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MTSU center provides online ‘Campus Diaries’ outle...

MTSU center provides online ‘Campus Diaries’ outlet for student expressions

CHHS Untold Diaries graphic

An online project of MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services is empowering students to express their feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center, in partnership with UNTOLD Originals, has created the national pilot site for “Campus Diaries: Behind Every Smile,” a web portal for students to submit “diary entries” anonymously to help them feel less isolated and to enable them to share the ways they face their challenges.

A global storytelling movement that gives voice to the untold narratives of humanity, the UNTOLD project gives voice to a wide variety of experiences and vulnerabilities with the goal of bringing people together through what they share.

Cynthia Chafin, associate director for community programs, Center for Health and Human Services interim director

Cynthia Chafin

When COVID-19 first came to dominate the national and international conversation in March 2020, MTSU students were asked to submit posts to the “Campus Diaries” web portal. The project is ongoing with a film documentary and a podcast in the works and a photography exhibit planned for the MTSU campus according to health protocols.

Monica Hundley, a community and public health major from Knoxville, Tennessee, and a spring 2020 intern at CHHS, provided student input and perspective for the project. Hundley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in May 2020.

“MTSU student involvement will serve as a model that will be expanded to colleges and universities nationwide,” said Cynthia Chafin, associate director of CHHS.

In fact, the center is working on a grant proposal to provide technical expertise to those colleges and universities who would like to create their own web portals and other mental health activities.

Center for Health and Human Services logo“In addition to the mental health grant we implement with our campus partners, the ‘Campus Diaries’ project is just another way we can support the mental health and well-being of our students, particularly during this challenging time of ‘social distancing,’” Chafin said.

CHHS will provide a link connecting to the “Campus Diaries” on its website and reach out to faculty members, asking them to share the opportunity with students, and reach out to students through social media.

Dr. David Butler, dean of the College of Graduate Studies and vice provost for research

Dr. David Butler

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to support our students at MTSU and to give them an outlet to express themselves during an unprecedented challenging time in our nation’s history,” said David Butler, vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. 

Karen Shayne, founder and executive producer of UNTOLD, said she is thrilled to launch this pilot initiative through MTSU and the CHHS.

“With MTSU having students residing in all 95 Tennessee counties, the work we do will reflect a statewide effort to launch this amazing student-focused project,” Shayne said.

The Center for Health and Human Services facilitates projects, programs and research activities in important public health issues through collaboration with the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services and affiliations and partnerships.

For more information, contact Chafin at 615-898-5493 or cynthia.chafin@mtsu.edu or visit the center’s website at https://www.mtsu.edu/chhs. To access “Campus Diaries” for posting a writing, go to https://untoldproject.org/the-campus-diaries/. To learn more about UNTOLD, go to www.untoldproject.org.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


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