Hana Ahmed ’23
Around noon on Friday, Nov. 15, members of the Claremont community ventured to Bowling Green Lawn for the annual 5C Fresh Check Day. Fresh Check Day is part of a nationwide campaign to promote dialogue around mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses in an engaging way.
One of the main proponents of this event was Associate Director of Tiernan Field House, Lisette Nicole De La Trinidad. De La Trinidad works backstage to implement many of the health promotion and education outreach programs that occur on Scripps’s campus, including Movies for Mental Health (M4MH), Sex in the Dark, and Be Well Fridays. As a behind-the-scenes leader, her contributions to the Claremont community often go unnoticed by the public. However, I recently had the privilege of sitting down with De La Trinidad for an interview to learn more about her presence at Scripps College and her journey to this point in her life and career.
The Scripps Voice (TSV): Can you tell me about your position at the Field House?
De La Trinidad (DLT): I started off working here as a Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Tiernan Field House and that role specifically involved me doing health and wellness programming and implementing health and wellness initiatives for the campus community. But recently that’s changed. I’ve accepted the position of Associate Director ‒ it’s a fairly new position to me, I started at the beginning of this month. I’m going to be responsible for implementing and evaluating evidence-based and needs-based health education programs relating to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. I’m going to be primarily focusing on prevention, risk reduction, and helping support different intervention programming for the campus community. I also help with the management of the day-to-day operations of the Tiernan Field House, and [development and implementation of] a comprehensive training model for the TFH staff.
TSV: What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
DLT: Definitely working with the students. But I’d [also] say the fact that I find this work meaningful and purposeful; I always wanted a career where I can wake up every day and be happy to go to work and find meaning in what I do. [And] I think that college is very influential and impactful in an individual’s life. It’s a time when students are definitely going through a high amount of stress, and I feel that especially being in this community, at a high achieving academic institution, students feel that [academic] pressure at the same time they’re trying to balance work and apply to internships and study for midterms and finals. It’s completely overwhelming, and it’s easy at times to neglect our own personal wellbeing and adopt harmful coping behaviors in exchange for meeting all of our commitments. These harmful coping behaviors are really habits that are forming, and that’s gonna carry on throughout the students’ lives, throughout their professional careers. So I see the work that I do as an important opportunity to intervene at that influential time, and support them in reframing their thinking and providing them [with] the resources and tools needed so that they focus on what’s really important, which is their wellbeing.
TSV: How do you practice self-care and look after your own well-being?
DLT: I feel like I have a great support system. My husband is definitely somebody I can go to to vent [or] talk about my day with. My family has always been incredibly supportive; they’ve always instilled the notion that, yes, my academics are important, my professional and personal goals are important–but what comes first is my own wellbeing. I think that’s why I hold those values so closely, and I want others to realize that that’s what’s important at the end of the day, too. I think another thing that I do is make a lot of time for self-care. No matter how overwhelmed I feel, I make sure that at least one point in my day is focused towards some type of self-care. [One] thing I like to do is draw; when I started off in undergrad, [I first wanted to] be a fine arts major. I used to draw with chalk pastels and [use] water colors, and I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing that more often… I feel like having those interactions and being able to disconnect from some of the stressors in my life and focus on self-care has been a great coping technique for me.
TSV: What projects or events have you been involved with that are particularly memorable or important to you?
DLT: One that comes to mind is the completion of the Wellness Room. Conception of that space began in Fall 2018, and that’s when we started reaching out to our Peer Health Educators, to different student groups on campus, to SAS, and started asking them what they wanted to see in a wellness space. We really wanted to bring that space here in the Field House because we wanted to reframe the way students and the campus community were viewing the Field House. We were being viewed as solely a fitness facility. And it’s great, but that’s only a part of who we are. We really wanted to rebrand [ourselves] as a fitness, health and wellness center, and I think [the Wellness Room] really ties into that mission. I think that space provides students a location to destress, to focus on their mental and emotional health, and [it] provides easy access to different health and wellness supplies. It really helps reframe what this facility does, and so I’ve really enjoyed seeing that space come to life.
TSV: Are there any other resources or services provided by the Field House that you wish people knew more about?
DLT: Yeah ‒ one of them being our Peer Health Educator hours, [which] I feel are a bit underutilized by students. These are dedicated hours where students can have one-on-one coaching with our Peer Health Educators; they can receive information from how to navigate a difficult class to finding out about different health and wellness resources on campus. I feel like before the Wellness Room, that service wasn’t really utilized. It was hard, too, because our PHEs sat right behind the front desk and there wasn’t that privacy and students weren’t able to have that one-on-one moment with a Peer Health Educator without an audience [being] right next to them. I’m hoping now that we have that space, students will begin to utilize those office hours a little bit more. Another program that comes to mind is our Condom Canary program. That’s a free sexual health subscription program where students can opt in to receive [a personalized kit with] sexual health and wellness supplies. [Students] can go online to a quick Formstack and customize a little package that gets sent to their mailbox, and they’re able to opt into that once a month. We’ll send things like condoms, dental dams, lubricants‒different health and wellness resources‒, and some fun things like stickers, chapsticks, and things to focus on self-care as well. [We hope] this will help in overcoming different barriers, like privacy or cost.
TSV: Is there anything else you want the 5C community to know about health and wellness in general?
DLT: I would just want them to know that health and wellness is a subjective thing. We’re [Tiernan employees] not here to tell students and the community, ‘This is right, this is wrong; this is healthy, this is unhealthy.’ We’re here to provide students and the campus community [with] the tools, resources, [and] knowledge around how they can improve their quality of life. We all have our own unique definitions of what ‘wellness’ means to us. We know what makes us happy. I want the community to know that the Field House is here to support that.
Information about the PHEs, wellness workshops and programming and Condom Canary can be found on Tiernan Field House’s Inside Scripps webpage. Students can also use an iPad kiosk in the Field House to access program information, sign up for free monthly Condom Canary packages, check in, take a depression screening, use the Headspace meditation app or sign a waiver to use the Wellness Room’s massage chair.