ALUMNUS Spring 2022 - Mississippi State University

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GIVING Back

CHANGING TOMORROW Alumna creates scholarship focusing on mental health By Ashleigh Lee, Photos Submitted

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ndrea Pierson wants to change the perception of mental health on college campuses and around the world. Coming to Mississippi State University after graduating from the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s in recreational therapy, Pierson knew that she wanted to combine her love of helping people and athletics. Joining the sports administration master’s program, she worked as an academic adviser with men’s basketball, softball and football student-athletes. “I love working with students and helping them figure out life,” Pierson said. “We always see people helping studentathletes with their physical well-being, but it’s important for us to also help with their mental well-being. People don’t get to see what these athletes’ lives are like after a game or competition. Working as an academic adviser allows me to be a person for my students to come to whenever they are off the field or court.” After graduating in 2017 with a master’s degree, the Troy, Ohio, native accepted a job at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque as an academic adviser for its football, softball and women’s golf studentathletes. Here, she found her calling—a career she loved through which she could work long term to affect more significant change in the lives of others. As she met and began developing connections with student-athletes from different backgrounds and with different skill sets, she could see the drive and determination they all had to do well. However, as more and more student-athletes began coming into her office to talk with her about their struggles, she realized their mental health was being overshadowed by

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S PR ING 2022

All proceeds from the sale of Tomorrow Needs You merchandise go toward the Tomorrow Needs You Scholarship. Items include T-shirts, hoodies and stickers.