Cecilia "Cece" Chavez is an entrepreneurship and innovation sophomore from Cincinnati, Ohio who is taking an active role in making a positive impact on West Virginia University's campus.
When it came time for college, Chavez had the opportunity to tour WVU with a friend who was a year ahead of her and she admits it was love at first sight.
"It's not too far away, but it's not too close to home," she said. "I wanted to get out of my high school area and venture off and meet new people.
"I loved all of the different activities that were offered to students like me, specifically the Carruth Center
because I knew that coming here it might be something I would need. Another thing that drew me in was the first-year trips
through Adventure WV
and, when it came time, I did the Odyssey
trip. I made a lot of friends before classes started, which really helped me adjust to college and West Virginia."
Growing up with entrepreneurs in her family, she always knew she wanted to go into business and decided to also pick up a minor in finance.
Like Chavez, it's common for students to choose a business major if they have family or friends in a similar field.
However, after experiencing a pandemic and two student suicides in high school, she knew she wanted to advocate for mental health on campus so she founded the student organization, Clear the Stress, her freshman year.
"I saw the way that everyone suffered and I saw that they felt like there was nowhere to go get help and commit," she said. "In high school, at the time, there wasn't much I could do. I knew coming to college, I could try to make a difference.
"My goal was to create a safe and fun environment for people to get out of their dorm rooms or get out of their house and get away from their homework for an hour or so. Students can come to de-stress and do whatever they need to do. It's a non-commitment, no-fee club, so there's no stress for students to feel that they have to be there every Tuesday when we meet."
Unfortunately, it's no surprise that mental health concerns and challenges are on the rise.
According to a recent survey
, one in three college students experience anxiety and depression.
"Honestly, there are a lot of students who just randomly throughout the week can't get out of bed or have no motivation," said Chavez. "They just need a day to themselves or need to know they're not alone."
While there were already organizations and centers on campus providing mental health opportunities, Chavez created Clear the Stress
so that students can come whenever they need to and they can be be around like-minded peers.
"I knew coming here that there was a campus-wide center and other organizations," she said. "Personally, I also know what it's like to be in the position where I feel like I'm not struggling enough to seek actual health advice or schedule an appointment with a therapist. Therefore, I figured by making this club, it will give other students an opportunity to see that they're not the only ones that are struggling with that."
Clear the Stress not only allows students to do what they need to do with others nearby (such as reading or listening to music), but the org also plans fun events (such as bowling, movie nights and tie-dye parties) and welcomes guest speakers throughout the semester.
Chavez is also teaming up with similar clubs to plan a WVU community event during the Fall 2023 semester.
In the meantime, studying for finals, searching for an internship or interviewing for a full-time job after graduation, is no easy feat. If you are feeling overwhelmed or would like to talk to someone, please reach out to the Carruth Center
today or to a peer.
To learn more about the student organization or the upcoming event, please connect on Instagram @clear_the_stress
CONTACT: Shelby Hudnall
John Chambers College of Business and Economics