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Humans of the U: Sherrá Watkins

“As the Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness at the University of Utah, I understand firsthand the importance of health equity and the role it plays in ensuring all students have access to the resources and support they need to achieve optimal health and well-being.

Growing up in a family with a teenage mother and a father who was in and out of prison and non-recovery, I never imagined that I would one day hold such a high-level position at a prestigious university. But through hard work, determination, and a passion for health education, prevention, behavioral health, substance abuse, and program development and management, I was able to achieve my goals and make a real difference in the lives of students.

In my role at the U, I am responsible for overseeing five departments: Student Health, the Center for Student Wellness, Campus Recreation Services, the University Counseling Center, and the Center for Disability and Access. In the face of the ongoing pandemic, the topics of well-being and mental health have become increasingly pressing. That’s why we are focusing on ensuring health equity is at the center of all student health and wellness services, programs and the culture of the U. We want to ensure every student, of all intersecting identities, can access and navigate the services we offer.

In Student Affairs, we are constantly evolving based on the needs of our students. We gather and analyze data to determine whether there should be any additional services for students, and we work hard to ensure students are aware of the services available to them on campus. In Student Health and Wellness in particular, we want to make sure students have the health literacy to help them navigate the healthcare system upon leaving the U.

One of the ways we are working to serve the “whole student” is by hosting a roundtable discussion on February 27, from 4-6 p.m. at the Union, Saltair Room. This event will focus on how students interact with spirituality and/or religion, and the transformative nature of community, the internet and space. The moderator for this event is (Rev.) Dr. Teddy Reeves, a sought-after public speaker, teacher, facilitator and preacher who serves as the Curator of Religion at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

I invite everyone to join us for this important conversation and to learn more about how we are working to ensure health equity for all students at the University of Utah. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our students and in our community.”

— Sherrá Watkins, Associate Vice President for Student Health and Wellnes