A former member of the University of Cincinnati’s women’s swim team will receive the 2019 Student Mental Health Advocate Award from Undergraduate Student Government (SG).
Enna Selmanovic, a fourth-year biological sciences student, came to UC on a scholarship from Toronto to be a member of the women’s swim team. Selmanovic is also the director of operations for the Bearcats Support Network (BSN) — a campus organization that works to combat mental health stigmas by hosting peer groups and social events.
In her first year at UC, Selmanovic severely injured her back, bringing an abrupt end to her swimming career. After visiting a surgeon, Selmanovic was told she had only one option: a surgery that ran the risk of worsening her condition. She was advised against it.
Feeling lost, Selmanovic began to experience mental health issues. She started skipping classes, and she said being around her friends from swim team only amplified her depression.
Near the end of her second year, with the help of her coach and the executive senior associate director of athletics, Selmanovic found a new purpose in helping others. She took on a leadership role in UC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and she began working as an assistant volunteer coach for the swim team.
Getting through that transition was tough, Selmanovic said. It only began getting easier once she helped launch the Pow6rful Minds campaign — an initiative that works to improve awareness for mental health issues and expand resources for more than 7,000 student-athletes in the American Athletic Conference.
Through that initiative, she met Michael Charlton, executive director of BSN.
“I headed this initiative to help student athletes and support their mental health and well-being, regardless of what sport they play,” said Selmanovic. “Whether football, golf, basketball or whatever they play, we want them to know that they do have support.”
The Pow6rful Minds campaign is the highlight of her collegiate career, Selmanovic said. It has gained national recognition in recent years, and it was even featured on ESPN.
“It is honestly so awesome to show the work we have been doing and know it is impactful and important,” Selmanovic said.
After graduation in May, Selmanovic will move to New York City to conduct brain injury research at Mount Sinai Hospital. When she completes with her research, Selmanovic hopes to pursue her dream of attending medical school to study neuroscience and psychiatry, with a focus on student athlete well-being.