How Maggie Baker CHOOSES a healthy lifestyle that benefits those around her

The Iowa Challenge defines "choose" as follows: "Every day you make decisions that affect your education and your future. Take your choices seriously and use your freedom wisely. Your Iowa education is what you make it. Make it something you and your university can be proud of."

As Maggie Baker gears up to graduate this May, she reflects on the choices she has made and the organizations she has chosen to be apart of during her time at the University of Iowa. A health and human physiology major from Brighton, Iowa, she has spent much of her four years here devoted to spreading messages of health across campus. She is a Health Ninjas leader through Student Health and Wellness, CPR instructor for the Red Watch Band program, member of MEDICUS, and more.

As a part of Health Ninjas, Maggie tries to make different topics of wellness relevant to students. Along with other leaders, she holds monthly meetings with RAs to discuss health of residents, hands our healthy snacks during finals, organizes outreach events with UI Reach, and more. As a Red Watch Band leader, she teaches people about alcohol bystanding techniques and CPR.

In these organizations, Maggie says her goal is to give people a better idea of everything that goes into being healthy. She says her time here has opened her eyes to a lot of aspects of health you don’t normally think about. Mental, physical, and relational health are all equally important when it comes to choosing a healthy lifestyle. 

“I think Health Ninjas and Red Watch Band have both taught me a lot about reading into people, and how to look after my friends and notice signs of trouble, so I can reach out to them before it becomes something too serious,” Maggie says.

To Maggie, choosing to be healthy is all about thinking about how your decisions today will affect your future. She says many people choose to go to the gym to “look good,” but for her, it’s about having good cardiovascular and bone health, so she is able to do whatever she wants fo the rest of her life. She also says she wants to stay healthy so that she can be available as a resource for the people around her who may need her.

“If you choose to go above and beyond and you choose to check in on your friends and make sure they are okay, you are choosing to give them a better quality of life, as well as yourself,” Maggie says.

There are six main principles of wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social. Spreading the word about these components and how they combine to create a healthy life is what Maggie and the rest of the Health Ninjas aim to do. There are many campus resources that can help with each of these health aspects, but Maggie says students don’t always know how to use them, which is what she aims to fix.

Right now, Maggie is the final stages of applying to medical school. She says after medical school, she’d like to be a physician in a rural, underserved community.

“Using the skills I’ve learned here in my undergraduate degree, as well as in Health Ninjas, I’d like to start healthy eating workshops in local schools,” she says “In rural areas, health literacy is on average way lower than everywhere else in the country. I’d like to improve that.”

About the series: the Iowa Challenge is a mission statement for UI students that involves 5 main goals: excel, stretch, engage, choose, and serve. These 5 things are what the UI expects from students, and what students should strive to do for themselves. This series profiles 5 students who exemplify what it means to take part in the Iowa Challenge.