UNCW Graduate Student Develops Model Program to Increase Problem-Gambling Awareness

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Darion Bayles ’19M is proof that career-boosting opportunities can be found in many places outside the classroom. Contacts he made while planning a UNCW campus event in 2017 led to funding for the same program this year and several invitations to share his insight with statewide organizations.

Bayles is a graduate advisor to UNCWeekends, a student-led event planning group. In 2017, he organized a combination casino night/problem-gambling awareness program designed to help students learn while having fun.

“The key to the success of this event involves balancing two components – awareness of and education about problem gambling for college students and providing an engaging and memorable event that students want to attend,” said Bayles, who is pursuing his M.Ed. in higher education at UNCW.

Bayles’ work ethic, creativity and organizational skills impressed advocates involved in efforts to prevent problem gambling. He consulted with Alison Drain of the state NC Problem Gambling Program, within the Department of Health and Human Services, to structure the event and to write the $5,000 grant that will pay for similar events during the 2018-19 academic year. This year, UNCWeekends will host two “Casino Night” programs, one in at the beginning of fall semester and one in spring.

“I wish we could bottle Darion’s drive, determination and quirky humor and duplicate what he did at college and university programs across the state,” Drain said.

Bayles was invited to make presentations to at least three statewide groups discussing how he and the UNCWeekends team organized, structured and promoted the event.

The experience has reinforced his chosen career path in student health or student leadership, he said. In addition to helping plan activities, Bayles is working in the Office of Institutional Planning and Research and will also serve as an intern with Student Health Services. UNCW’s 2016-21 Strategic Plan encourages students to take advantage of applied learning opportunities.

“The event aligns with a Student Affairs initiative called ‘Healthy Hawks,’ which promotes the holistic development of our students,” said Jon Kapell, director of the Campus Activities & Involvement Center, which includes UNCWeekends. “Student Affairs works to help UNCW students grow and become well-rounded global citizens,” said Kapell, who is principal investigator on the grant. “Providing programs that enable them to navigate situations outside the classroom is part of that effort.”

-- Tricia Vance


Graduate student Darion Bayles '19M (left) with CAIC Director Jon Kapell (right) in the Fisher University Union.

Graduate student Darion Bayles '19M (left) worked with Campus Activities and Involvement Center director Jon Kapell (right) to organize and write a state grant for a problem-gambling awareness program.