Journey to student affairs: Meet Antwione Haywood, PhD
Assistant dean. Educator. Wellness coach. Antwione Haywood, PhD, has worn many hats since joining IU School of Medicine in 2014. Learn more about Haywood’s journey to the school and why he loves working in student affairs.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to where you are today and why you chose your profession.
I grew up in California. During high school, I skipped a grade but decided to delay graduation. When my parents moved our family to Virginia midway through my final year of high school, I benefitted from being in the right place at the right time. Up until that point I hadn’t really had the guidance to think about going to college. However, during one of my electives with the guidance office, I received some really good advice. Despite having what I would consider to be only slightly above average academic accolades, I ended up receiving a lot of scholarships to colleges because of the guidance I received.
For undergrad, I applied to what you might call ESPN schools—colleges I had heard about on TV because of their sports teams. I ended up choosing Old Dominion University. At that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do but I became an on-campus resident assistant. Because of that role and my other student life involvement, my academic advisor asked if I’d ever considered a career in student affairs. I decided student affairs would be a good fit and ended up going to University of Kansas to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs. When I moved out to the university with my two suitcases, I’d never set foot in the state of Kansas.
After I graduated with my master’s degree, I joined Drexel University as a staff member. There, colleagues who are alumni of Indiana University, recommended I explore a PhD in higher education and student affairs at IU. Through that program I met my wife, Jasmine and eventually found my way into student affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine. I can’t imagine being where I am today without the guidance I received from student affairs professionals. I am happy to be in a position where I can provide guidance to students.
In your words, what is student affairs and why is it important?
Student affairs provides strategic services that meet the needs of the student body—which evolve over time. Student affairs is a multi-generational, century-old profession that is always evolving and adapting to a university’s culture and the needs of its students. My fundamental goal as a student affairs dean is to eliminate barriers to student success.
What do you like best about working at IU School of Medicine?
I love the emotions of Match Day. It captures real feelings in such a magical way. When you look nationally at the data, people are more likely to practice where they complete residency. So, in a matter of moments, students find out potentially where they’re going to live and what they’re going to practice for the rest of their life. And I think there’s a real genuine emotional response you can’t capture in any other capacity.
What are you most proud of in regards to IU School of Medicine and its students?
I am most proud of the Medical Student Council (MSC). This group tries its hardest to represent the student voice. When I think about major changes at this school—from Connections Days to Pass/Fail—MSC leaders have been side-by-side champions for the student body. Working with MSC is one of the best highlights of my job.
Why is diversity important within medicine?
I would say the benefit is not in diversity itself. Instead, the benefit is in cultivating an inclusive environment that allows for diversity. In many ways, what we’re really talking about is creating a psychologically safe environment. In this type of environment, people feel supported, and feel like they have a space to share their perspective. They can offer diversity of thought, life experiences and background—and have their perspectives welcomed.
I think the challenge with diversity is assuming that simply having visible diversity will yield desired results. I think it’s important to find ways to really focus on creating an environment that’s open to the values that advance an organization’s overall potential.
What keeps you motivated and helps you find your wellness balance?
The humanistic moments connecting with students are what keep me motivated. Early in my tenure at IU School of Medicine, I met a student who was waiting to hear back about an exam result. When the news came back that he had passed the exam he reached out to me (a person he barely knew) and embraced me with a hug filled with joy and tears. Moments like that are truly special.
To help with wellness, I use the Calm app every day. Every day before work, I sit in my car for 10 minutes of gratitude, mindfulness and self-love.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
I teach group fitness at a local YMCA and love the impact it has on people’s life. I love a good podcast and anything written by Brene Brown or Mark Hyman. Learning how to be a better person and living in the moment are my true interests.
What else would you like the IU School of Medicine faculty, staff and students to know about you?
Leading with the human heart will improve your work and personal life. Also, I sometimes still get mistaken for a student—so I guess I want everyone to know I’m not a student (haha).
Additionally, I am a certified wellness coach. Happy to meet with students at any time! Many people find coaches and accountability partners helpful when it comes to following through on preventative practices—whether it’s diet, exercise or life choices. Coaching in general assumes that what we need to tap into is an individual’s intrinsic motivation. And that many of the answers often already exist within an individual. My focus as a wellness coach is to help individuals overcome personal barriers that limit them from reaching their potential.