A How-To for a New, Improved You

Elaine Thompson, Others to Speak at Southeastern University Seminar


Southeastern University is gearing up to kick off the new year with its inaugural “SEU Presents” event series. The first event, “A New Year, A Happy & Healthier You,” will be held January 5 from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Lake Bonny Room in the Welcome Center on the Lakeland campus. This event is open to the public.

The event was created out of a strong desire to help make the public aware of all the resources the SEU College of Natural and Health Sciences has to offer.

So what will it entail? Attendees will be treated to several TED Talk-style presentations from distinguished speakers at the SEU College of Natural and Health Sciences. Among the list of prestigious faculty and alumni at the event is keynote speaker Dr. Elaine Thompson, a professor of professional practice and the former president and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health.

Thompson’s keynote speech, titled “How to Make 2024 the Joy and Time of Your Life,” will kick off a series of talks discussing the best ways to optimize your health and wellness in the new year. The talks will be based on groundbreaking research carried out within the past two years. 

Other presentations will cover advances in topics like nutrition, stress management, spirituality, sleep, exercise, and more. Essentially, it’s everything you need to know to make 2024 your best year yet. These talks — meant to be short, informative, and relevant — will be delivered by experts in the latest research in health and wellness.

According to Thompson, making progress in the new year isn’t just about setting resolutions and trying to stick to them. Studies have found that as many as 43% of people quit their New Year’s resolutions, and fewer than 10 percent of people who make resolutions actually complete them regardless of time frame. 

That’s why Thompson says she’ll focus on guiding participants toward creating and implementing habits they can follow for the next 30 days rather than a full year. It’s about taking baby steps that lead to lasting, meaningful change.

Thompson is excited to be partnering with other prominent voices at SEU to offer this series. Though relatively new to the university, she found herself blown away by the vast resources offered by the university (namely, the College of Natural and Health Sciences). As a longtime member of the local community, she simply hadn’t realized how many opportunities were available until she signed on to teach at the university. 

Thompson is no stranger to health care. A 30-year veteran of the health industry, she worked as a physical therapist for several years before becoming the CEO of Lakeland Regional Health and a handful of hospitals in Pennsylvania. At the heart of her career has been a desire to keep people out of hospitals. Her emphasis on community health prioritizes preventative care and a holistic approach, looking at all aspects of health (from exercise to nutrition to companionship and spirituality) rather than just clinical treatments for disease. 

This desire to empower the community with the knowledge to take charge of their own health is the driving force behind the series. It’s not just about delivering the most recent research, but also making sure participants have the tools they need to take action. Each participant will be given the opportunity to engage in breakout sessions that let them put what they’ve learned into action. 



Thompson’s presentation is just one of many informative, engaging talks that will be given on January 5. Other presenters include Camilla Escalara Carey, PhD, RN, an alumnus of SEU who will be speaking on stress. 


Stephen Reeder, another SEU alum, will be discussing habit formation as it relates to exercise. Dr. Aimee Franklin, the organizer of the event and the dean of the SEU College of Natural and Health Sciences, will deliver an in-depth session on how people can leverage the most recent research in neuroscience to harness the power of their brains. 

The day’s events start with a full continental breakfast at 8 a.m. sharp, followed by the keynote address and the other presentations. For the price of $125 per head (or a discounted rate of $1,000 for a table of eight participants), attendants will have access to all the presentations in addition to complimentary parking, breakfast, lunch, and a breakout session in which they’ll be guided to make their own 30-day improvement plan. 

Although this is currently the only event on the calendar for this fledgling SEU Presents series, it likely won’t be the last. Franklin and Thompson both emphasized a passion for promoting wellness in the community and hinted at future events coming within the next two years. Future events will likely have a focus on maternal and infant health, as well as on promoting women in business and in politics. 

To register for the January 5 event, visit seu.edu/advancement/seu-presents. 

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