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Resiliency Initiative aims to foster success

Coach Dana Duckworth spoke to students at the Resiliency Initiative gathering. CW | Nick Privitera

Nick Privitera

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Students involved in the new Resiliency Initiative met inside of Coleman Coliseum on Thursday, September 10, to listen to several speakers and tour the gymnastics locker room.

The Resiliency Initiative is a new program on campus this semester that aims to foster success in all aspects of life for students. Currently, freshmen and sophomore students can enroll in courses that will help them build their resilience.

“Resilience is this notion that you can have the ability to overcome obstacles,” said Dr. Margaret Purcell, executive director of the Resiliency Initiative.

Several speakers shared their stories with the students, including Women’s Gymnastics Head Coach Dana Duckworth, former coach David Patterson, student Yisel Ochoa and UA President Dr. Stuart Bell. Each spoke about what resilience means to them and where they have seen it in their lives.

Duckworth said to the students that everyone in life will fail at some point, and should fail, because failure is an opportunity to learn and be resilient. Patterson shared his story and offered insights on how to be resilient in life. To him, there are three important things students should do: find good friends, be prepared for tough times, and find the blessings in difficulty. He even added some humor to his speech.

“Not everyday is a sunny day, sometimes you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue,” Patterson said.

Ochoa shared a powerful story of her life: the struggles she faced and, eventually, the redemption she found. She was Expelled from 16 different schools because of daily fights. Ochoa’s extended family belittled her, leaving her with only her parents to rely on. At one point, she almost joined the notorious street gang Florencia 13. However, everything changed when she moved to Moreno Valley, California.

It was there she found the Ambassadors of Compassion program that would change her life. She learned how to forgive herself and others for the pain in her life. Ochoa went on to receive the 2013 Junior Lombardi Award and receive a scholarship to The University of Alabama.

“[My story] is something you guys could relate to and make something out of it,” Ochoa said.

The course paired with the Resiliency Initiative is offered through the Honors College and the Department of Communications Studies. Sixty-two students are currently enrolled in the course. The goal of the course is to increase prosocial, constructive behaviors and ideation. The Resiliency Initiative plans to add more courses in the spring, as well as courses for upperclassmen in the future.

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Resiliency Initiative aims to foster success