As Miss Ball State, Anastasia Sharp-Keller is using her influence to encourage her peers to pay attention to their own physical and mental health as they endure the pandemic.

Sharp-Keller, 21, is a senior and a first-generation student from Vincennes. She is studying psychological science with minors in autism spectrum disorders and sociology and expects to graduate in May 2021.

“We should be one another’s support systems,” she said. “We need to be there for each other.”

During the upcoming Spring semester, the campus community will hear and see messages from Sharp-Keller through a series of public service announcements, online videos, and a social media campaign on Ball State’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Sharp-Keller will be stressing the need for students to maintain good physical and mental health.

Due to COVID-19, Sharp-Keller’s 2019–2020 reign has been extended through September 2021. Her platform focuses on healthy living and mental health as well as proper eye care.

Her platform grew out of a meeting during the Fall semester with Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns in which Sharp-Keller explained how she felt comfortable at Ball State due to the campus’ pandemic response and the University’s focus on supporting the mental and physical health of their students.

She can relate to being a kid and going through a hard time. Her father left the family when she was young. Furthermore, she suffered from deteriorating vision until surgery in high school saved her from blindness. Everything she endured took a toll on her mental health.

“As a result, I have an anxiety disorder,” Sharp-Keller said. “My doctor diagnosed me with it about two years ago. It got really bad for a while because my everyday activities, my normal routines, were uprooted. And I have to say, I lived through a really dark time.”

One of her supporters at Ball State has been Andy Luttrell, an assistant professor of psychological science who recently was Sharp-Keller’s faculty advisor in her major.

“Anastasia has the ability to bring people together to meet bigger goals,” Luttrell said.

When classes start on January 19, Sharp-Keller—who hopes to become a counseling psychologist who works with children—wants her fellow students to lean on each other.

“Simply, we are all in this together,” she said. “I suggest that we all reach out to friends on a daily basis. It really can make a difference.”