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The Wellness and Resilience Summit will be held on Feb. 18 at Gutmann College House.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Wellness at Penn and Penn’s Positive Psychology Center partnered to host the Dowd/Sanders Wellness and Resilience Summit, teaching strategies for students to manage stress and strengthen relationships.

During the Resilience Summit, students learn to juggle the demands of student life, increase well-being, meet academic goals, and launch a career post-Penn. The first fill-day iteration was held in Gutmann College House on Feb. 4 and had about 50 attendees. The second iteration will be held on Feb. 18. 

According to the Wellness at Penn website, the event provides an opportunity to meet other Penn students and share experiences. It was funded by the Pamela and Arthur Sanders Family Foundation.

Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said that each iteration of the Resilience Summit is adapted to meet the expectations that students have for acquiring life skills to make them more successful and “allow them to thrive not only on campus, but beyond.”

Students listened to a four-part presentation from Positive Psychology Center instructors that focused on building an optimistic mindset, avoiding thinking traps, conjuring positive emotions, and multiplying joy. Each part of the presentation included open-floor discussions and small group discussions that allowed students to meet new people and share ideas, as well as bond over shared experiences. 

During the optimism presentation, students were encouraged to self-assess optimism levels and come up with an “optimism cue” that would remind them to be optimistic in the face of adversity. The thinking traps section went over different types of “faulty thinking” and taught skills to help overcome them.

First year Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. student Shrey Patel said he attended “learn strategies to develop a thriving mindset” in order to support himself on his Ph.D. journey. He took away “robust strategies of optimism” from the open floor discussions.

In previous semesters, Wellness at Penn has offered a series of shorter wellness and resilience workshops held in various locations, with virtual opportunities available as well.

“Each time we’ve tried something a little bit new because we’re trying to find the thing that works best for Penn students. Ultimately, there’s probably no one thing that works best for Penn students. Continuing to offer this in a variety of formats makes it accessible to more people,” Executive Director Public Health and Wellbeing Ashlee Halbritter said.

Licensed clinical psychologist and Positive Psychology Center instructor Judy Saltzberg further emphasized the importance of making Penn students "feel like they're thriving in the college environment."

'“We have a desire to help [students] deal with their stressors better but also to live life as fully as possible,” Saltzberg said.

She added that her team and Wellness at Penn will listen to the feedback of students and continue to improve the program for the future.

Xueying Lyu, a fourth-year bioengineering Ph.D. student, said she hoped that this semester's program would help her develop the skills needed to cope with overthinking. Lyu said that she enjoyed the group discussions and felt like she was “making friends and meeting new people,” as well as bonding over similar problems.

Students can sign up for the last day of the Resilience Summit at this link.