Money money money…. MONEY!!!!

financial wellbeing

Our first Well-Being series was kicked off the morning of Tuesday 2/17/15 with Dr. Margaret Brooks discussing the ideology behind Financial Well-Being. Dr. Brooks shared some candid experiences growing up, her journey to where she is today, and some of the organizations she volunteers for in order to help spread financial literacy. It was inspiring to hear someone with a relatable background to myself as well as relatable to our student population.

Dr. Brooks brought up a Ted Talk, “Are We in Control of Our Decisions” which brought to light the concept of “decision illusions; understanding our cognitive limitations”. The Ted Talk presenter used the example of the amount of people willing to participate in the organ donation process through the DMV in Europe. Some countries had a low rate of participation while other countries had close to 100% participation. The answer for this was revealed in the way the question was asked on the DMV form. The question on the DMV form for the countries with 100% participation was designed that if the box wasn’t checked, you are enrolled into the organ donation program. Which meant that people who overlooked the question, or who didn’t understand it, did not check the box and therefore became an organ donor. The Ted Talk presenter used this example to discuss the need to understand our cognitive limitations.

Dr. Brooks brought this to light in our group discussion around Lottery Winners who resulted in bankruptcy or a failed end. We discussed what the reasons for these negative results were and shared several thoughts as to help us understand why. The need for financial literacy is especially important for our student population as well as our employees. The chapter offered the following tips for promoting financial well-being:

– Set up automatic defaults for bills and contributions to savings

– Give to others/donate

– Spend money on experiences

– Wealth = financial security + your happiness with your standard of living

– Identify you influences of financial decisions


Do you have a plan to become financially well?  How would you define your financial wellbeing?


George Marshall Jr is a Residence Director in Woodward Hall.

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I _______ my job!

How do you finish that statement?  Love? Hate? Like? Dislike? Of the five areas of wellbeing, Career/purpose is considered to be the most important. Think about the amount of time that we spend at our place of employment each day as opposed to our personal lives. For most, our jobs take up a significant part of our day and become part of our identity, but do we really enjoy what we do? Or is the best part of our day the final hour spent anticipating the minute we get to bolt?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

This is the mantra of people with high career wellbeing.  Individuals in this group enjoy their work days almost as much as their weekends.  This carries over to their personal lives, relationships, and can actually have positive health benefits.

Or you may hate your job, think your boss is a jerk, and spend your entire weekend dreading Monday morning.  This too, carries over.  People with low career wellbeing are at higher risk for psychological and physiological problems.  And we thought it was just a job?

The career wellbeing session gave me a lot to ponder.  Prior to this session, I did not fully realize the effects of being engaged or disengaged at work or how much a supervisor can directly impact both.

Having spent several years climbing the corporate ladder at a well-known, monochromatic, package delivery company, I wholeheartedly agree that having low career wellbeing is physically and mentally exhausting.  I have found that work stressors generally do not punch a time clock.  They tend to travel home with you and become part of the family.  This benefits no one.

The good news is that we can change our membership in either group, as well as, our level of engagement and “never work” again.  By the way, I love my job! My boss is great. I get along with my coworkers. Life is good.


Cheryl Amaral is an Admin II in the BSU Wellness Center

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A Brief Lesson on the History of the Rainbow Flag


I was talking with a few lgbt students last week in the Bear’s Den and I was surprised to hear that they didn’t know about where the rainbow flag came from or its significance.  As an old timer I shared what I knew with the students. Surprisingly they were interested and did give me that look that some 18-22 year olds gives their parents when they are bored or uninterested. As we move in to the season of celebrating pride especially the BSU Annual Rainbow Keynote later this month, I thought it was fitting to also share this brief “history lesson” with my Student Affairs colleagues.

The rainbow flag was first used to symbolize gay pride and diversity by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker and the original was hand-dyed. It first flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. The flag consisted of eight stripes and Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors: hot pink = sex, red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, turquoise = magic, blue = serenity, violet = spirit.

The flag currently consists of six colored stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. It is most commonly flown with the red stripe on top, as the colors appear in a natural rainbow. The rainbow flag, sometimes called the freedom flag, has been used as a symbol of gay pride and gay rights since the 1980s.

 Mark Your Calendars:

March 31, 2015, 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
BSU Rainbow Keynote


Brian Salvaggio is the Assistant Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs

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Wellbeing – Social

When thinking about the different aspects of one’s personal wellbeing, it is really important to remember our social wellbeing.  We are social beings and without connections to others it is difficult for us to thrive.  In our discussion about Social Wellbeing, Brian Salvaggio led us in a discussion exploring some different parts of how our connections with others can increase our happiness, reduce stress and help us through tough times.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of social wellbeing is that our broader social network can impact our own happiness.  If your friend is happy, you are 15% more likely to be happy.  If a friend of that friend is happy, you are still 10% more likely to be happy!  To me it is like the butterfly effect, how our actions, our attitude and our approach to life can really make a much larger impact then we might realize.  You might say that 10% increase in likelihood isn’t a big deal, but an increase in salary of $10,000 only increases your likelihood of happiness by 2%.   Just shows how important it is to make connections and keep them strong to help improve your overall wellbeing.

Matt Miller is the Associate Director in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

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ACUI Reflections


Since starting my graduate program at Bridgewater this past fall I have been exposed to a lot of different experiences that will help me in the future. One of these experiences took place in November when I had the opportunity to attend ACUI at the University of Vermont. The theme for this conference was “Connecting to Our Roots,” which allowed me to reflect on why I wanted to attend graduate school for student affairs and how my past experiences will impact the way I move forward in this career.

This was my first time attending this conference as a graduate student. I was excited to be a part of the graduate track, which provided educational sessions tailored to graduate students. One of the advantages of being a part of the graduate track was being paired with a mentor from a different institution. I enjoyed this because I was able to discuss different ways universities program and how that impacts a student’s experience at that institution.

While I learned a great deal through attending different education sessions, I was also asked to facilitate Student Leadership Connections, which was an activity for undergraduate students at the conference. This part of the conference stood out to me because not only did I have the ability to network with second year graduate students from the University of Vermont and Central Connecticut State University, but I also had the ability to work with undergraduate students. The activity focused on undergraduate’s students about their experiences with student activities and how their experiences throughout their life have effected their beliefs and values. After completing this activity I realized that I am extremely fortunate to work with student leaders that are so passionate about their institutions and I look forward to the future ahead.

I believe that having this experience will allow me to work with new students in a different light. By understanding where a new student is coming from, I will be able to better understand the different situations they may be worried about. Since every individual has a different background it is important to take the time to listen and learn what his or her individual needs are. While attending this conference has allowed me to think about what it is like to work with new students I also learned how valuable networking is. Throughout this conference I was able to meet with Student Affairs Professionals from all over the Northeast. This will help me in the future because not only is it important to network with individuals at different institutions it is also important to collaborate with different departments in both Student and Academic Affairs.


Caroline Horne is a Graduate Intern in both the Office of New Student and Family Programs as well as the Office of Residence Life and Housing working with Residential Learning Communities.

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Well, well, well…wellbeing!

The January 8th Professional Development workshop was a fun one for me. The work for the past six years with so many great people on campus with StrengthsQuest was finally going to have the anchor it needed – a talented presenter from the Gallup organization to ground this conversation in discussions about the relationship that StrengthsQuest has to Wellbeing, Hope and Engagement. The conversation inside my head shouted excitement! Most of the division was going to be there! We were going to focus on using these tools to facilitate student success! We were going to have leaders from across campus also joining us! How fantastic! One quick pause… I’ve seen this presenter before. How different could it actually be?

What was different was the conversation in my own head as I was making meaning of the information he shared.  Yes, the five areas of wellbeing are still Career/Purpose, Social, Financial, Physical and Community wellbeing.  Yes, I can still see the areas I need to work on glaring at me like a neon sign.  What else could possibly be a take away?

The mic drop came from the presenter when he reminded us,

“Strengths Finder was never created for self-awareness.  Strengths Finder was created to be actionable.”

BOOM. The connection between my “Top 5” and Wellbeing is just that.  My “Top 5” (Futuristic, Individualization, Communication, Ideation, Activator) is the “how” for improving wellbeing. My task as someone looking to lead her best and most authentic life possible is to figure out how to deploy my talents to make things better. Sign. Me. Up.

When looking at how to use this knowledge in my work, I find this incredibly empowering. When Wellbeing is off, a focus on Strengths will give someone a way to highlight their existing potential to take action and make things better. (yes, this is my “Activator” theme smiling at you). An instrument like Strengths Finder helps give language to what a person may easily already know, but formalizing language to describe it makes using it to take action so much easier.

It may make me unpopular, but I’ll say it out loud. Work/life balance conversations have made me tired over my years in the field. I’m energized by this conversation, however. It helps remind me that I have the ability to take action to improve my Wellbeing and, in turn, improve my quality of life.

Dr. Cindy Kane is the Director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

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Mind Full, or Mindful?


Prior to becoming a graduate assistant in New Student and Family Programs here at BSU, I had never been exposed to the inner workings of what it meant to be a Student Affairs Professional.  Through the generosity of the department, I was given the opportunity to attend the NASPA Region 1 Conference 2014 in Newport, RI to gain some insight into the world of Student Affairs. Having been my first conference where I was among fellow graduate students and working professionals, I found it somewhat overwhelming at first to acclimate to the pace of the conference while simultaneously attempting to absorb all the knowledge I could.

For me, it was the first session on the second day of the conference that had the most impact, not only on the rest of my experience at the conference, but my life going forward.  “The Mindful SAP (Student Affairs Professional),” facilitated by Anne Hopkins Gross, Dean of Students at Southern Vermont College was an inspiring session about the importance of being mindful, of being present, and of learning how essential it is to let things go.  As Anne mentioned, “Are the little things really going to matter in a day, a week, a month, or a year?”

Prior to this conference, I found myself more “mind full” than “mindful,” and still do most days.  I am thankful to this session for exposing me to the difference between the two however, as it allowed me to be more present for the rest of the conference, make great connections, and have a lot of fun.

As a result of the “Mindful SAP” session I have adapted the mantra of “let it go” used in times of stress (immediately followed by the entire Frozen rendition on repeat in my head).   Embracing a more mindful lifestyle has led me to become less overwhelmed by new experiences and more prepared to engage myself in the opportunity.  In just a few short months, I have noticed a tremendous difference in my composure from working my first August Orientation (pre-conference) where I felt a little out of place to January Orientation (post-conference) where I felt self-assured and completely present.  I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this NASPA conference and learn just how important mindfulness and personal wellbeing is to the one’s success not only this field, but in life as well.

*above image obtained from Anne Hopkins Gross “The Mindful SAP” presentation.

Kristin Fratoni

Graduate Assistant, Office of New Student and Family Programs

Bridgewater State University

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