Meet Judi Khalilallah, a wellness ambassador for the Dean of Students Office at Illinois State University. Judi has been a wellness ambassador since 2000. The wellness ambassador program has been part of Illinois State since 1984 as an initiative to connect faculty and staff from different departments across campus with Health Promotion and Wellness. Judi’s role in this context is being a leader who supports Health Promotion and Wellness initiatives, sharing pertinent information, and connecting with colleagues and students in her department.
Judi was drawn to become a wellness ambassador due to her love of fitness and helping others get excited about the fun fitness can offer, among many other benefits. Fitness has been part of Judi’s consistent routine going to the Illinois State Student Fitness Center three to four times a week doing Zumba, Upper Body Burnout, Total Body Strength, and Pilates. She also walks wherever she needs to go on campus and focuses on eating healthy foods and staying hydrated.
“I try to be an example. Hopefully by doing so I will inspire others,” she said.
Individuals have been inspired and are now participating in wellness fitness classes.
“I don’t like to take credit for the wellness choices people make because they are the ones who made the choices, but these are the times when I celebrate inside myself for them,” she said. “Once people are acting on their wellness choices, it creates community, where we share commonalities of fitness and wellness, opening up a relatable dialogue. It can create a communal synergy.”
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Judi understands being a wellness ambassador requires patience to let things unfold naturally and feels you need to know your audience. She never pushes, “It’s about meeting people where they are and being that example. People will start to ask questions when they are ready and I respect that. Once people are ready, the conversations can begin.” Judi sees herself as planting seeds, and when those seeds begin to sprout she is there to provide the affirmation.
A Few of My Favorite Things
“To be honest, one of my favorite things about being a wellness ambassador is the title,” Judy laughs. “The title ‘ambassador’ sounds royal. I just love it! I do enjoy keeping updated on what’s going on around campus as it pertains to wellness. The wellness ambassador annual lunch is helpful and it opens up the opportunity to connect with other wellness ambassadors on campus. I also love blending my wellness interests with helping others.”
Tending to the Mind
Judi doesn’t stop at fitness and healthy eating, she is a life-long learner. The vibrancy of her experiences is apparent. She holds two masters degrees, one in Family and Consumer Science, and the other in English Studies. Judi is now pursuing her doctorate. Among other ambitions, she wants to teach courses focusing on multicultural education in higher education and write children’s books integrating the multicultural element. Judi loves academia and the opportunities it provides for growth, expanding experiences, and the world around us. For Judi, it’s yet another way to enhance one’s wellness and help make a difference.
Words of Wisdom
Judi suggests to others that wellness is a journey.
“It’s about taking baby steps to get where you want to go, building little by little over time,” she said. “Simultaneously, being part of a supportive community in this process is helpful. The community provides the biggest success stories.”
Judi’s journey in being a wellness ambassador is an act of service to others, coming directly from her heart, and we are fortunate to have her be an inspirational part of the Illinois State community. We congratulate Judi on her 18 years of service as a wellness ambassador, and we look forward to more years to come!
Are you Inspired?
Wellness comes in many dimensions for you to explore: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. Illinois State has been on the forefront of wellness initiatives since 1984. With this, our campus is fortunate in having wellness ambassadors in place. Consider taking advantage of this resource and connect with your department wellness ambassador to start your wellness conversation today.
Health Promotion and Wellness is also happy to answer any questions you may have at (309)-438-WELL (9355).