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Health and Wellness

The Wolfies: Leaders in Creating a Thriving Wolfpack

Wellness and Recreation’s 10th annual student employee award celebration took place on Monday, April 10, recognizing graduating seniors and outstanding team members.

A Wolfie trophy sitting on turf in the Wellness and Recreation Center

Ditching their typical work attire of officiating stripes, athletic apparel and swimwear, the Wellness and Recreation team arrived at the 2023 Wolfies Award Ceremony in style. This annual event, made possible by generous donations to the Wellness and Recreation Enhancement Fund, is a celebration of the many achievements of the student team throughout the year.

The top award of the evening is the John F. Miller Award, named for the first Physical Education and Athletics department head and the creator of the first intramural sports program at NC State. This award recognizes a top student and program assistant within Wellness and Recreation that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, professionalism, a commitment to leading a healthy, active lifestyle and a positive representation of the department.

The 2023 John F. Miller Award Winner is Joanna Wenchell, program assistant for member services. Joining the department in 2020 as a facility assistant, one of her nominators wrote of Wenchell, “[She] not only cares about the success of her own team, but the overall success of the organization, and through her actions, has persevered through the challenges of the past three years to develop an outstanding team, provide unmatched service and inspire others to care about the service that we provide to the NC State community.” 

Joanna Wenchell '23 (left) and Eric Hawkes, executive director of Wellness and Recreation (right)
Joanna Wenchell ’23 (left) and Eric Hawkes, executive director of Wellness and Recreation (right)

Remarking on this recognition, Wenchell shares, “Winning the John F. Miller award is an honor for me. This award represents all of the hard work that has gone into Member Services in the past couple of years to create a team and culture of excellent customer service, critical thinking skills and confidence. [It] represents the culture and team that I was lucky to have contributed to fostering and the positive impact Wellness and Recreation has had on me as a whole!” 

When asked about how Wellness and Recreation has made an impact on her experience here at NC State, she said, “Working [here] had one of the largest impacts in the best way possible. I was able to develop as a person as much as a professional. WellRec has allowed me to meet some of my best friends throughout college and allowed me to create some of my best memories. It has given me the chance to become more confident in myself as an individual and provided countless opportunities to develop my leadership skills, public speaking abilities and provided overall experiences that will help me move into my next chapters post graduation. I am grateful for my time at Wellness and Recreation and it will always be a special place to me!” Upon her graduation this May, Wenchell will be working as a supply analyst in a rotational Supply and Operations Leadership Development Program for Pentair. 

The Wellness and Recreation Friends and Family Student Employee Scholarship was established to provide financial assistance to two undergraduate student employees who uphold the mission of the department, inspire the Wolfpack community to live active and well, are respected by their student peers for their leadership qualities and innovation, contribute to the success of the team, and serve as a role model for healthy and balanced living. This year’s scholarship recipients are Lily Palmer, a wellness coach and mental health first aid instructor, and Rachel Falkowski, group fitness instructor. Palmer, a psychology and criminology student, and Falkowski, studying textile engineering, both hold 4.0 GPAs and will be graduating in 2024. 

Lily Palmer ’24

Upon graduation, Palmer hopes to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in either clinical or forensic psychology, and shares, “​​This scholarship will aid in easing the monetary aspect of postsecondary education, allowing me to focus on making the most of my undergraduate learning and experiences. Furthermore, being awarded this scholarship affirms my hard work and dedication to Wellness and Recreation.”

Of her experiences working at Wellness and Recreation, Palmer remarked, “As a wellness coach, I have been able to gain applicable experience for my career. My roles as a coach and MHFA instructor have allowed me to positively impact the well-being of my peers. Providing support and making students feel heard has made me a better person, both personally and professionally. Being a student employee with WellRec has helped me become a more well-rounded, compassionate, and self-aware individual, and I am honored to display those qualities as a scholarship recipient.”

Rachel Falkowski ’24

Falkowski plans to return to her home state of Michigan following graduation, and hopes to work as a textile engineer with a focus on medical or safety textiles that will protect people and save lives. She states, “The WellRec Friends and Family Scholarship is such an honor to receive and I feel so fortunate to have been awarded it. This further enhances my love for the WellRec community that I am so incredibly happy to be a part of, and I feel that my dedication and enthusiasm for my work [here] has not gone unnoticed.”

When asked what the single most important thing is that she has learned from working with Wellness and Recreation, Falkowski states, “You never know what you can achieve unless you try it. I have felt so supported by the community and really feel like I have achieved a lot.” She adds, “Working as a group fitness instructor has been one of the greatest highlights of my time at NC State. I am always so uplifted teaching my participants or waving hello to the other instructors that create our group fit family. I am especially enthusiastic about bringing the new Strong Nation class format to the Wellness and Recreation center and the Strong Nation family that has been created by my dedicated participants.”

This year’s event also recognized 132 graduating seniors, including 13 students who have worked for Wellness and Recreation for four or more years:

  • Adonis Belton
  • Alex Cullinan
  • Ben Druhan
  • Ben Franklin
  • Taylor Gannon
  • Michael Gray
  • Raven Herail
  • Leo Jaffe
  • Jace Lord
  • Battle Nichols
  • Joanna Petterson
  • Bella Prigge
  • Jessie Richards

While all 650+ student team members make an impact on campus daily, the John F. Miller Award winner, Friends and Family Scholarships Award winners, and the Team Member of the Year Award winners are employees who exemplify what it means to be a successful employee and stand out among their peers. All current and past award winners can be found on the Wellness and Recreation employment page.