Thriving, Not Surviving through StrongU

by Katie Gates in Impact

Program powered by The Strong Movement encourages collegiate Alpha Phis to thrive, not just survive

Ailis Garcia (center) founded The Strong Movement to empower women to be their best selves and to build a Strong Body and Strong Mind in the process.

Alpha Phi is deeply committed to the overall well-being of its members, especially as they navigate the challenges and triumphs of collegiate life. With mental health reemerging as a prominent issue amongst young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alpha Phi connected with The Strong Movement to add StrongU, a first-of-its-kind research-based well-being and resilience program, to the Stand Together Series. Founded by Ailis Garcia, StrongU applies the core tenets of positive psychology to today’s college experience. Thanks to the generosity of Foundation donors, the program is well on its way to helping thousands of Alpha Phis grow into the best version of themselves.

The Fall 2020 and 2021 Winter/Spring Healthy Minds Studies report that only 38% of college students reported positive mental health, with 41% screening positive for depression and 34% screening positive for anxiety. Recognizing the need of our undergraduate sisters, Alpha Phi launched an all-virtual, individually paced version of StrongU in Fall 2020 to meet the needs of Gen-Z members as they faced unprecedented and isolating times amidst a pandemic. Delivered through an 8-week program, the curriculum features weekly micro-lessons and modules on mental health and wellbeing, mindset, gratitude, resilience, strengths, confidence, self-compassion, and positive relationships. Featuring an online community to connect all participating members across North America, StrongU’s proactive approach provided members with the tools to thrive together, even while they remained apart. As members returned to an in-person chapter experience, StrongU now offers a chapter-wide version with small group breakouts to foster deeper bonds amongst sisters.

Members of the Theta Mu chapter at Hofstra University

Since its launch, StrongU has made a clear impact on participating Alpha Phis, helping more sisters, like those in the Theta Mu chapter at Hofstra University, find more ways to take care of themselves, and each other, and become more optimistic, self-compassionate, and confident. Opting in for the chapter-wide curriculum, StrongU offered the chapter an outlet to come together to discuss more serious topics and work on their mental and physical health in a safe, supportive environment. “Without StrongU our chapter would have never experienced some of the amazing conversations we have had that have left a strong impact on our sisters and furthered our bond with one another,” shared former Chapter President, Kirsten Cecora (Theta Mu–Hofstra). “Since the conclusion of StrongU the openness and safe space [in our chapter] has stayed consistent.”

With over 1,000 members and counting taking part in the program since its launch, chapter leaders are now encouraged to integrate StrongU into their new member programs, ensuring its lessons remain relevant and well-integrated into collegiate chapter culture. And through the flexibility provided through the Leading With Heart campaign, StrongU has already evolved and introduced a 4-week curriculum better suited to the demands of a busy college schedule. By equipping more members with tangible tools and practical skills to cope with challenges and learn and grow from situations more effectively, the partnership between Alpha Phi and StrongU develops resilient women who do not just survive their collegiate experience but flourish and thrive.

Want to help more Alpha Phis thrive now and well into the future? Consider a gift to the Leading With Heart campaign! Learn more about this monumental effort and pledge your support before its conclusion at Convention 2022 in June.

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