On Thursday, September 27th, LEADS staff, student-athletes and students were joined by Mr. Hikaru Kozuma for the first Connection Dinner of the 2018-2019 academic year. Taking place at Johnny’s Tavern in Amherst Center, selected student-athletes, coaches, and members of the Student Health Educator organization gathered to discuss the current issues and trends of mental health on Amherst College’s campus.
The Connection Dinner is an event built specifically to bring a group of eclectic people together to speak about pertinent subjects to the Amherst College community. Listening to one another allows for awareness of others’ perspectives and meaningful dialogue brings engagement to resolving potential issues on campus.
Mr. Hikaru Kozuma, the Chief Student Affairs Officer, leads a team of student affairs professionals committed to providing an exemplary student experience. Mr. Kozuma is responsible for creating and implementing a college-wide vision for the engagement of students by leading the following departments: the Office of Student Affairs, Residential Life, the Counseling Center, the Health Center, Health Education, Student Activities, Accessibility Services, Religious Life, Community Standards, and Case Management. In his role, Mr. Kozuma aims to deliver programs and services to support students in their transition and growth at Amherst College.
Due to his involvement with student wellbeing on campus, the Student Health Educator organization was invited to join the LEADS team and Mr. Kozuma. LEADS Director, Coach Justin Serpone, welcomed the group and asked that students introduce himself or herself with their names, hometown, year, and major. Following the welcome, the group chatted over a delicious dinner where students and student-athletes could chat about common interests and form connections that extend outward from the Connection Dinner.
Before dessert, Mr. Kozuma led a discussion surrounding the topic of mental health on college and university campuses. According to research from the American Psychological Association, more than one-third of first-year students in eight industrialized countries report symptoms consistent with diagnosable mental health disorders (2018). Unfortunately, due to the increase in these numbers, counseling centers in these countries are not equipped to help the students (APA, 2018). Mr. Kozuma asked those at the Connection Dinner some ways that they can promote and encourage mental wellbeing in the Amherst College community. Students and staff shared their favorite ways to unwind and relax, quiet places on campus to study, and ways to enhance the Amherst College community through meaningful behaviors.
It is our hope that everyone walked away from the dinner learning a little something new and also meeting someone new. The idea of the Connection Dinner is meant to be taken and implemented on campus; always looking to opportunities to meet new people and learn new perspectives from others.
Amherst LEADS is looking forward to continuing with Connection Dinners throughout the fall semester!