Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Shuhui Lin (Lin) is the Coordinator for International Student Support and Engagement in International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Her role focusing on Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement gives her a unique position to support international students as a Mental Health Champion at the University of Iowa. 

Lin started her employment at the University of Iowa as a student employee in ISSS. When she pursued her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs, she began working in ISSS full time, leading to her current position. Her championing of mental health among international students originates from personal experience as an international student.

Lin’s focus on mental health comes from a philosophy of caring for herself so that she can care for others. She states, “A wellness philosophy from my hometown is ‘nourish life’ (养生 in Chinese), and it refers to a way of nurturing our wellbeing on a day-to-day basis rather than waiting until you get sick.” She sees this wellbeing as mental as much as physical. She contends that to support others, she must support herself: “One cannot pour from an empty cup,” she points out. When she is mentally nourished, she sees herself as most fully able to help nurture the wellbeing of the students she serves.

In her position, Lin works with University Counseling Service (UCS) to support international students, and she reaches out proactively to ensure that as many international students as possible feel supported, especially after global tragedy or trauma. In a letter of support for Lin, UCS describes her as “well-attuned to these needs [of international students affected by world events],” stating that she “is able to quickly respond and collaboratively coordinate with others to respond to the students[.]” With UCS, Lin coordinates Support Spaces in response to world events that may be particularly difficult for international students. A non-exhaustive list of some of these spaces includes supporting the following:

  • Students and scholars from Ukraine, Russia, and surrounding areas after the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
  • Students, scholars, staff, and faculty from Iran and surrounding countries in response to the civil unrest in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody.
  • International students and scholars in response to a death in this community on the University of Iowa campus.

When asked about one mental health program that she wanted to highlight, Lin cited Mental Health Around the World, which happened on April 12. This event was started last year as a collaboration between the UCS Student Advisory Board and the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), for which Lin serves as a staff advisor. This event is described as “an interactive mental health fair highlighting mental wellness and self-care from cultures around the world.” Lin was instrumental in the development of this international mental health fair, and in doing so she has demonstrated her commitment to the community of students she serves. Her well-deserved Mental Health Champion award also contributes to inclusive campus initiatives and reinforces the welcoming environment sought by the University of Iowa.