Mary Peterson speaks to students about having a balanced life

Lindsay Hostert

Mary Peterson, former executive director of the Mid-American Panhellenic Council Association and associate executive director of the Mid-American Interfraternal Council Association, spoke Wednesday at the Memorial Union about balancing the stressful aspects of college life.

The Sun Room was packed with students eager to hear her motivational words.

Peterson was introduced by her son, Ben Peterson, junior in early childhood education. She began her speech by stating why she believed she was qualified to be speaking to college students.

“I have 25 years in higher education, so I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly,” Peterson said.

Peterson has watched students over the years at the University of Iowa, where she served as the Associate Director of the Office of Student Life for 24 years. She spoke about her experiences watching students juggling the many activities and organizations they were involved in, which motivated her to speak on college campuses.

She believes that there are three areas students can focus on to improve their lives, including partying and alcohol consumption, the amount of stress in a student’s life, as well as sex and relationships.

Peterson’s first area of focus was alcohol.

“I enjoy three liquids in my life: coffee, water and Chardonnay. In that order,” Peterson joked.

Peterson expressed to her audience that if they choose to drink, they should do so responsibly and always have a “designated darling,” or a sober friend who is not only going to drive them home, but stay with them and make sure they are safe.

The next area of focus was stress. Peterson gave some humorous, but practical and simple ways to destress life.

“Every college student should have a coloring book and some colors,” Peterson said.

She spoke about how important it is that college students take time away from all the technology and just be kids for a day.

“Go find some friends and play a board game,”  Peterson said.  

The last thing Peterson offered were tips for having a healthy relationship. The biggest message she wished to get across to her audience was, “No means no.” Peterson said it is important that men and women understand that concept when they are trying to make a relationship work.

One of the students in attendance, Colby Geniec, sophomore in management, found that Peterson’s words resonated with her and said, “Only I can make good choices, even if I didn’t make the choice to be put into that situation.”