DIRECTORY | SUPPORT MCLA   

Newman Civic Fellow Dedicated to Mental Health Issues

04/19/17

Maggie Whited ’19 of Lincoln, Mass., believes that nearly everyone faces a mental health challenge at some point in their life, but unfortunately, those challenges may be ignored. As an advocate for those with mental health issues, it’s a concern she’s dedicated herself to.

“My true passion is working with teenagers with high risk factors,” said Whited, a sociology major who minors in social work, and child and family studies. “These adolescents are often poor and their families have fewer resources available. Teens are also at the right place in their development to understand their situation and make changes before this issue affects their adult life.”

Whited, who represents MCLA as the College’s Newman Civic Fellow this year, is a regular volunteer at the local transitional homeless shelter, Louison House, in Adams, Mass. As vice president of Dance Company, she uses her role to further support students who experience mental illness.

It was for this work – and more – that Whited was named a Newman Civic Fellow. Fellows tackle community challenges, provide fresh energy and perspective, inspire and mobilize others, and develop their own skills and potential. Through service, research and advocacy, these students make the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.

“I am absolutely passionate about working towards destigmatizing mental illness,” she explained. “It has become my life's purpose, and I find it incredibly empowering knowing that I can positively impact others’ lives for years.”

For the past several years, Whited has worked to establish a new club at MCLA – the Association for Neurodivergent Awareness (ANA) – which provides peer support and work against the stigma of mental health issues.

“I got involved on campus because I have always been volunteering; it is just something I grew up doing,” she explained. “At MCLA, all the opportunities are within walking distance, and you can see the positive impact it has on the school’s neighbors in the community.

“This has helped me grow as a human by enhancing my compassion, as well as my ability to think abstractly to solve problems. With volunteering, you are often working with a population or service that is lacking adequate funds. To thrive, they must solve their problems with more creativity than others often must. This is important to learn and understand to do well in the future,” Whited added.

She appreciates the relationships she shares with her professors and administrators on campus.

“This means I can design classes for myself, and be given information and opportunities that I may not have otherwise received.”

Last summer, Whited served an internship working with youth with high risk behavior in a short-term residential treatment center, Community Interventions Program (CIP), in Arlington, Mass. This summer, she will continue her work at CIP, and plans to continue to work there while she attends graduate school in the Boston area.