University of Montana Western student wellness coordinator Lexi Benson was recently named a 2016 Outstanding Advisor by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Each year NASPA awards five Outstanding Advisors from across the nation.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Established in 1918 and founded in 1919, the organization is comprised of over 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and eight U.S. Territories.
“It’s an honor to have been recognized by NASPA for my work in promoting student health and safety,” Benson said. “The recognition is even more meaningful because I was nominated by a student I work with.”
Benson was nominated for the Outstanding Advisor award by senior Brandon Piazzola, who has worked with her as a member of Montana Western’s peer education program, PATH (Peers Advocating Towards Health.)
“As a former Montana Western student, Lexi has the unique ability to understand the UMW community,” Piazzola said in his nomination letter. “This allows her to easily connect with students and identify the needs of the student population.”
Benson recently traveled to Kansas City, MO to attend the 2016 BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA General Assembly where she received the award. She attended the conference with student members of PATH, Brandon Piazzola and Joey Paulsonmorgan, who presented on Montana Western’s tobacco-free policy, compliance and other programs and events on campus.
Benson has been involved with NASPA Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students (BACCHUS) Initiatives for four years and has served as the Montana state coordinator for three years. The BACCHUS mission is to support student leadership in promoting health and safety and saving students’ lives.
She has served as Montana Western’s student wellness coordinator since 2013. In that capacity she acts as an advisor for PATH. Montana Western’s program currently has nine peer educators who are focused on educating fellow students about being safe and healthy during their time in college and beyond.
“Lexi is a great resource for our students when dealing with health and wellness choices,” Dean of Students Nicole Hazelbaker said. “She has grown and improved the PATH program from two to seven students, when the national average for a campus our size is three to four students. It’s a pleasure working with Lexi every day and we’re proud of her national recognition.”
Benson is in charge of the university’s health promotion programs, including tobacco prevention, alcohol risk management, sexual health, nutrition and fitness, and the annual health and wellness fair.
In addition, she oversees two grants at Montana Western, Montana Collegiate Tobacco Prevention (MCTPI) and Rape Prevention Education (RPE). MCTPI seeks to educate students about the dangers of tobacco use and RPE is focused on rape prevention and educating students on healthy relationships and consent.
Benson graduated from Montana Western in 2011 with a business administration and health and fitness management degree. She earned her masters in health promotion from Texas A&M-Commerce.
— Montana Western —