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Wellness Center peer educator, advisor honored

By Amelia Schoeneman '12
May 3, 2012

St. Olaf Wellness Center peer educator Anna Johanson '12 (left) and coordinator Emily Virtue recently earned recognition for their work to restructure the center's programs.

The BACCHUS Network recently recognized St. Olaf Wellness Center peer educator Anna Johanson '12 and Student Wellness Coordinator Emily Virtue for their work in promoting awareness and providing education on issues relating to healthy lifestyles.

Johanson earned the Outstanding Senior award and Virtue was named Outstanding Advisor for the BACCHUS Network Area 4 Conference. Johanson was also inducted into the the Hall of Peer Educators.

BACCHUS is a nonprofit organization that addresses health and safety issues through a network of 700 peer educator groups on college campuses nationwide. The BACCHUS Network Area 4 Conference includes colleges and universities in Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Outstanding Senior award honors peer educators who have left a legacy through years of service and impact on their campus. Outstanding Advisors must also demonstrate commitment through years of service and contributions to the program, as well as proven leadership.

In the three years Johanson and Virtue have worked at the Wellness Center, they have taken charge of efforts to restructure the center's programs. Virtue trains peer educators to work with students one-on-one about health concerns and create engaging, useful programming for the student population. She has worked to recruit peer educators who have a passion for health and wellness and want to work together as a team to make an impact on campus.

Johanson, one of Virtue's first peer educators, played an instrumental role in envisioning how the Wellness Center could better serve students. Peer educators now host a wide array of campus events each month that inform students about the benefits of exercise, sexual responsibility, alcohol awareness, and financial health.

With the changes, students rely on the Wellness Center's resources more than ever before. "Sometimes peer educators are the first people students reach out to for help, and it's rewarding to know that they are providing care and concern for their fellow Oles," Virtue says.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or