Our Learning in Action series highlights stories of students outside the classroom, implementing their skills in a real-life environment. In this special student interview, the Leaders’ Lounge caught up with Stephanie Myers, current student and founder of Mind4Athletes.
The mission of Mind4Athletes is as follows:
We provide mental health education and psychiatric care to college athletes to help reduce the negative effects of mental health disorders and to prevent suicides. Through our services, college level student-athletes will be able to be mindful individuals who can enjoy life and sport while performing to their maximum capacity.The overarching vision of Mind4Athletes is to decrease the number of mental health diagnoses and suicides in college level student-athletes nationwide. As an organization, we work to reach out and help as many college athletes as possible.
Stephanie Myers was inspired to start Mind4Athletes by her own experience as a student-athlete.
“As a former Division I soccer player, I saw far too many student-athletes suffer from depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders while in college. More times than not, these student-athletes did not receive the attention nor the services that they needed in order to better manage their conditions to enjoy life and sport.
During my senior year of college, I myself experienced general anxiety disorder, which caused me to walk away from the sport that I have loved since childhood. I was a captain and scholarship player my senior year, and the last thing I wanted to do was quit playing soccer. Yet, with the support of my family and friends I knew that walking away was what my mind and my body needed at the time.
I chose to create this nonprofit to open up the discussion about mental health disorders in collegiate athletics. I believe that the mission of the Mind4Athletes organization will help to decrease the stigma attached to mental health disorders in collegiate athletics. This organization is not just for athletes going through these mental health struggles, but also for the 100 percent of athletes who deal with the highs and lows of collegiate sports.”
Stephanie has already begun to see the fruits of her labors.
“Since starting this organization, I have been overwhelmed by the number of student-athletes who have come to me and opened up about their mental health struggles. This organization is all about helping people speak up and seek help for the mental health struggles that one in four Americans face on a daily basis. We are all human; we all struggle. It is time that we talk through and seek help for these struggles to make us even stronger.”
Villanova’s MPA program has helped Stephanie put her public service motivation into practice and address a cause she believes in.
“My whole life, I have always wanted to help people but never really knew how I could make the impact that I wanted. Enrolling in Villanova’s MPA program has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. This program has equipped me with the necessary tools to make the difference I have always dreamed of making.
I decided to start Mind4Athletes in January 2014 – my first semester of graduate school. Because our public administration program has a dedicated nonprofit track, I was able to seek the guidance of the nonprofit faculty in starting this organization. The mentorship that the MPA faculty provided me with in this endeavor has been nothing short of phenomenal. I have had teachers give hours of their day listening to me and providing input about the nuts and bolts of Mind4Athletes. The faculty members have provided important contacts for Mind4Athletes, allowed me to present in undergraduate classes on this topic, and attend conferences. Overall, the faculty has been instrumental in helping me launch this new nonprofit.
What I have learned in all of my MPA classes directly coincides with what I am doing with Mind4Athletes. Professor Wilson always says, “make your education work for you.” I took this advice and ran with it! My Individual Research course allowed me to create the 44 page ever-changing business plan of Mind4Athletes. I have also learned how to read and balance budgets in Financial Management, create a motivational work environment for my employees in Public Personnel Management, write grants and cases of support in Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations, understand ethics in Public Administration Theory, and much more! All of these skills have been fundamental to the foundation of Mind4Athletes; I would be completely lost without this education.”
Mind4Athletes is moving forward at an exciting pace! At the end of last year, the organization received its IRS employer identification number and its approval by the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Two Board members committed earlier this year – Mitchell A. Greene, Ph.D, a Clinical & Sport Psychologist and Joseph Dowling, M.S., a Licensed Professional Counselor. Last month, the IRS received the organization’s application for 501(c)3 status. Ingrid Moyer of Hofstra University has joined as Vice President for the organization.
“At this time we are trying to absorb as much information as possible from all of the experts in order to create effective mental health services for collegiate student-athletes. We are also working to expand our network and spread the word about Mind4Athletes.”
Do you have a story of learning in action that you’d like to share with the Leaders’ Lounge? Email us!