So many students are hanging on by a thread, they have such unique lives...there is so much going on outside of the classroom, it’s critical that we supply them with resources.
Now a proud Bridgewater State University Double Bear and faculty member, Christine Semler, ’06, G’11, felt lost when she first arrived at BSU.
“I was supposed to play softball at another school,” she said. “I got injured and transferred to Bridgewater. I was a lost athlete but found my way because of my mentors, it’s part of the reason why I came back to (coach) and teach.”
As a student-athlete, Semler found herself more often in the training room than on the playing field. She would soon learn why.
“I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, it’s a rare condition that kept causing my tendons to tear, I couldn’t function,” Semler said.
When it became clear that her career as a student-athlete was over, Semler struggled in terms of her mental health.
“My entire identity was student-athlete,” she said.
As she worked through a myriad of emotions, a new path revealed itself, one where she could apply her knowledge as an athlete and leader to help others.
She earned a degree in psychology in 2006 then followed it up with a master’s in clinical psychology in 2011.
In between she also began a coaching and teaching career. Semler spent two years as the head softball coach at Massasoit Community College before taking over the reins as BSU’s head softball coach in 2013.
During her tenure, the team went 92-64 over four years, with a trip to the NCAA Div 3 Super Regionals where the Bears lost to Tufts University.
Semler also started teaching at Bridgewater within the Counselor Education Program, helping mentor students just as former BSU faculty helped her.
“Being assessable to students is important to me,” Semler said. "So many students are hanging on by a thread, they have such unique lives...there is so much going on outside of the classroom, it’s critical that we supply them with resources.”
That can be as simple as helping a student locate the Wellness Center, where there are counselors available or even just taking five minutes after class to ask them what’s going on in their lives.
“These things make a world of difference,” she said. “I know it did for me as a student when my professors showed me that they cared. Not only does it help with retention, but ultimately benefits our students and they will come out better than they started.”
As another way to reach students, Semler recently collaborated with Lululemon’s Global Ambassador program to bring a day of “Movement for Mental Health” to BSU.
Throughout the day, mental skill building sessions and events were offered, including a trail-running workshop that exposed students to the Great Hill Trails, located behind the Adrian Tinsley Center.
“Events like this create more awareness and show that supports for mental health are more accessible and approachable than what students might think,” Semler said. “We have resources here at BSU and can help you seek out those resources because we want you to be the best version of yourself.”
Making connections, being part of a community, it all helps.
“It’s an honor and privilege to serve our students and make those connections,” Semler said. “Sometimes all you need is to be heard, that you matter and belong.”
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