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Adult student starts organization to encourage exercise and health at Simmons


Sometimes being an adult undergraduate student leaves little time to get involved on campus. Many adult students have family and job responsibilities outside of class. But, adult student Melissa Tanguay '14 found a way to bring her outside interests to campus. She recently started "Fit at Simmons," an organization aimed at encouraging students to incorporate health and fitness into their every day lives. We sat down with Melissa to pick her brain about what it's like to be an adult student and what she hopes for for "Fit at Simmons."

Why did you decide to return to college as an adult student, and why Simmons?

Before coming to Simmons I worked for 10 years in animal welfare, but several years ago I discovered a love for running and triathlon. With that came a genuine excitement for trying to help those around me integrate fitness into their own lives to help with their heath and wellness. For example, at my last job, I formed a running group to help my coworkers tackle their first 5K road race.

This encouraged me to pursue a degree in Exercise Science to launch myself on a new career path. Being an adult returning to college for my second degree, I ultimately chose to attend Simmons College because the Dix Scholars program seemed like the perfect fit for students like me.

What is campus life like for an adult student?
It's certainly different than when I went to college for the first time! As an adult commuter student, there isn't the same social aspect that comes with living on the residence campus. However, because Simmons is a small, tight-knit community, it still gives plenty of opportunity to make important connections with other students, faculty and staff.
What made you decide to start "Fit at Simmons"?
Fit at Simmons actually initiated itself through a generous grant by a former Simmons alumna, Nancy Gavin '58. Fit at Simmons is a new branch of Health Education, which offers a variety of programs including, interactive peer-led workshops; health awareness campaigns; and individual and group health, wellness, and nutrition counseling. This new fitness component to health education is a natural fit since it is so integral to a healthy lifestyle. With the support of Director of Health Education Priyanka Jain, I'm just trying to get it off the ground and running (literally)!
What do you hope "Fit at Simmons" will do for the Simmons community?
Incorporating regular fitness in my life was really transformative for me. It helped me lose the 50 pounds I gained after going to college the first time; it made me more productive at work; it gave me the perfect outlet for dealing with any stress in my life; and it really improved my whole attitude and approach to life!

I would love for this program to be an avenue for others to discover how regular physical activity can bring to them the same positive benefits in a way that works for them. For me it was running and triathlon, but that isn't the answer for everyone. The motto of Fit at Simmons is to "Find Your Own Fit" which simply means that in order to make fitness a regular part of life, you have to figure out what type of fitness works for you.
In what other ways are you able to participate on campus as an adult student?
One of the things I see with the adult students, myself included, is that because we made a conscious decision to return to school to pursue a specific field of study, we are almost hyper-focused on the academic learning experience. While this certainly can't be underestimated, I've realized that there is so much more to having a well-balanced student experience. For me, being involved in health education is a way to become involved on campus and make personal connections outside of my studies.

I would encourage other adults students to do the same and find ways to become involved in groups on campus, and use the resources offered to them through Simmons -- whether it be joining a club, using the fitness center, the free nutrition counseling services on campus, really anything. These experiences serve to enhance our academic experience here and help maintain important skills that will be beneficial when we return to the work force after our studies.

To get involved or submit ideas and suggestions, email the Health Education Center at

Posted by Kellie Ryan
Category: Student Stories

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kellie Ryan published on March 30, 2012 9:25 AM.

Know Your Professor: Wanda Torres Gregory was the previous entry in this blog.

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