Empowering Healthy Aggies

Armed with education and her own student experiences, Marigold Hudock is changing the way Texas A&M students approach health and safety.

Most people define binge drinking as a certain behavior. They might assume it’s that person at the bar throwing back multiple tequila shots late into the night. But Marigold Hudock can tell you the scientific definition of binge drinking without hesitation. As as a health promotion specialist in the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University, it’s her job to know the distinction.

“Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that is going to bring your blood alcohol content to 0.08 or more, which is the legal limit for driving a vehicle. You can be binge drinking even in a short period of time. To get to a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more, it’s generally around four drinks for women and five drinks for men within two hours.”

Hudock advises a team of 12 student leaders who are managing a binge-drinking awareness campaign called LessThanUThink (LTUT). Guided by a national model that has been successful at 13 other college campuses, the month-long campaign uses polished, attractive designs and humorous expressions to deglamorize the nationwide issue of college-age binge drinking. It aims to share the definition of binge drinking as a guideline, not a judgement, and to create a conversation without preaching.

Hudock is hoping post-campaign assessment will show that the LTUT campaign, paired with Texas A&M’s Safe Spring Break events, may change student attitudes about drinking.

“Research shows that intimidation doesn’t work when you’re talking to college students about binge drinking,” Hudock said. “We focus on some of the irritating or embarrassing things that happen to students when they drink too much too fast, like sleeping through your best friend’s birthday party because you were too hungover to get up, or tripping in front of your girlfriend at a bar because you can’t walk. This approach is much more effective than scare tactics.”

LessThanUThink (LTUT)

LessThanUThink, a student-run, student-generated campaign, uses humor to emphasize the negative social and physical consequences of college-age binge drinking.

 

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San Antonio native Marigold Hudock, a health promotion specialist,
works with a team to help Texas A&M students with fitness, nutrition,
stress relief, time management, sexual health, and alcohol and/or
other drugs.

A path to student affairs

Addressing alcohol and drug prevention is just part of Hudock’s job with the Texas A&M’s Health Promotion team. She coordinates the Recovery Services Committee, which is dedicated to supporting Aggie students in recovery.

She may be only a year into her job at Texas A&M, but her academic and career experiences prepared her well for the challenge. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in Plan II and English (with a minor in educational psychology) from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Texas A&M. Advising student groups, violence prevention, and building and facilitating curriculum are Hudock’s areas of expertise.

“I know attending U.T. is kind of controversial around here,” she laughs, “but my time there inspired my interest in student affairs and eventually led me to Texas A&M.”

“I knew then that empowering students to create a safe, healthy college experience was my passion, and that program also taught me a lot about leadership, project management, and social justice.”

Marigold Hudock, Health Promotion Specialist

As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, Marigold Hudock (left) was a member of a competitive, all-female fencing team.

As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, she volunteered as an orientation adviser and worked part-time in the academic advising office, where she trained peer mentors. She studied abroad at Oxford University in England and was a member of an all-female fencing team that placed second at the national collegiate competition.

During her senior year, Hudock was involved in Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue, which uses applied theatre and performance to initiate conversations about relationships, consent, boundaries, and signs of power and control.

“We completed a semester-long course on the topic, and then created performances that were very participatory for the audience,” she said. “After acting out the scenes, we would stop to ask the audience for feedback. It’s a creative, engaging way to initiate conversations about consent and relationships.

“I knew then that empowering students to create a safe, healthy college experience was my passion, and that program also taught me a lot about leadership, project management, and social justice.”

Burnt orange turns maroon

Hudock applied to several masters programs in student affairs administration , but chose Texas A&M for its size, graduate assistantship offerings, and friendly campus. “When I came in for the interview, Texas A&M was just absolutely welcoming and wonderful, and I really had a good feeling about coming here.”

During her graduate program, Hudock advised class councils and other student groups, such as Fish Fest. She recalls working with the Class Councils Ambassador Team, which gives presentations about Aggie traditions. “Many of my students were shocked that someone from U.T. could do this type of job,” she said, “But I embraced the opportunity and drank the Kool-Aid quickly.”

In January 2017, her second year of graduate school, she began working full-time for Health Promotion while completing her master’s degree.

Hudock finds the work of empowering students to achieve their goals fulfilling and enjoys her colleagues, who she describes as “incredibly smart and full of wonderful ideas. “We’re all very close and supportive of each other,” she said. “In fact, this is the most supportive environment in which I have ever worked. No task is to small for anyone. We all pitch in when someone needs help, even when we’re all crazy busy. To have this chance to learn from my coworkers has been a valuable, broadening experience.”

After hours and into the future

Besides her West Campus office at White Creek, you can find Hudock at one of the local dog parks with Saucy, her “chunky and funky” basset hound, skating roller derby in Bryan, or exploring restaurants and events in the Brazos Valley.

When she looks back on the past year, Hudock marvels at how much she’s changed since being a college student. “Just one year into my job and already I’m finding myself doing things that would have freaked me out as a grad student,” she said. “I never would have imagined talking to students about their alcohol use, but now it’s something I do everyday.”

For Hudock, like most student affairs professionals, the job is much more than a paycheck. She encourages college students to make decisions that may keep them healthy, safe, and in many cases out of legal trouble.

“It really validates the work we’re doing here whenever a student walks away saying, ‘Thank you, Marigold. This was really helpful and I am going to do this in my everyday life from now on.’ Whenever I might be having a bad day at work, I remember those moments, and they make it all worthwhile.”

“Just one year into my job and already I’m finding myself doing things that would have freaked me out as a grad student. I never would have imagined talking to students about their alcohol use, but now it’s something I do everyday.”

Marigold Hudock, Health Promotion Specialist

Health Promotion

Offices of the Dean of Student Life Division of Student Affairs

We strive to support academic achievement and personal development by improving health outcomes of Texas A&M University students through education, outreach, and collaboration. Our services encompass a wide variety of topics such as fitness and nutrition, stress relief, time management, sexual health, and alcohol and/or other drugs.

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Story and photos by Sondra White ’87
Marketing Director
Division of Student Affairs

2018-05-03T15:17:29+00:00