Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Health & Wellness interns are working hard to help their peers be well at UNH. Internships cover a variety of public health topics and may include research, event planning, outreach and even marketing skills. Here’s a spotlight on two of this year’s interns.

Eliza Chekas ’18, public health intern

UNH public health intern Eliza Chekas

Eliza Chekas ’18 has been hard at work on a research project. The topic: developing mindfulness in kinesiology students through different meditation practices during finals.

“I decided to do my research topic around mindfulness because I believe it is one of the secrets to living a happy and successful life. Taking the time to observe your thoughts and be realistic with yourself is so important in making any day-to-day decision,” Chekas says. “It will save you time, assist in concentration and re-focus your attention if your mind tends to wander.”

To better understand what mindfulness is, Chekas took part in a mindfulness meditation session. She also interviewed Ruth Abelmann, director of residential life, and Ted Kirkpatrick, dean of students, both of whom are working to bring mindfulness awareness to students.

“I am doing the work I am doing because I want to show people that this stuff really works,” Chekas adds. “Mindfulness is a muscle that must be strengthened through practice. The more you practice, the easier it will be to achieve its benefits — quicker and stronger focus, attention and relaxation, to name a few.”

At the end of the fall 2017 semester, Chekas held sessions with students to teach them mindfulness practices and assess through surveys what they took away from the teachings and whether their anxiety surrounding finals decreased.

“The most rewarding thing about this internship is that I have been able to personally benefit and learn from this experience,” Chekas says. “Although I will be employing the practice to educate others on what I know, I have learned the importance of how just taking a breath can go a long way.”

Mackenzie Wirtz ’19, stress management intern

UNH stress management intern Mackenzie Wirtz

Mackenzie Wirtz ’19 has put a lot of time into researching health topics and planning events for other students. Her biggest accomplishment has been a two-day stress free finals event Dec. 11–12. The event, held at Thrive in the HRC, offered entertainment like games, movies and cookie decorating.

“This was the first event I’ve planned at Health & Wellness. When I first interviewed for the [intern] position I had never planned and hosted an event, and that was one of the goals I hoped to meet if given the opportunity,” Wirtz says. “I spent the first half of the semester learning from the other events that interns plan and implement.”

Her research focused on determining if there was a gap in services that help students persevere during finals time.

“Through this research I found that a lot of events end around 4 or 5 p.m., which was a big signal to me that we were missing out on reaching students. Especially around finals time, working and studying isn’t 9–5, so having a place later in the evening to just unwind and relax, even just for a little, is important,” Wirtz says.

Next semester, she hopes to plan a stress management campaign or event during April, which is stress awareness month.

“I want students to understand that it’s important to take a study break or just have something they enjoy doing, and then go do it. Wildcats look out for each other, and that’s what I’m trying to do with this internship,” Wirtz says. “It has helped me grow and develop a confidence that I can take with me throughout the remainder of my time here as well as in my future career.”

Find an Internship

Health & Wellness accepts internship applications in the spring. Check out the intern openings and learn more about our program.