Southwestern is excited to announce a partnership with the American Heart Association of Central Texas as part of the University’s commitment to promoting cardiovascular health and awareness during American Heart Month. This collaboration highlights Southwestern’s dedication to fostering a healthy and informed community, which contributes to a heart-healthy society.

Observed annually in February, Heart Month is an opportunity to highlight the importance of cardiovascular health, raise awareness about heart disease prevention, and encourage lifestyle choices supporting a strong heart. Southwestern is known for its emphasis on holistic well-being and will join forces with the American Heart Association to amplify these vital messages.

“Nearly 45% of females 20 years or older are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and many don’t know it,” said Vanessa Maldonado, executive director at American Heart Association Central Texas. “We want to make sure that students know that most cardiac and stroke events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes. Implementing these small changes, such as moving more, eating smart, and knowing your numbers, during your college years can reap health benefits well into the future.”

This partnership will include various compelling and informative events throughout the month to educate the Southwestern community and the general public. Dr. Caitlin Giesler, the American Heart Association Board President and local cardiologist, will visit campus and discuss why heart health matters now to college students. The community is invited to participate in CPR demonstrations and blood pressure readings, with additional resources available at the men’s and women’s basketball games. The overarching goal is to heighten awareness within the SU community regarding the importance of incorporating small, heart-healthy behaviors into daily routines.

“I always tell my students, ‘Awareness is the first and most important step toward positive behavior change.’ From my health promotion perspective, offering events throughout the month may help keep us more mindful of those small, positive heart-healthy behaviors we can easily engage in throughout our day that can enhance our heart health,” Assistant Professor of Instruction in Kinesiology Vanessa Mikan said. “We know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among all age groups and that our behaviors can influence our health at any age. I truly believe in the power of the small-small when it comes to our health. Positive behavior change is about baby steps. This is why I encourage my students who struggle with time obstacles to think about the easy little habits we can fit into our day. By focusing on the small-small, we can build consistency, and through consistency, we can begin to ingrain this habit to where it just becomes part of our daily actions and lives.”

Southwestern’s commitment to community well-being aligns seamlessly with the American Heart Association’s mission to build a world of longer, healthier lives. By collaborating on Heart Month initiatives, the University aims to create lasting awareness and inspire positive action toward cardiovascular health. For more information about Southwestern’s Heart Month events and activities, visit