Spring 2020 marked a temporary end to the normally bustling campus life of Stockton University. As students left in a wake of uncertainty, clubs such as Stockton’s Holistic Health Club would take a pause, too.
“They went home and things ceased,” Stockton physical therapy professor Dr. Mary Lou Galantino said.
As both the minor coordinator of the holistic health program and advisor to the minor’s club, Galantino bore witness to students’ adjustment to a new online realm from home as the COVID-19 pandemic increased in severity.
In survey data she collected from Stockton health sciences faculty and students with her colleagues, Galantino saw how students were just trying to meet basic needs during this time, let alone figuring out how the Holistic Health club would operate in this new realm.
As students began adjusting to this post-pandemic world, Galantino began reaching out to students in the minor program to revitalize the club after such unprecedented challenges.
“I think that’s what my reach-out was to: members of the minor that would be willing to step up to the plate,” Galantino said. “Enter Olivia London.”
Recent Stockton graduate Olivia London rose to the role of Holistic Health Club president in fall 2020 and played a major role in renewing a club that was essentially dormant.
“I had a million things going on,” London said with a laugh. “But I said I can help somehow.”
After assembling an e-board for the fall 2020 semester, London, Galantino, and other students would embark on the journey of building up the club.
According to Galantino, this wellness-centered club that began in 2013 was founded upon student-led ideas from those in the holistic health minor. Wellness activities such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, stress reduction strategies, and more were a few ideas that students of the minor wished to see more of on campus. Galantino felt this would add an important layer of experience to the minor. Despite the club’s connection to the minor, London emphasizes that the club is open to all Stockton students, regardless of their major or minor.
“So, honestly, I wasn’t ready to take over as president,” London said with a laugh. I’ve never been president of a club, even through high school. And I wasn’t that involved in Stockton, I joined the club, but I was just a member, I wasn’t on the e-board. And when Mary Lou had no one to take over, I wanted to be a part of the club,” London said.
A bit nervous, but confident in the online space she found herself in, London would not only be embarking on a club-developing journey, but a leadership one, too. Updating the club’s constitution and bylaws helped to clarify the e-board’s roles and responsibilities, paving the way for a new year ahead.
With the help of Stockton’s Office of Student Development, London was well on her way to learning key leadership skills. Between being in frequent contact with the office and watching the office’s Youtube videos created for student leaders during the thick of the pandemic, she accessed multiple resources to attain success.
These leadership skills proved to persist in the face of challenges. Times when the club saw a lack of attendance at events encouraged London to survey members on their availability for club events. Before onboarding a public relations chair, London crafted creative posts and constantly tagged Stockton’s account to raise awareness of the club. They were able to share their name even further with the opportunity to promote themselves on Stockton’s official Instagram account.
“So think about it, it truly takes a village when it comes to interfacing and supporting from an IT standpoint, from a willingness standpoint, and also to take a big leap and Olivia did that. Olivia said yes,” Galantino said.
London’s presidency term was filled with engaging events, such as virtual yoga sessions, speaker events, and participation in Stockton’s virtual Relay for Life event. To unite the club virtually over Zoom, the club completed a project that was mailed home to members, which involved sorting small succulent plants in a tin, all while enjoying relaxing music. She led 15-20 active members during her journey as president.
London’s efforts in the minor program certainly did not go unnoticed. She received the Emily Bessemer Service Award in May 2020, an honor she did not expect. The award is given to a student in the holistic health minor who is committed to service in the Stockton community and community service after their time at Stockton.
As she reflects on her term and the future ahead, London is excited that students have been expressing interest in the club.
“I hope it [the club] sticks around for years and years,” she said.
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