Marian Kay Avant: Chair of the Stay Healthy Ambassador Program (SHAP)

Marian Kay Avant is the Stay Healthy Ambassador Program’s (SHAP) chair and marketing and outreach coordinator. I was fortunate enough to ask her a couple of questions about the new program at FSU and provide information on how to join. 

Her Campus (HC): Can you tell me a little bit about the program and what it wishes to accomplish?

Marian Avant (MA): We want the students at Florida State, the peers, to set an example. To encourage healthy behaviors while we’re going through this pandemic. So we’re hoping by having virtual calls and having an on-campus intervention, that there is a place that students can go to with their COVID concerns and questions, as well as opening it up to those families that have questions or concerns. Whether it is to know what the process is or what is to happen should a student test positive. This program is really just about being that voice, that liaison between the administration at FSU and the student body. 

HC: So I understand that [SHAP] is partnering with the Health and Wellness Center, but I also know that the program is looking for volunteers. So is this program mostly student-run?

MA: I do work for the Health and Wellness Center. I sit on the leadership team. I’m the marketing and outreach coordinator, so myself and the director at UHS, we’re both co-chairs with this program, but it is student-run. Morgan Barnes is our lead ambassador and so SHAP is actually a sister program from SHAC, which is our Student Health Advisory Committee. Those students do the same thing as we are planning to do with SHAP. So yes, it is a peer-to-peer program and our hope is that our message will get out as the students are out wearing their face coverings, promoting these healthy behaviors, that in turn, their peers will do the same. 

HC: You said that SHAP is a sister program with SHAC. Do you think this program is here to stay or is it temporary with the pandemic?

MA: I hope that it’s here to stay. Even though we’re currently in the COVID-mode right now with the pandemic, there’s always flu, so there can always be information to go out about flu season or cold season or any other type of health topic. While right now the main focus is COVID, I foresee this program will shift in the future and we can cover other health-related topics. 

HC: How many volunteers do you have so far and are you looking for more?

MA: Right now we are at a little over 90 volunteers, but we are absolutely looking for more. We will welcome on as many volunteers that would like to join us. We will not turn anybody away.

HC: Where can students go to volunteer?

MA: Students can go to the website, which is uhs.fsu.edu, where there is a SHAP link there that will take them to the SHAP website. On there, there is an interest form that can be completed. Once that interest form is completed, then Morgan, our lead ambassador, will reach out and provide students with some information on how to complete the training on Overview. Once they complete the training on Overview, students will receive a certificate of completion in Canvas. After that, students will be able to sign up for virtual and on-campus events. 

HC: Will there be any events on Landis that students can be looking forward to?

MA: For right now, we are trying to stay away from doing events and having large gatherings. We have a home base at the integration statue, where the ambassadors can, throughout their time on campus, whatever their shift is, always report back to that home base to get water or the ‘stay healthy’ kits that the program is providing, but actual gathering and events, no. I do know that we are in talks with expanding and doing some other things. I’m not sure what all that is going to entail, but hopefully, we can get involved with things like the football games so we can be that resource to remind people that if we all do our part, then we can all stay well. 

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