During the month of April, I was able to watch a first year student
continue to increase his involvement at Truman State University and
contribute to student organizations across campus. Mark Van Coutren
had a busy month with induction into an academic honors fraternity,
participation in campus activities, being an RHA representative of
his Residence Hall, and serving on the RHA Mental Health Awareness
Task Force. As the semester comes to a close and gets busy with
academics, I enjoyed that he stayed excited and contributed in many
different ways throughout the month.|
From April 16 through April 22, Mark participated in Truman's Human
vs. Zombies competition, a campus game where students simulate a
real life zombie apocalypse outbreak 24 hours a day, for a week.
Throughout the week, students can often be seen running around
campus with either a headband or arm band symbolizing either human
or zombie status. It was fun to watch the community of players
throughout the week, and I watched Mark on multiple occasions
fleeing from zombies around his Residence Hall or on the campus
Mark is also involved in the Residence Hall Association where he
provides updates from the Missouri Hall Council he is a part of as
the RHA representative. His attendance at RHA meetings has been
amazing throughout the year, and he also showed dedication to the
organization by attending outside events. On April 28, Mark attended
the RHA formal where it was exciting to see his fun side shine as he
danced with other RHA members and make connections with attendees.
The largest project put on with the help of Mark this month was the
RHA Mental Health Awareness Task Force campus outreach project.
Until the late April, the Task Force met weekly to prepare for the
project, and Mark stepped up to serve as one of the co-chairs. In
this role, he was a part of the group of around eight student
leaders who coordinated the creation of stepping stones with student
hand prints. On April 27, Mark tabled on the Quad with RHA members
to allow students to place their hands in cement and speak about
positive mental health on campus. Mark assisted a lot with the
cement creation process, giving away of remembrance buttons, and
helped recruit in attendance to the table through his honors
On the evening of April 30, students gathered for a Candlelight
Vigil with the stepping stones that were created. The stones were
layed outside of the health center to represent students giving a
helping hand to themselves and others with regard to metal health.
Students took part in reflection about mental health on campus, and
had conversations guided by questions from the Task Force. Mark
contributed greatly to the conversation and gave lots of feedback
from a first year perspective. His vulnerability to discuss this
with other attendees and provide encouragement was impressive as
most attendees were older students. Mark gave assistance to others
to help light candles and help with tear down following the vigil.
First year student at Truman State University often students stay
focused on academics early on and branch out during second semester.
I loved watching Mark pursue getting involved and finding community
through different organizations on campus. He took on many
responsibilities to support the RHA campus outreach project and have
high involvement in activities put on throughout the month of April.
Going into next year, I'm thrilled to watch Mark continue to grow
and hope that he builds on his engagement from this year to make a
high impact at Truman State University next fall.
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