Program Manager, and Ashley Townes

Townes says she chose UC to pursue her education because she wanted to stay close to home. As she was considering college, her older brother, Courtney, had just been deployed to Iraq. She says she wanted to stay in a familiar place where she could still recognize familiar faces. Her brother is now stationed in Fayetteville, N.C. On her graduation in June, she says she too wants to head farther south for graduate study, where she says the younger populations are harder hit by health issues.

She says “everything has changed at UC” since her freshman year, including the school spirit and excitement on campus and a senior-year Homecoming that was “the best Homecoming experience I have ever had.”

Townes is also connected to her UC experience through UC’s student organizations. She’s vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Omicron chapter, vice president of inter-Greek affairs for the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a member of Friday Night Live and a member of the Eta Sigma Gamma professional honorary for her major and the Lambda Society honorary for women of color.

As part of her sorority’s service to the community, Townes says Alpha Kappa Alpha is joining the Girl Scouts of Southwestern Ohio and the Avondale Boys and Girls Club to develop a program to serve both organizations.

Townes is also coordinating an all-night UC retreat for women that will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 and end at 9 a.m. on Nov. 15. The lock-in will take place at the UC African American Cultural and Research Center and is sponsored by the Lambda Society. Topics to explore at the lock-in include discussion on inner and outer beauty.

“There is definitely a place to fit in at UC and there’s no reason to just come to school and go to class. You should definitely get involved,” she says. “People are friendly here.”


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