By Lauren Lavelle
Two Rider students were given the opportunity to speak with former First Lady Michelle Obama on Jan. 13 after being invited to the White House as a part of the Healthy Campus Challenge.
With over 350 colleges participating this year, the Healthy Campus Challenge aims to inform students about the Affordable Care Act, a successful piece of legislation that encourages affordable healthcare and the promotion of healthcare in general.
“On a student level, I hope that we helped the student body become more aware of their healthcare options,” said senior digital media major Evan Giguere and Healthy Campus participant. “If at least one person got covered because of our campaigning, I call that a success. On an institutional level, I think we showed that Rider is a community that thrives on collaboration. And it always helps to get the word out that Rider students do great things.”
In order to be a part of the Healthy Campus Challenge, students must keep track of enrollment statistics by holding events, sending emails to students and faculty, and using social media to inform others of the benefits of affordable healthcare.
In Rider’s case, with the help of the TV studio, students made short videos promoting the positives of healthcare to be sent in for the challenge.
“Rider has a health science institute advisory board where all the programs that have anything to do with healthcare get together to talk about different initiatives,” said Boris Vilic, dean of the college of continuing studies. “At one of those meetings, I mentioned the challenge and Ann Carroll, the chairperson of the College of Business Administration, said she would have her students from her healthcare administration class work on it. I also talked to Scott Alboum at the TV studio to see if we could do this.”
“Everyone in our class either participated in a video, made a Facebook page or participated in some other form of social media post in order to promote the message of this challenge,” added Kelsey Johnson, junior healthcare management major and Healthy Campus participant. “A group of classmates and I ended up completing two short videos for the challenge. I had the pleasure of working with many of the TV and film majors who took the time to edit the video clips my classmates and I had worked on.”
After working to prove Rider is committed to spreading awareness of healthcare options, the students involved received a certificate signed by former President Barack Obama and were entered into a lottery for an invitation to Healthy Campus Day at the White House.
“The White House is absolutely beautiful,” said Giguere. “Once we passed through security checkpoints, we were treated to some words by various White House staffers, including Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to Obama. Afterwards, we were led to the east wing of the White House, where former First Lady Michelle Obama greeted us and spoke of the importance of continuing the fight for affordable healthcare after the Obama administration.”
Johnson also enjoyed the experience and the impact it had on college students as a whole.
“Many people find health insurance and health policy a scary topic, especially young college students,” said Johnson. “This challenge was really geared towards students my age to understand the legislation a little more and to have less fear about gaining health insurance. This challenge was not only for the benefit of students at Rider, but the benefit of every college campus in the country.”
With a hopeful future in government, Johnson regards the project as life-changing and cannot wait to see what the health care industry has in store for the future.
“My experience at the White House will never be forgotten,” said Johnson. “I was pleased to have the opportunity to accept an award with Dean Vilic and Evan on the behalf of Rider for completing the challenge, as well as have the opportunity to meet the former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Being that I would like to work in the government sector in the future, this experience was extremely fulfilling for me.”