Miss Homecoming has been a popular Auburn tradition since 1937. Five candidates champion their various causes over the course of a week, and Auburn students vote for the one they connect with most.
Taylor Wesley, this past year’s Miss Homecoming, spent the week promoting the importance of mental wellness on Auburn’s campus. Her platform personally affects thousands of people on our campus, and she’s been working to raise awareness for quite a while. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with her at the Recreation and Wellness Center to talk about her passion for mental wellness and the steps she’s taken to promote it.
Be Well: Who nominated you for Miss Homecoming and why?
Taylor Wesley: I was nominated by the SGA because they saw how passionate I am about the mental health platform. I served as their health and wellness director—a position that ensures Auburn is providing proper resources for students and that people are aware of these resources. I applied for the position because of my personal experience with mental health.
BW: Describe your role as Miss Homecoming.
BW: Through Miss Homecoming, I have a platform to discuss this issue. Mental illness affects 25 percent of people. I often get to speak about the importance of mental health and help organize events to promote it. For example, I recently worked with the president of Active Minds to promote Mental Wealth Week. This specific campaign was themed Reasons I Speak, and students were encouraged to post on social media about why they spoke up for mental wellness. Also, my platform goes along with my position in SGA, and this year’s Health and Wellness focus has been mental health.
BW: Why is your platform so important to you?
TW: I’ve personally struggled with mental illness. Other students spoke up and gave me the courage to seek help. I realized I wasn’t the only one struggling. I went through it for a reason, and I have a choice of how to deal with it— I can either feel sorry for myself, or I can share my struggles to help others. People need to know they aren’t alone.
BW: Mental wellness can often be misunderstood. How do you define it?
TW: Mental wellness is a state of mental well-being where an individual can contribute to his or her community.
BW: How can mental wellness and physical wellness work together?
TW: In my own life, my struggles with mental illness hurt my physical health—I was unmotivated to take care of myself. Now, I work out about five times a week. Not only does it help me stay in shape, but it helps me to relieve stress.
BW: What's your favorite thing about The Rec?
TW: I love The Rec, and I’m there all the time. I ran cross country in high school, so I especially love running on the track. I also enjoy climbing on the ladder machine and playing basketball.
BW: How do you think The Rec can best help your platform?
TW: It’s very important for students to have a mutually beneficial relationship between mental health and physical health. It’s called the Recreation and ‘Wellness’ Center for a reason—it shows how much Auburn cares about students’ health and their well-being. Such nice resources are provided for students to take care of their bodies, and students should take advantage of that.
BW: What advice would you give to someone seeking mental wellness?
TW: Seeking help is the biggest step. Oftentimes, people are too scared to seek help and think people will look down on them, but in reality, it’s a sign of bravery. It’s so important to be open and honest with your peers and, if necessary, with a professional. If you’re seeking professional help, be open to their suggestions. I know seeking help can be scary, but don’t be ashamed. You’re doing something that is so good for your body and your mind.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Julia B.
Every day is an Auburn Adventure for Cassie as she lives "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Cassieness."
Her favorite ways to stay active include daily treks to class, playing volleyball or tennis, spontaneous dancing, and taking advantage of the Recreation and Wellness Center.
Cassie enjoys expressing herself through creative stories with endings that may only be revealed in 140 characters or less.