Seiner awarded ABA’s 2012 Law Student Wellness Award
By Peggy Binette, email@example.com, 803-777-5400
Megan Seiner, director of student affairs, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Law Student Wellness Award. The award, given by the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Law School Assistance Programs, acknowledges significant contributions to foster positive mental and physical wellness among law students.
“We’ve worked to create a community of support at the USC School of Law,” said Susan Palmer, associate dean for student affairs. “Megan is very tapped into the student population and her door is always open. She is an important part of a diverse team that offers different styles and approaches in the support and attention we provide students. Megan is a wonderful part of that.”
In recent years the ABA has expanded its outreach on mental health, substance abuse and wellness for the profession to include law schools. Locally, that mission is being realized through the S.C. Bar’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers program and through a variety of educational and intervention programs at the USC School of Law.
At the USC School of Law, Seiner helps organize talks about wellness, managing stress and finding life/work balance as part of the school’s professionalism series, and she coordinates a number of “de-stress” activities during exam weeks in the fall and spring. Twice monthly, Beth Padgett, assistant director of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, offers open door chat sessions for students at the school. Barbara Jo Wofford-Kanwat, a 2009 USC law alumna, offers yoga, meditation and healthy eating as part of the ABA’s National Mental Health Day, held each year on March 27.
This fall the USC Counseling Center will offer “Let’s Talk” hours weekly at the law school to raise further awareness about wellness and to make services more accessible to law students. Palmer, who has worked in law school student affairs for 27 years, said the high stress associated with the law profession begins in law school, the result of students thrust into a more demanding and intellectually assertive academic environment that constantly challenges their thinking and provides little traditional academic feedback.
“The good news is that the stigma of mental health matters is lessening and that this generation is more open about seeking help,” said Palmer.
And for Seiner, it’s all about the students.
“Helping students is by far the best part of my job. I love working with them, and I really love assisting students one-on-one.
“The law school under Dean Wilcox has taken a student-centered approach. He wants to know how students are thinking and feeling and is committed to offering the best experience possible. It is a refreshing sense of purpose,” Seiner said. “This is what we are all about.”
Seiner will be honored Oct. 11 at the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs national conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.
A native of Somers Point, N.J., Seiner earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Catholic University and a law degree from the Rutgers School of Law–Camden. She was litigator for FEMA before joining the USC School of Law in 2007.
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