September Wellness Ambassador of the Month | Zina Austin

Zina Austin smiling with her camera
Zina Austin

Wellness Ambassador of the Month
Zina Austin, Radiation Oncology 

How long have you worked at UC Davis?

I have been with the University for over five years. I started out in Parking Services and eventually made my way to the Department of Radiation Oncology.

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is very personal and I believe that it will mean something different to each person. For me, wellness is related to how I am feeling overall. Is my mental health in a good place? How does my body feel? Am I getting enough sleep?

Why did you become a wellness ambassador?

Currently I am a volunteer of the Employee and Patient Satisfaction Committee in the department of Radiation Oncology. Our committee came up with the idea of creating a Zen Den space for our staff to help reduce stress and deal with compassion fatigue. The Zen Den was pitched to leadership, but we were unsure of how we were going to fund the idea given that we were basically starting from scratch. Eventually I ended up taking an Ergonomics training on campus and someone came in to talk about the Wellness Ambassador program. I felt as though the program aligned with what I was already doing in the E&P Satisfaction Committee, so I signed up and applied for the wellness grant. Our proposal was accepted, and the Zen Den has been a hit not only for our department, but the Cancer Center as a whole.

How long have you been a wellness ambassador?

I have been a Wellness Ambassador for almost four years.

What has been rewarding or positive about your experience thus far?

It has been incredibly rewarding to see members of my department embracing our wellness space/items and adopting new behaviors.

Zina and her colleagues

What are some of the challenges you face as a wellness ambassador?

My biggest challenge is conquering apathy towards wellness at work. Work-life balance should start at work, rather than at home. Many of our staff members are active in maintaining their wellness outside of the workplace but fail to recognize the importance of applying the same attention to wellness at work (not taking adequate breaks, etc.).

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with new wellness ambassadors?

Follow through is everything. It’s easy to come up with an idea but seeing it through to the end can be difficult. Also, surveys are your friend. Use them to get the department involved to help you better serve them as the wellness ambassador.

Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being aims to build an environment that makes the healthier choice the easier choice, while providing staff and faculty with the required support to make UC Davis the healthiest community. How do you feel you have contributed to our mission?

I believe that I have contributed to the mission of Health and Well-being by increasing wellness communication with the department. Earlier this year I worked to create a departmental Wellness Newsletter that provided information on how to stay well during the pandemic while also working at home. We have our Zen Den and Wellness items, but usage was down due to COVID-19. I received a lot of great feedback after providing wellness information to folks who were working at home and I hope to continue the newsletter on a quarterly basis.

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I am a photographer and I have been capturing memories for people for the last nine years. This hobby fulfills my occasional need to be creative and helps provide an outlet for me to express myself.