A Day in the Life: Student Wellness Assistant McCartney Derington Puts Passion Into Practice

Published on January 09, 2024

By Lexie McClendon

Senior food and nutrition major, McCartney Derington, puts her passion for health and wellness into practice daily at EKU. Derington has been involved with the Student Food and Nutrition Association since her freshman year and was hired onto the Campus Recreation wellness team as a wellness peer educator last year. Over the summer, Derington was promoted to a wellness program assistant and considers her work with the wellness team an integral part of her Eastern experience. 

“I love the close-knit community that the Student Recreation Center gives you. I don’t dread going to work, and I don’t find going to work to be a chore. It’s something that I get to do every day. While working here, I’ve really found my passion that I want to develop into a career, which is public wellness,” Derington said. 

As a wellness program assistant, Derington’s responsibilities include planning wellness events. Recently, she helped plan and host the Recreation Center’s Fall into Wellness event, a semi-annual health and wellness fair for students. From contacting vendors to setting up decorations, Derington’s involvement in the planning and execution process helped foster skills in leadership, time management and flexibility. She said it was rewarding to see her efforts result in forged relationships between the student body and the campus recreation resources. 

“Fall into Wellness is there to engage students and give them access to our student organizations and different resources on campus they may not have known about. It’s for our team to connect with the student body and show them that we’re there to support them for whatever their needs may look like,” said Derington. 

When it comes to campus engagement and awareness, one of the more popular events hosted is craft night, where students are welcome to gather to craft and unwind. Derington said the Recreation Center team is flexible and conducive to a student’s work schedule, as they firmly believe in prioritizing healthy habits, such as studying and sleep. 

“They really emphasize mental health at the Recreation Center,” she said. 

Derington’s favorite part about being a wellness program assistant is seeing the positive impact of the wellness program events and activities. Since Derington started her position a little over a year ago, the wellness team has seen an overall increase in student retention and student engagement at their events. 

Derington begins her day on campus by 7:15 a.m. and studies until her classes begin at 11 a.m. After roughly three hours of classes, Derington heads straight to work. While she might not always know what new projects await her at the Recreation Center, some of her regular duties include scheduling, program planning and putting event details into Engage, Fusion and EKU Students Today. 

As Derington nears graduation, she plans to seize whatever opportunity is presented to her in the field of public wellness. Her time spent in the nutrition program has aligned well with her job at the Recreation Center, and both have given her a passion for her career post-graduation. 

“I came into my position as a wellness educator, and I loved it. I put everything I had into planning and executing the events. Flash forward eight months later, I’m now the program assistant. I get to plan more events and collaborate with on- and off-campus organizations. You never know the opportunities that will come if you just take that step,” said Derington. 

Eastern Kentucky University employs approximately 1,500 students throughout the academic year, making up about one-third of the total overall employment at the university. As the School of Opportunity and Employer of Choice, EKU offers a wide variety of student employment positions, providing students with valuable learning experiences beyond the classroom. Learn more about student employment opportunities at EKU.