The University of Iowa is challenging YOU to take the 5-for-5 Connection Challenge!

The University of Iowa wants YOU to take the 5-for-5 Connection Challenge!

Social connection plays a critical role in our personal and community well-being. Strong personal relationships can have a big impact on our physical, emotional, and mental health. 

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy created the 5-for-5 Connection Challenge in response to a growing problem of loneliness and social isolation among college-age students. Completing the challenge is a way to build and strengthen your relationships and inspire others to incorporate connection into their daily lives. 

Get started


Step 1: Commit to connect

  • Commit to the UI challenge by clicking here.
  • Pick 5 days in a row to connect with people in your life.

Step 2: Connect each day

  • Each day, for 5 days, take 1 simple action of your choice to express gratitude, offer support, or ask for help.
  • To track your progress, download the connection card.

Step 3: Reflect and share

  • Take a moment to reflect on how connecting made you feel. 
  • Share your experience and enter to win prizes!

Step 3: Reflect and share

Your submission will be used to evaluate the program. We may contact you for permission to use your submission to promote future programs.

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Challenge yourself and others!

This challenge applies to everyone in the university community: students, faculty, staff, and postdocs. Share this with your coworkers for greater impact! 

Questions about the Challenge? Write to


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"I connect with my local group spinning class, by engaging with my spinning class I feel connected to like-minded humans and foster connections for support outside of class."

Molly Kucera, Associate Director of Nursing Services, UIHC

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"Because I make an effort to meet with campus colleagues/partners outside of meetings (such as through volunteering, campus events or meeting for coffee…) I learn more about their whole selves – not just their work selves. 

Through these interactions we laugh, discover our commonalities, but more importantly, I gain an understanding of and appreciation for their uniqueness, talents, vulnerabilities, challenges and how they persist – and these connections bring me joy. "

Tanya Villhauer, Assistant Dean of Well-being and Basic Needs

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"Connecting with others makes me feel like I’m part of something. Since the pandemic I’ve seen a rise in how much alone time I spend and connecting with others can seem more difficult than it used to. But no matter how many awkward conversations it takes to get back to my normal social self, I know it’s worth it because of that feeling of being part of something. 

Whether it’s a friend group, sports team, or club, being part of some type of social group makes me feel like I have a place to go to and a group of people I can rely on. Connecting with others gives me a sense of fulfillment and helps me to boost my mental health in a positive way as well.'

Sean O'Hearn, Undergraduate Student

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"I look for the opportunity to build connections into my day. Before a meeting, during a break, or while driving kids’ to activities; I enjoy pausing and providing a moment of attention to someone who may not expect it. I like to ask “Why their day is good?” or “What was unexpected in their day?” and give a moment of attention and reflection. I find that when I pause and ask a deeper question, it also helps me slow down and appreciate the people I spend my day with."

Erin Litton, Senior Director of UI Wellness / University Human Resources 

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"I connect because it gives a sense of purpose and meaning to my life. It makes everything more fun. No matter what happens during the day, I get to come home and hang out with my roommate. I spend time doing homework, but I also spend time with my partner and my friends. Each week I get to chat over the phone and catch up with my parents and my brother. 

I love my job, but going to work is even more fun being well-acquainted with my colleagues. To me, life is all about having experiences and sharing love with those around you. Connecting means I get to do that all the time! "

Ella Mucciolo, Graduate Student, College of Public Health


"I feel seen and heard when I connect with the people who matter the most to me. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but a brief shared story or simple joke is sometimes all that I need to know that they care about me. "

Teri Schnelle, Director of Projects & Partnerships, Division of Student Life

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"Connection makes me feel aligned with my values and a part of something bigger than myself. 

Truly, when I think of the jobs I’ve had, it’s the connections with colleagues, clients, students, and mentors that have made those jobs dear. And I say that as someone who deeply loves what I do. For all that I’m passionate about my work/craft, those moments of shared humanity are the most important in keeping me coming back."

Kristin Wurster, Licensed Psychologist, Graduate Medical Education / University of Iowa Health Care 

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"Connecting with my classmates and coworkers always strengthens my sense of purpose. It reminds me why I’m here. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that there are people who support me as a student, as a staff member, and—most importantly—as a person."

Haley Wolf, Behavioral Health Coordinator, Student Wellness / Graduate Student, Higher Education and Student Affairs

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"Connection, both professionally and personally, is a source of joy, fulfillment, and energy. In my professional life, I oversee basic needs initiatives on campus, including the Food Pantry. Understanding others' perspectives and experiences enhances my ability to relate to different situations, promoting a deeper understanding of the human condition. 

Connection combats my feelings of isolation.  Interactions with others elevates my mood, reduces stress, and contributes to a more optimistic outlook on life, fostering overall well-being."

Steph Beecher, Basic Needs Coordinator / Office of the Dean of Students 

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"One way I like to connect is by creating collaborative opportunities for co-workers to volunteer. I’m a new employee at the University of Iowa and I previously worked at a small community hospital in New Hampshire. 

Through my previous job, I organized a project for the staff to help plant and maintain a flowerbed for the city. This offered staff the chance to get outside, meet others in different departments, and give back in a meaningful way to their community during their workday. "

Liz Swanton, Well-Being & Health Promotion Action Manager, Office of the Dean of Students

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"The university has so many opportunities to connect with others.  Whether that’s through events, lectures, sports, music, or clubs.  I try to take advantage of these at different times of the year.  On a daily basis my connections are with my colleagues, and the faculty, staff, and students we serve.  I make a point to know people’s names and learn a bit about them as a person; I take time to have a conversation. 

My connections with the university give me purpose, and a way to pay it forward to others.  My daily connections support a positive attitude no matter the challenges."

Joni Troester, Senior Assistant Vice President and Deputy CHRO / University Human Resources

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"I like working on teams and connecting with individuals from across campus who represent a wide array of roles and responsibilities. 

These connections help me to contextualize my own work and how it contributes to the broader missions of The University of Iowa and to appreciate all of the talented people I have the opportunity to learn from during my career."

Michael Weaver, Program Manager, Executive Assistant to the Vice President / Office of the Vice President for Research