It was not long ago that Alicia Ferreira was walking through campus and taking classes around the Court of North Carolina. However, December of 2017 marked an end to that familiarity when Ferreira graduated from her undergraduate career at NC State. As the commencement speaker at her department graduation, Ferreira was ecstatic and honored to deliver an address in front of the peers she just spent the last handful of years with and their families.
Ferreira remembers the exact moment she received the news she had been selected to speak. She became emotional and grateful. Public speaking had already been a huge part of her collegiate career while getting her communication degree with a concentration in interpersonal, organizational and rhetorical communication. She had the opportunity to work alongside the director of public speaking and the department head for communication to outline her speech. One of the main things she wanted to address was the misconceptions that surround the work of communication majors. “Communication is much more than talking; it’s an art,” Ferreira said.
Not only was Ferreira a commencement speaker, but she was also a member of University Recreation’s (UREC) student employee community. As a wellness assistant for UREC, Ferreira worked alongside pro staff to promote wellness to the campus community. She was able to learn a lot about wellness through the program because she was the only person without a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or nutrition background. She became knowledgable about the best things to eat, sleep habits, time management, stress management and physical fitness. This experience taught her how to take better care of her health because she was not fully practicing these things before working at UREC. Once she learned how to take care of herself and organize how she wanted to live her life through wellness, she was able to confidently speak about what she was practicing.
One of the misconceptions that Ferreira wants to debunk about wellness is that it is not simply a catch phrase. “A lot of people think that wellness has to do with yoga and eating a lot of fruit. When you type “wellness” into Google, that’s a lot of the stuff that comes up. You see a woman standing on a rock with a leg pose, or whatever. You see measuring tape. So I think that when people think of wellness, they just think of being a healthy, ideal person you see on [the covers of] health magazines. That is a total misconception because wellness is way more than that. We focus on working out and being physically fit, so we can be healthy as a whole. It is also a lot of involvement with your mind and your emotional health. This is so important when you are a student. Also learning how to be self-aware and manage your time,” said Ferreira.
Ferreira wants to encourage people on their wellness journeys. Start setting goals and don’t be afraid because there are people here at UREC to help. “It can be very intimidating at first, but it is so worth it once you reach your goal and get where you want to be.”
The most important thing she learned from Thrivewell was self-care. She now sees in her transition from student life to adult life that self-care is important while you are figuring everything out. Ferreira is sure that without her wellness experience, this transition would be considerably more challenging. As Ferreira pushes into her future she hopes that she is able to transform her passion for public speaking into a career where she can promote self-esteem and body image.