Health & Wellness, director honored
Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 17:11
No matter how hard some students may try, gaining the "Freshman 15," or developing other health problems sometimes seems to be inevitable.
However, there is one person at ASU who has made many strides to promote the health and wellness of the ASU community, Robyn Whitehead, director of the Department of Health and Wellness.
On Oct. 21, Whitehead received both the 2011 Leadership in Physical Fitness Individual Award, in addition to the Government Agency award on behalf of the department.
Whitehead's passion for health and physical wellness all began during her time in high school.
"I got into exercise in high school and noticed that the knowledge came pretty easily to me. I chose exercise physiology at the University of Mississippi and never looked back," she said. "After getting my bachelor's in exercise science in 2002, I got my master's in sports administration in December 2003 at the University of Southern Mississippi."
Whitehead is also currently working toward a Psy.D. (doctor of psychology) in health and wellness at the University of the Rockies, where she enrolled in June.
After running a campus recreation center at Northern State University in Louisiana shortly after graduation, Whitehead moved into a full-time teaching position at NSU, teaching classes in exercise science, health promotion and education as well as sports recreation.
She also advised students in the Department of Health and Human Performance from January 2008 to July 2009.
Whitehead moved to Arkansas in summer 2009 due to her husband's new job as a professor of physical therapy here at ASU.
In July, Whitehead assumed her current position as director of the Department of Wellness and Health Promotions, of which she is the only full-time member.
Whitehead does not merely encourage physical fitness, but also sets an example by participating in triathlons, which have become her main hobby for many years.
"I've been doing triathlons for nine years, as well as regular sessions of running, swimming and biking. I also met my husband at an event who was a professional triathlete at the time," she said.
Whitehead is the mother of a 13-month-old daughter and is heavily involved at Valley Ridge Baptist Church, where she sings as a member of the praise team and is in the process of creating a series of group exercise classes that will involve an incentive program at the beginning of the year.
The program will encourage accountability and fellowship in maintaining health.
She also obtained a ZUMBA dance instruction license at ZUMBA fitness in March, as well as serving as the host of ASU Wellness Radio on KASU 91.9FM.
Whitehead expressed hope that through the recognition of receiving these awards, that the department will be able to expand and grow in the future in order to further assist ASU.
"I am extremely happy to receive the award. Basically, it was not just looking at what I've done at ASU, but outside of it as well," she said. "This is a one-person department with just three part-time staff trying to increase health and wellness for over 1,500 employees and students. These awards show that even something small can make a difference, as well as having something to grow to.
"When asked about the next step in her career, Whitehead said the following.
"My hope is that we can just grow and have an opportunity to advance and get what we need to increase participation in our programs and help more members of ASU stay healthy."
Robin Hicks, executive assistant to the provost, believes that ASU's health and wellness programs would not be where they are today without Whitehead's influence.
"Robyn and I have worked together the last two years. I was a part of the (Health and Wellness) program and felt that her efforts should be recognized, so I nominated her for the Governor's and Leadership in Physical Fitness Individual Awards," Hicks said.
"She recently started a 15-minute walk program that employees can take during their break times that allows them to get some exercise walking around the campus. She also recently coordinated a wellness counsel made up of faculty and staff. She's kind of a one-woman shop. Health professions and athletic training students have a wonderful opportunity to get hands-on experience before entering the workforce and to help get fellow ASU students healthy," she said.
Hicks also feels that Whitehead's relationship with the ASU brass society is another benefit for the department.
"I think one of the assets that we have is that she works with the administration to bring opportunities and goals to get the people that come here healthy. She has interaction at all levels with the institution," Hicks said.
Like Whitehead, Hicks also feels that the department will eventually expand in the future.
"Most companies understand the importance of health," she said. "With new programs like a health fair, acquiring graduate assistants, expanding her hours and listening to what people want and getting it accomplished, I believe it will expand very soon, but I don't think many employees understand what's available."
Hicks said she feels Whitehead is an example to any ASU faculty, staff member or student looking to improve their physical conditions.