Meet Angella Lee
Hometown: Vancouver, Canada
College: Human Ecology
Major: Human Biology, Health and Society
Year: December 2022
Spotlight on Mental Health and Wellness
Promoting the health and well-being of all students is foundational for academic and life success. The Student Mental Health Collective works to advocate peer-to-peer discussion in the support and enhancement of student well-being, and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
As part of this discussion, SMHC is speaking to students from across campus to share experiences and helpful tips that support fellow Cornellians and fosters community around collective mental health on campus. This month, we highlight Social Wellness.
What does social wellness mean to you? Why is it important?
Social wellness is the idea that wellness is holistic, and many aspects of life contribute to my health and how I feel. Health encompasses not only physical health but also mental health, which is related to the quality of my social connections. As a pre-health student, I am pulled by all kinds of priorities—a need to have good grades, clinical experience, service to the community, and meaningful research. There’s only so much time in the day to do everything, but social wellness is the part that enriches my life with the people who matter, and who care about me.
When I have a hard time, my journal article will never sit down to listen to me or give me a hug—my best friends and my partner do. I would never be able to accomplish everything that I do without them, because they give me meaning. I wouldn’t feel safe exploring the world without them as my safety net, something to fall back on when everything is failing.
How have you found community at Cornell? What advice do you have for students?
Finding community at Cornell is hard. I take a lot of classes and have a lot of extracurricular activities both on-and off-campus, so it doesn’t leave much time for the “extra stuff” that includes socializing. Over my three years here so far, I’ve learned that I have to deliberately make time for community, by seeing it as a priority. Even if I’m feeling tired by the time I’m done with classes or lab, I still make time to go for dinner with friends, attend a club social, or go to office hours because I know that it makes me feel more connected in the long run.
During my first year at Cornell, I really missed my communities at home. I considered transferring out because I didn’t feel like I had meaningful connections, unlike those I had through high school. Especially through the pandemic, when classes were online, it was really hard to engage with my communities. There were days and weeks where I felt alone, despite being surrounded by classmates and fellow club members. After returning to campus, it still took time, and the process of deliberately putting myself out there did not pay off immediately. I realize now that I had already spent three years, or even 13 years, getting to know my friends from home, whereas I had only given my friends at Cornell a maximum of 2. Now, however, I’m lucky enough to say that I have wonderful friends and coworkers who I care deeply about. Shoutout to Bird Watchers Watchers, EARS, and the Human Ecology CEC!
How do you balance social connections with academics and other priorities in your life?
It’s not easy for the distribution of my time to look exactly like I want it to look. There was a point in sophomore year where I was extremely burnt out, and it felt like everything was slipping. It’s really important for me to give people my full attention and to be there when a friend needs support. However, I now know that part of the problem was that the people I was with weren’t right for me.
During sophomore year, I did not feel like my favorite version of myself when I was with my friends. Now, however, I have a better understanding of what I look for in my social connections so that they add to my life and do not feel like a burden. Instead, they complement my hobbies and academic life.
What clubs are you involved in?
EARS, the Human Ecology Career Exploration Center
What’s your favorite spot-on campus or place to hang out with friends?
Mann Library--it's all the plant-themed décor!
This series was developed on recommendations from Cornell's Mental Health Review.
A wide range of supportive resources are available at mentalhealth.cornell.edu for students in need. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. Students in need of professional mental health support can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 607-255-5155 and employees can call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673.