Sewanee is full of extraordinary people with fascinating stories. Here they share those stories–in their own words.

Makayla Williams, C’24

Host and producer of The Wellness Pod, psychology major, African and African American studies minor, Posse 14 member, researcher in Professor Katy Morgan’s Civic Action research lab, Interfaith House resident

I started a podcast—The Wellness Pod—to amplify diverse voices and narratives within the Sewanee community. The idea actually came from a psychology class I took where I was introduced to qualitative research. I learned about all of these creative methodologies that you can use to empower communities and to actually make sustainable change, and I was just so excited because I felt like I found my place within research. For one project, I paired up with a research partner to study identity and belonging at Sewanee by interviewing our peers about their experiences. We eventually interviewed each other and I was like, “Wait, me and you, we're interviewing each other and recording it. It's almost like a podcast.” As we were doing it, we became more and more enthusiastic because it felt so healing. It was such an intellectual but also emotionally vulnerable process talking about Sewanee, how we felt like we belonged, our identities, and the intersections between them. I thought, “We really should start a podcast. Let’s do it.”

So then I had to figure out, how do I make this a reality? Career Readiness offers funding for students who are pursuing otherwise unpaid internships, so I basically built my own internship from scratch and wrote up a funding proposal to support the first phase of my work. I spent the summer preparing to start the podcast. I interviewed hosts of other podcasts about their process and experts in dialogue. I was advised by Professor Morgan and Professor Silver—who has hosted a podcast of his own and was familiar with the equipment—from the Psychology Department, and we found a space in Woods Labs to set up the microphones and soundboard and everything to use as our studio. Really, the summer was about laying the foundation for the podcast and what I wanted it to be.

I feel like there's this huge gap when it comes to awareness surrounding diverse narratives and identities. I don't think it's possible to really appreciate or acknowledge an individual’s story without actively listening to them and truly hearing them. And I feel like there aren't enough spaces for people to be honest and open without fear of consequences, without feeling uncomfortable or ashamed. So that's really what I would like to see. I want diverse participants to come on the show—people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds—and be vulnerable and talk about who they are, what they do, and why they do it. 

There are different types of change, and the area that I'm trying to target is change through dialogue. Dialogue requires us to listen, requires us to speak, and requires us to be curious. All of these components come together, and the idea is that they raise the collective consciousness of the community. So that’s what I’m trying to do with this podcast—inform, interact, and engage through dialogue.

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listen to the first episode of the wellness pod here


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