ASU graduate facilitates Talking Circles program to help peers manage stress
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.
Cora Souffront is concerned about the health and well-being of her peers. So much so that as a student at Arizona State University, she collaborated with the American Holistic Nurses Association, or AHNA, chapter on a project to help students on the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses reduce their stress.
Souffront will graduate ASU in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in integrative health and with honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. She facilitated a program called Talking Circles and created a digital toolkit to replicate them on other university campuses as her honors thesis titled “Implementing Student Support Talking Circles: A College Campus Toolkit.”
Talking Circles are a series of holistic wellness experiences where students support and normalize balancing the art of caring for self and caring for others, said Dr. Dawn Augusta, clinical associate professor in the ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, who served as Souffront’s thesis director.
Augusta said Souffront was an integral member of the AHNA student chapter and took the AHNA Practice Grant-Talking Circle Initiative to the next level through her honors thesis work.
“Her insights in addressing self-care themes for multi-disciplinary student populations highlights her ability to consider perspectives other than her own,” Augusta said.
Souffront, who is from Minneapolis, received the ASU New American University Scholarship Provost Distinction Award. She maintained a 4.06 GPA and completed her undergraduate degree in three years.
She plans to attend the University of Minnesota to pursue a Master of Arts in integrative health and well-being coaching. She also wants to attend naturopathic medical school to become a naturopathic doctor and work in private practice.
We asked Souffront to reflect on her ASU experience.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I first fell in love with the field of psychology in my Advanced Placement Psychology class in high school. However, it wasn’t until the biological bases of behavior unit that psychology really piqued my interest. Through this unit, I began to put together the nature of mind-body connections and therefore understand the role of the mind when it comes to health and well-being.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: One major lesson I learned while at ASU is the importance of self-care in regards to stress management and academic performance. During my first two years, I certainly implemented self-care but only when I was stressed. After being continually burnt out, I realized that self-care and stress management strategies have to be incorporated into my daily routines. Once I learned this lesson, I noticed my academic performance as well as my health were significantly improved.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I was first interested in ASU because of its psychology program, which is ranked in the top 10% in the country. In addition, I chose ASU because of my admission to Barrett, The Honors College. And lastly, the decision process was also aided by the fact that I wouldn’t have to experience Minnesota winters for a few years.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Dr. Dawn Augusta has been my mentor and thesis director this past year, and she has taught me many important lessons. However, the most valuable lesson she has taught me has been the importance of support and community. We are never truly alone, as we have so many people in our corner rooting for us and cheering us on along the way.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to students?
A: My best piece of advice to those still in school would be that although you’re here to study and learn, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, and explore as much as possible.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: The Secret Garden, hidden between Dixie Gammage Hall and West Hall on the Tempe campus.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
I would strive for health equity by tackling the health disparities that exist as a result of social determinants such as class, race, gender, age, ability, etc.