A Nebraska Business Honors Academy student and supply chain management major, Peyton Walker utilized her personal journey with student wellness to pitch a new program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. As she prepares for life after graduation, she leaves a legacy of helping Huskers enjoy a happier and healthier university experience.
“Student wellness is the journey toward balanced living in order to discover one’s purpose,” said Walker, who found the stress of moving away from her family and challenging herself academically compounded after “a bad break-up” her freshman year. “I needed to talk to someone and did not want to overburden my friends.”
Walker recalled how her high school in Fort Collins, Colorado, offered peer counseling and decided to build off of that idea. As part of a program run by the university's student government called Freshmen Campus Leadership Associates where students undertake a positive impact project, Walker decided to pitch the idea of launching a student well-being coaching program at Nebraska to Connie Boehm, director of Big Red Resilience and Well-Being.
“Peyton’s idea of a support for students and my plan for well-being coaches aligned very well together. She is an amazing young woman who is compassionate about helping others and giving back to her community. Nearly 100 student volunteers support the work of the Big Red Resilience and Well-Being, which speaks to how Nebraska’s students are so committed to supporting each other,” Boehm said.
Boehm and Walker partnered, and the peer coaching program officially became a resource offered to Nebraska students in fall 2018. Walker and more than 30 trained undergraduate, graduate and professional student well-being coaches began educating fellow Huskers on how to use campus resources and create the life they want to live. The program also experienced steady growth during Walker’s four years on campus.
“So many students struggle with wellness, especially mental health,” Walker said. “As a resident assistant and well-being coach, I see firsthand how students perceive themselves affects everything such as working toward goals, relationships, academics and even sleep. In the honors dorm, there is that added anxiety related to perfectionism.”
Walker also found support and guidance at the College of Business. After doing poorly on the first and second exams in Managerial Accounting (ACCT 308) her sophomore year, panic or apathy could have taken hold.
“I quickly learned I’m not good at accounting. The class had five exams so I needed to turn the semester around quickly. Even the prospect of just barely passing was terrifying! I turned to Becka Neary-DeLaPorte, and we developed a plan,” she said.
She created her own practice exams to deal with time constraints and visited her professor during office hours. Due to her efforts, her final grade was above the median score in the class.
“Peyton possesses a tenacity and resilience that is unmatched. If one path doesn’t find success, without hesitation or extreme self-doubt, she evaluates and redirects to a new strategy. More importantly, she continued to ask for help,” said Dr. Neary-DeLaPorte, assistant director of the Nebraska Business Honors Academy. “Because Peyton chose to share her experiences and struggles, she inspired her peers to work through hard things. She also taught them to ask questions and encouraged them to utilize campus resources for support.”
Her abilities to bounce back and understand the needs of others will benefit her after graduation as well. She starts at Oracle in Denver working in business-to-business sales in June.
“It’s the resilience and perseverance I learned through some of my coursework that will help me the most in a sales career. In sales, you’re going to get rejected. My academic challenges like this accounting course taught me to pick myself up and try harder next time. I’m ready to live outside my comfort zone,” she said.
Find out more about the services offered at Big Red Resilience and Well-Being by visiting https://resilience.unl.edu/. To learn more about the Nebraska Business Honors Academy, visit: https://business.unl.edu/honorsacademy.