Meet A Deac Monday

Happy Monday, Deac families! We had big news over the weekend: the Presidential Search Committee has announced that Dr. Susan R. Wente will be our next president. Dr. Wente, who currently serves as provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at Vanderbilt University, will begin her presidency on July 1, 2021. There will be much more about President-elect Wente closer to the summer. For now, we wish her and her family a very warm welcome to the Wake Forest family.

Before we get to Meet A Deac, I want to clarify something from Friday’s Daily Deac re: testing. When I said “Students do not need to notify the University or the Student Health Service of a positive result from asymptomatic testing unless they need medical guidance,” that was ONLY in reference to their weekly asymptomatic testing done by WFU (we ordered those tests and see the positive results; students don’t have to call or email Student Health Service to say they got a positive; we already know). If on the other hand a student goes to a CVS/local clinic, etc. on their own and gets a test, if it comes back positive, they DO need to report it to Wake, because we have no way of accessing those results. Hope that clarifies.

Our ’24s got their weekly issue of Letters So Dear today too (see archives here). Important to note that we have an extended Student Involvement Fair taking place for the next 2 weeks, so urge your Deacs to join some groups!

Now we continue our Meet A Deac series, which highlights people on campus who you may not know, but who have an impact on our students’ experiences. Today we meet Dr. Rachel Conway of Athletics.

Rachel Conway, sports psychologist

Rachel, thanks for being willing to share some of your story with us. Let’s start at the beginning – your title and how long you’ve been at Wake. I am a Sport Psychologist in Wake’s Sport Psychology area, which is part of the Athletics Department. I’ve been at Wake for almost three years.

And tell us a little about your background. I graduated from Luther College in 2012 with a double major in Psychology and Athletic Training and a minor in French. In 2014, I earned a Masters of Science from Pacific University in Clinical Psychology, then graduated from Pacific University in 2017 with a Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology. I did an internship at Brigham Young University and completed my postdoctoral work at Lehigh University.

What do you do at Wake (in layperson’s terms)?  I provide clinical psychology and sport performance services to student-athletes. I offer confidential individual sessions and group/team sessions focused on mental health concerns and performance enhancement. Topics can include (but are not limited to): anxiety, depression, eating/body image, trauma, relationships/communication, self-care/boundaries, sleep, motivation, concentration, stress management, love of sport, injury, and leadership.

What do you like best about working at Wake? I love the collaboration! I frequently consult with different offices on campus and there is always a genuine willingness to help others and create the best environment for our students.

Speaking of students, what advice would you have for them? A few things:

Failure is part of success.

Discomfort is where some of the best growth happens.

(part of a Denzel Washington quote) Quitting is for winners: “knowing when to quit, change direction, leave a toxic situation, demand more from life, give up on something that wasn’t working and move on”; these are just as important as perseverance and determination.

Life isn’t linear; everything doesn’t have to be achieved in a certain specific order by certain specific dates. You can take a gap year, you can find love after school, you can continue learning and developing your skillset after graduation.

Breathe (you’re doing great!) And it’s okay to not be okay. It’s normal to need and ask for help.

Spoken like a psychologist! And how about advice for parents and families? I have a similar list that is partially borrowed from some WFU Counseling Center materials:

Transition from “supervisor” to “consultant” by allowing your student to work through their own problems and conflicts. Allow your student to brainstorm a solution before you offer advise; resist the impulse to “fix it” and don’t solve the problem for them. Be a “safety net” not a “safety harness”

Focus on your student’s development, well-being, and whether or not they are meeting their academic and athletic requirements, rather than their specific grades or amount of playing time.

Remind your student of your unconditional love and availability for support

Avoid commenting on weight, appearance, or food choices

Encourage your student to get involved in activities and make friends outside of their team or athletics. And equally as important: find new interests for yourself or pursue old ones.

Keep the communication channels open and non-judgmental. Don’t shy away from discussing difficult topics (e.g., alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, future, careers) as well as the importance of self-care, sleep, and nutrition. Avoid judgmental, condescending, or minimizing statements in response to your student’s concerns (e.g., “You should be over that by now,” “That shouldn’t bother you,” etc.)

Familiarize yourself with campus, community and online resources. There are many!

How did COVID change your work? What were your challenges? The biggest work-specific challenge was moving my work virtually. This involved finding a secure virtual platform for individual sessions and receiving education to ethically and competently provide therapy services online. In terms of general challenges, it was work-life balance. Working from home for several months and moving services virtually made it difficult to separate the work and home spaces.

What do you miss about normal times on campus? In person meetings and connections – being able to drop into someone’s office.

And now we’ve come to the lightning round: the bonus questions!

book: The Silent PatientBook you are reading now: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

The band PentatonixMusic you love:  love variety so I often don’t stick to one band/musician. I can’t remember the last time I listened to an entire soundtrack from the same artist. Some artists that I enjoy: Pentatonix (when Avi was in the group), Panic! at the Disco, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson. One of my absolute favorite songs is Disturbed’s cover of The Sound of Silence.

TV/movies/Netflix, etc.: How much time do you have? Movies and TV are how I best tune out the world and relax. I get transported into other worlds and imaginations; it’s lovely to suspend reality and get immersed in the stories. TV series: Bridgerton, Dexter, Sherlock, Bob’s Burgers, This is Us, Downton Abbey, The Great British Baking Show, Doctor Who, Handmaid’s Tale, American Horror Story, Reign, Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones. Movies: Saw, Marvel Universe movies, anything with Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl, etc.), Disney animated movies, Avatar, The Book Thief, Django, Get Out, Inglourious Basterds, Insidious, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pride and Prejudice, Stardust. Also David Attenborough nature documentaries, and musicals (Wicked, Book of Mormon, Once on This Island, Come From Away, Les Miserables, etc.) My list goes on and on…

Websites you frequentFacebook, to stay in touch with old friends

Guilty pleasure(s): Corny romantic movies. Dragon City (a phone app game)

Introvert or extrovert? I’m a mix. I think of it as a scale: most people are a mix of both to some degree; it’s about how you “recharge your batteries” and depending how you’re depleted you’ll want to recharge in different ways. I really enjoy socializing with people I’m comfortable with/know. I equally enjoy staying home with my partner and animals. My job requires that I socialize a lot with people I don’t know and so I more often “recharge” at home rather than going out to socialize more.

Something most people don’t know about you: I have a tattoo.

What is the first thing you will do when the pandemic is over and we can live normal lives again? Hug my friends. See a movie in the theater. Watch a Broadway show or live theater production.

What question didn’t I ask that you’d like to answer? Ha! I don’t know….Maybe “How many pets do you have?” It’s 6: 2 dogs, 3 cats, 1 snake. All named after characters of movie/tv/franchises we love.

Many thanks to Rachel for being today’s Meet A Deac (and for all she does for our student-athletes)!


— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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