Eastern Michigan University's 'Enlighten U' Podcast explores the power of compassionate classrooms and guides campus-wide implementation strategies

Eastern Michigan University's 'Enlighten U' Podcast explores the power of compassionate classrooms and guides campus-wide implementation strategies

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Flinn Foundation to support its commitment to building compassionate classrooms. The grant, a testament to EMU's dedication to student well-being, will be featured in the latest episode of the university's podcast series, "Enlighten U."

The episode sheds light on the challenges students face in balancing academic and personal pressures. With the assistance of the Flinn Foundation grant, EMU is actively working towards creating an environment where students feel safe, supported, and understood.

Melissa Thrasher, executive director of media relations and podcast co-host, emphasizes the significance of compassion in daily encounters with students and people in general. "You never know what someone is going through, and compassion can go a long way. This segment is special because it offers simple solutions anyone can implement to ensure a person feels seen and heard."

Student support persistence has long been a priority at Eastern, having established several mental health programs, initiatives, and services. A campus-wide task force, Building a Community of Caring, was established in the fall of 2023 to develop and implement a strategic mental health action plan to improve all students' mental and behavioral health at EMU. The task force will partner with the JED Foundation for four years to develop and implement a strategic mental health action plan. 

The podcast episode, scheduled for release on Feb. 15, 2024, features Emerson Storlie, an EMU graduate student and advocate for creating compassionate classrooms. Storlie, pursuing a master's in higher education and student affairs, shares insights on the impact of compassion on academic success and offers practical tips for higher education professionals to enhance relationships with students.

Joining Storlie on the episode is Ronald Flowers, head of the Department of Leadership and Counseling at EMU, who played a pivotal role in securing the Flinn Foundation grant. Flowers, driven by a personal story of loss, passionately advocates for transforming classrooms to benefit student well-being. He provides valuable tips and resources for professors and staff to implement in creating a supportive and compassionate learning environment.

Future episodes of “Enlighten U” will address mental health in student-athletes, social media harms, ADHD, imposter syndrome, grading anxiety, adjustment to campus life, social justice, and more.

For more information about “Enlighten U,” contact Lolita Cummings at lcummin2@emich.edu and Melissa Thrasher at mthrashe@emich.edu. Email messages with guest and topic suggestions can also be sent to Enlighten_U@emich.edu. “Enlighten U" is available on all major podcast streaming services and EMU's YouTube Channel. The next episode will air Thursday, Feb. 15. 

About Enlighten U
“Enlighten U” is an Eastern Michigan University-produced podcast for college students as they experience unique stressors, including academic pressures, personal growth, social challenges, and more. EMU executive director of media relations and social media Melissa Thrasher and EMU public relations professor Lolita Cummings serve as co-hosts. Each episode is released each month and welcomes a student or alum and a subject-matter professional. Episodes of “Enlighten U” address mental health topics like imposter syndrome, financial strain, grading anxiety, adjustment to campus life, social media harms, social justice, and more.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

About the JED Foundation
The JED Foundation is the largest non-profit organization in the country, focusing on the protection of mental health and suicide prevention of teens and young adults. Founded in 2000, the foundation has partnered with over 500 colleges and high schools, touching the lives of over five million students. The Flinn Foundation grant funds, along with matching funds from the University, will be used to support the four-year efforts of the task force to build a campus community of compassion, well-being, equity, and social justice, improving the health of the people who live, learn, work and play on our campus. 

February 13, 2024

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher