Health and Wellness a focus for SUNY Adirondack

Photographs of Esposito, Gifford, Neal and Prock
July 12, 2022

New department hires four to increase attention paid to 'pillars of health'

QUEENSBURY, New York (July 12, 2022) — SUNY Adirondack is proud to announce development of a new on-campus Health and Wellness office to further meet the needs of students.

The college welcomes Lori Prock as director of Health and Wellness; Tobey Gifford and Kyle Esposito as wellness coordinators; and nurse Deb Neal.

“We are excited to add to existing health initiatives on campus to ensure we are caring for our students’ well-being in a holistic way,” said Kathryn O’Sick, dean for Student Affairs. “Lori, Tobey, Kyle and Debbie each bring years of experience in their respective fields, and are passionate about helping people be their healthiest, happiest selves.”

The office is possible with funds designated to the college through the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a portion of which SUNY dictates must be designated to support the mental health and wellness of students. 

Prock was most recently emergency preparedness coordinator for Saratoga County. She previously served as health educator and senior health educator for that county’s Department of Public Health. She started her career as a substitute teacher, then worked for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in Health Education from Sage Colleges. 

“We will look at the six pillars of health — physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and occupational — and how we can address all of them to better meet the needs of students,” Prock said.

Gifford has served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Adirondack for several years. A SUNY Adirondack alumna, Gifford went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Skidmore College. She has advanced training and certification in health and wellness, personal training, group exercise, yoga and yoga therapy. She is co-owner and director of Lemon Tree Yoga and Healing Arts Studio in Glens Falls; a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists; a national and world aerobic champion who has been featured on ESPN and Sports Illustrated; and is featured in the book “Athlete” by Howard Schatz. 

“I try to lead and show others the path toward health, happiness and peace through establishing balance of healthy body and mind,” Gifford said.

Esposito earned a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Skidmore College and a master’s degree in Ministry and Leadership from Fuller Seminary. While working at Young Life, a Christian youth organization, he took Outdoor Education classes at SUNY Adirondack. In 2017, he started teaching those classes and working as a completion coach at The Hub, a community resource at the college that provides students with essentials. 

“The wellness coordinator position is a great blend of what I love to do and a platform to help students succeed,” Esposito said. “Our students need support with mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.”

Deb Neal, a nurse at Glens Falls Hospital, will offer regular hours in SUNY Adirondack’s Residence Hall to further attend to students’ needs. Neal graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She was a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps officer for seven years and has worked as a nurse since, in units including medical/surgery, mother/baby, labor and delivery, infection control, same-day surgery and primary care. 

Neal has been a primary care registered nurse at Glens Falls Hospital since 2017. 

The addition of a Health and Wellness office enhances other efforts at SUNY Adirondack to help students, faculty and staff achieve health. The college offers an on-campus Counseling Center; Randle’s Veterans Center; support groups; regular wellness programming including mindful meditation; a fitness center; and The Hub. 

In February, SUNY Adirondack joined the JED Campus network, an initiative of The Jed Foundation that helps colleges strengthen mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. In the months since, dozens of SUNY Adirondack faculty and staff members participated in Mental Health First Aid, a National Council for Behavioral Health training.

In March, Hudson Headwaters Health Network’s Mobile Health Unit began making biweekly visits to campus, offering services to students, faculty, staff and their family members. The unit is located outside the Residence Hall the second and fourth Thursday of each month. 

SUNY Adirondack is also in the process of creating wellness spaces around campus, to encourage mindfulness, reflection, socialization, physical activity and healthy living.

“Health is not just physical and emotional,” Prock said.