“It’s important that people with mental health concerns have someone to listen to them,” says marketing and business intelligence and analytics (BIA) double major from Santa Monica, California, Collin Valdivia, BSBA’19. “We as listeners do not have to fix the problem, but we can be an outlet for them. We can also encourage them to seek professional help and eventually fix the issue at hand.”
Valdivia is a member of Creighton’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), serving on its leadership team as a representative of the men’s soccer program. The SAAC is involved in NCAA legislation, community outreach and campus engagements, says Valdivia, who is also a member of the BIG EAST SAAC.
As such, Valdivia has traveled to different BIG EAST schools for the past two summers to participate in the conference’s Mental Health and Well-Being Forum. It’s a big commitment, he says, but one that can make a huge impact.
“At the BIG EAST, we want to help end this stigma surrounding mental health,” says Valdivia. “As student-athletes, we are more visible and thus should use our platform to normalize conversations around mental health issues.”
Initially, talking openly about his feelings was a bit foreign to Valdivia. He says that sharing emotions is often viewed as showing weakness within his Mexican-American community and thus runs counter to the values of a heritage that advocates strength and tenacity in the face of adversity.
“The forum has helped me not to judge others because we are all going through things, as well as helped me learn that it is OK to not be OK,” Valdivia says. “Ending the stigma is important for everyone.”
At this year’s forum, a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conducted a Mental Health 101 seminar, educating the audience on common mental health conditions and their attending symptoms, as well as ways to help those suffering from these illnesses. Listening is central to NAMI’s recent awareness campaign, #IWillListen.
Valdivia, who studied both marketing and business intelligence and analytics as an undergraduate student, is grateful for the opportunities he has had to compete on the soccer field and excel in the classroom. He will continue to play for the Bluejays during the 2019-2020 academic year when he begins the MBA program at the Heider College of Business.
Academically, he believes the relationships that exist between faculty and students drive the latter’s success. Students feel comfortable exploring theory and sharing their thoughts openly in class. Outside the classroom, he will never forget the first time he started for Creighton, when the Bluejays took on St. John’s. The match ended in a 2-2 tie, but playing at Morrison Stadium and hearing the fans cheer on the Jays left an indelible mark.
As a graduate of Loyola High School and now Creighton, Valdivia is excited to continue his time with the Jesuits. Their call to “go out and act” has formed him as a person, he says, and is integral to his Creighton experience.
It’s a lesson he has evidently learned well. Valdivia earned the Creighton men’s soccer Bluejay Player of the Year award for exemplifying the values of Creighton and completing the most service hours. He was also a recipient of the Creighton Athletic Department’s True Blue Award for embodying what it means to be a Creighton student-athlete.