Serving others doesn’t mean forgetting about yourself. Just ask Abbey Green, ACU Online’s Student Wellness Manager and firm advocate for mental health awareness. Known for her spunky attitude and optimistic personality, Abbey understands that sometimes it can be hard to ask yourself questions about your feelings. How are you doing? Have you checked in with yourself? Are you allowing yourself to be open and honest? And while these questions might not be everyone’s forte, Abbey is always ready and eager to walk anyone through the wondrous process of seeking and finding reliable resources and aids to become their best selves in and out of the classroom. To her, that’s the ultimate goal: pushing students toward their success.
Purple and White All The Way
Since she could remember, Abbey always knew she wanted to serve people. Drawn explicitly to helping those with a different racial background or socioeconomic status than herself, Abbey remembers wanting a college experience to be something that would foster those internal desires to enact change. ACU proved a perfect fit. Even after obtaining two bachelor’s degrees in social work and sociology, Abbey recalls not wanting to leave Abilene just yet. Something was telling her to stay behind and continue in school. And so, she did just that. Deciding to continue her education with ACU, she pursued her Master’s in Social Work while being hired as a manager in the Student Residence Life department, where she could service incoming students.
Juggling the multiple responsibilities of wife, manager, and now graduate student, it didn’t take long for Abbey’s unique talents of serving and helping others to be tested. Within a year, she was offered an internal position as the Accommodations and Testing Specialist. Walking alongside students with disabilities to ensure their needs are met across campus, Abbey finally realized what she desperately wanted to do. She wanted to help students in need. And while she was still finishing her degree, Abbey began dreaming about what kind of job that would be.
Fast forward to 2020, and, like most, Abbey’s life shifted. She and her husband had moved from Abilene, TX, to Washington, D.C., for his law school endeavors, and Abbey remembers feeling off and slightly overwhelmed. Were her dreams of working with students over? There was only one way to find out.
“I just remember asking my boss like, ‘Hey, would it be possible to have some kind of hybrid role or remote role from D.C.?’ Because this was pandemic time, remember? So I was thinking, like, well, anything is possible, right? I can do whatever. So I asked and pitched by explaining that I would be able to work for both campuses,” Abbey says. “Crazy enough – they said yes! They told me to write a job description for myself and to just see what happens. Three weeks later, I had the job.”
Through this unlikely series of events, Abbey began working as the new Deputy for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator and Student Services Specialist for Online Education in the summer of 2020. She saw God’s hand constantly moving the moment she started at ACU Online. Abbey’s talents were quickly recognized, and over the next two years, her job responsibilities grew to include a part-time adjunct position and coordinating ADA requests for both campuses. Then, in July 2022, Abbey was offered the first-ever Student Wellness Manager position for ACU Online. She was shocked; she had landed the job of her dreams. And now, it was time to get to work. Reflecting on her nearly five years at the university since her graduation in 2018, Abbey smiles when explaining how her unique experience and professional development at ACU have allowed her to become who she is today.
“It’s been like a story of taking the next step and the next door opening some sort of relationship with someone else at ACU,” Abbey remarks. “It’s honestly been pretty cool and extraordinary to see it all come together now.”
Serving and Advocating for Students’ Mental Health
As the Student Wellness Manager, Abbey has made it her mission to respond and be as actively involved in her client’s requests and needs as possible. Even when she finds herself helping students through difficult situations like finding housing or pointing them toward a guidance counselor, Abbey has always tried to push herself into becoming a more perceptive advocate for students suffering in their mental health. Having started in this role in July 2022, Abbey is not afraid to admit that because supporting mental health in academics is fairly new, her office is ever-changing – and that’s okay.
“The role has definitely evolved quite a bit in the last ten months,” Abbey recalls. “I describe a lot of my work as overseeing disability services, supporting our students who are pregnant, advocating for students who are in difficult circumstances, and being the helping hand that many working students need in order to continue in school and finish their degree.”
Through it all, Abbey enjoys rolling with the punches that come her way – even if they’re hard to get through. Even if she’s assisting with a student withdrawal from the university or providing access to helpful resources because of their depressive or suicidal status, Abbey is always ready to lend an ear and ask the tough questions most are too afraid of.
“When I have a student who is going through something, I really like asking questions to understand better what they mean,” Abbey expresses. “I’ll just say something like, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What do you [the student] really want to do? What do you need? And how can I help make those things happen for you?’ So, it’s really a partnership. A lot of the work is partnerships with students and just doing what I can to make sure they feel cared for.”
If you ask Abbey why her role matters so much, she would answer pretty simply: students need reliable support. Abbey aims to view her students from multiple viewpoints and has realized that a student’s physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being directly affects all other aspects of their lives. Abbey believes in meeting each person where they’re at—employees, parents, and caretakers alike—on a case-by-case basis and taking her time to figure out their needs, wants, and desires. Rather than offering general answers or careless advice, Abbey constantly seeks to improve things for her students in whatever capacity she might have.
“Their lives are so busy and full. Like, they will ask, ‘How do I take care of myself? How do I have good mental health when everything else is really chaotic?'” Abbey says. “And that’s actually one of the things that I love the most about my job. It’s really trying to make mental health practical for students because I think and know school can feel really overwhelming. Many of these students don’t have the resources or money to go see a therapist all the time, so I need to be on my game, ready to offer whatever they might need.”
Becoming A More Active, Happy Supporter
Understanding that developing a good state of mental health is both a practice and a skill, Abbey really looks forward to helping her students clear their minds and hearts by suggesting simple tasks they can do daily without breaking the bank. Even something as simple as going for a walk or jotting down a list of what needs to be done that day can substantially improve her students’ lives. Interested in getting into the “nitty-gritty of the student’s internal issues,” Abbey is beyond grateful to have the opportunity to work with students across ACU.
“For me, I think my ultimate goal as the student wellness manager and as a professor is to leave this work better than I found it,” Abbey explains. “I want to make sure I made a good mark on this new office so that others can benefit from it as well.”
Looking back, Abbey really cherishes the memories she has made so far. From selecting ACU and meeting her husband to majoring in a ‘life-giving degree’ to now working with students on a daily basis, Abbey is hopeful for the future of the Student Wellness office. Aiming to expand and showcase its necessity for students and their families, Abbey’s main takeaway stems from her greater sense of empathy. As she’s learned to be more empathetic toward her students and herself, Abbey has gained a new appreciation for the importance of mental health. And whether she stays at ACU for five more years or flies off toward her next adventure, one thing’s for sure: her work will have a lasting impact for generations to come. And that’s the biggest thing that keeps her going.
If you are looking for this type of support as a student, visit our website or call 855-219-7300 to learn how you can benefit from these services at ACU Online.