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Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell)

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Mission

To actively educate UC San Diego students on important issues related to their health and well-being by presenting research based and relevant information that empowers them to comprehensively reflect on their choices and engage in healthy behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions. Our goal is to provide support to students during their journey at UC San Diego, and teach them healthy lifestyle habits that will contribute to student success, life satisfaction and a sense of well-being while at the University and in life beyond college.

Purpose

The Peer Health Educator Program was established to foster an environment of learning and trust in order to address individual and community responses related to physical, mental, and social well-being issues that students at UC San Diego may experience. By integrating empirically-based, comprehensive findings about holistic health and well-being with open and engaging dialogue, we facilitate the development of strong and cohesive partnerships on campus and in the community. We are committed to a balanced approach that applies best practices in the promotion of a healthy campus and community environment.

Meet Your Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell)

Kween-Agba.jpgKween Agba (she/her/hers)
Neurosciences Graduate Program, 2nd year
Northeastern University, BS in Behavioral Neuroscience

Kween is a Nigerian-American from the small town of Ames, Iowa. She moved to San Diego to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience and research spinal cord injuries. As a Black woman in STEM, she is passionate about diversity and representation in the sciences. As such, her goal as a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate is to support under-represented minorities through their graduate school experiences. Coming from an immigrant background, mental health was an unfamiliar and difficult topic for Kween to navigate. Along her own mental health journey grappling with stress, anxiety, and depression, Kween has come to highly value work-life balance, self-care, and self-compassion. She looks forward to bringing these values into her work as a GAPSWell Associate. In her free time, Kween likes to crochet hats for dogs, relieve stress on runs, and farm (virtually) in Stardew Valley.


Jasmin-Ashby.jpgJasmin Ashby (They/Them/Theirs or She/Her/Hers)
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health & Human Longevity Science, 1st year
UC San Diego, BA in Sociology of Science and Medicine

Jasmin was raised in both America and Japan, and received her undergraduate degree in Sociology of Science and Medicine at UC San Diego. She is currently a first year Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate student with a passion for public mental health. She has researched the use of social media to cope with mental health concerns, as well as Asian and Asian American student experiences of mental health at UC San Diego. As a multiracial student with disability, Jasmin is passionate about advocating for students with disabilities in addition to discussing multiracial and asian student experiences. As a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate, her goals are to help provide an inclusive and supportive environment that promotes the graduate and professional student community’s social, well-being, and mental health needs. In her spare time, you can find her watching her favorite anime “One Piece”, creating silly tik toks and learning how to powerlift.


Neha-Balaji.jpgNeha Balaji (she/her/hers)
MS Bioengineering, 1st year
BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore, BE in Biotechnology

Neha grew up in Bangalore, India and moved to San Diego for graduate school in Fall 2021. She is a first year master’s student in the Bioengineering Department at UC San Diego. As a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate, she looks forward to sharing the power of compassion as a stepping stone to mental health. An International student who has experienced difficulties in maintaining a balanced lifestyle, she especially cares about eating disorders and the difficulty students may experience in building healthy habits in a new place. Neha wants to help build a community that is comfortable asking for help when away from home and family. As a vocal supporter of environmental conservation, she hopes to raise awareness among her peers regarding the impact of the natural environment on personal well-being. She is a former competitive tennis player and enjoys outdoor activities such as morning runs on the beach and weekend hikes exploring San Diego’s natural beauty. She likes to bake creative confectionaires, write short essays, and deeply dissect a wide range of movies and TV shows as an amateur cinephile.


Jose-Delgado_crop.jpgJosé Delgado (he/him/his)
Bioengineering Medical Specialization MS, 2nd year
UC Santa Barbara, BS in Biological sciences

José is from Denver, CO and is currently working towards his master’s degree in Bioengineering with a Medical Specialization. He values loyalty, honesty, and spontaneity. As a former resident assistant, he has experience supporting first-generation, low-income, and students of color navigating higher education, and he is excited to continue helping his peers as a Graduate Well-Being Associate. He especially believes in the power of community to foster resilience through graduate school. He balances his professional interests in STEM with a strong personal passion for self-expression, especially through art and tattoos. When he takes time for himself, you may find him swimming laps to relax and clear his mind.


Dania-Maldonado.pngDania Maldonado (she/her/hers)
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health & Human Longevity Science, 1st year
UC Irvine School of Medicine, 4th Year Medical Student
UC Berkeley, BA Social Welfare, minor in Education

Dania is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health at UC San Diego. She is also a fourth-year medical student and part of the Program in Medical Education for the Latinx Community (PRIME-LC) at UC Irvine School of Medicine. She grew up in Whittier, California, and attended UC Berkeley where she majored in Social Welfare and minored in Education. She is passionate about working with underserved and uninsured communities. As a first-generation student she wants to connect with students who come from similar backgrounds. As a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate, she wants to provide a welcoming space for students to discuss any concerns or challenges while gaining adequate support, advice, and connectivity to resources. She likes to connect with nature through hikes at Torrey Pines and she enjoys changing her study environment by finding new coffee shops. She recommends White Aloha at Deja Brew Lounge in North Park.


Anja Payne headshotAnja Payne (she/her/hers)
Neurosciences Graduate Program, 7th year
University of Utah, BS in Biomedical Engineering

Anja was born and raised amongst the mountainous beauty of Salt Lake City, Utah where she earned a degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah. Since moving to San Diego, she has been avidly pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience with a particular interest in learning and memory. Throughout her PhD, she has been enthusiastic about exploring topics related to graduate well-being. Her well-being interests are far-ranging but more recently have included topics such as effective goal-setting, mind-body communication, meditation (with an emphasis on sitting with sticky emotions), and setting professional boundaries. In her personal well-being journey, she has worked through topics surrounding grief and anxiety and is happy to explore those topics with others. In her free time, she finds her joy by reading copiously, snuggling her two doggos intensely, creating things sporadically, and playing video games poorly.


Alexis-Plazola.jpgAlexis Plazola (she/her/hers)
Global Health Graduate Program, 1st year
UC San Diego, BS Global Health

Alexis is a first year student in the M.A. Global Health program. She graduated in 2021 from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Global Health. She grew up in Riverside County, California, and is a first-generation college student. She is very passionate about women’s rights and health, and completed her senior thesis on sex trafficking within the United States. Before attending UC San Diego, she had little knowledge of mental health and well-being. She has since been committed to learning new communication and mindfulness methods to promote her own wellness and health. Her goal as a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate is to help decrease stigma surrounding mental health while providing support to fellow graduate students. In her free time, she enjoys nature walking at the beach, baking, and exploring new forms of art such as stained glass and crocheting.


Seraphina-Solders.pngSeraphina Solders (she/her/hers)
Neurosciences Graduate Program, 5th year
San Diego State University, BA in Biology & Psychology

Seraphina is a PhD candidate in the Neurosciences Graduate Program (NGP). As a first-generation college student from a low-income family, she is passionate about helping disadvantaged and historically excluded students navigate the academic world. She chairs the NGP Peer Advising Committee’s Success through Failure panel, facilitating discussions between faculty and students on persevering despite setbacks and hardships in science careers. Shaped by her own experiences healing her childhood trauma, her values include empathetic listening, vulnerability, and fierce self-compassion. To find peace, she enjoys watching the fennec foxes at the San Diego Zoo, strolling through botanical gardens, snuggling her cat, Callie, and reading fantasy and science fiction.


Summer-Zhu.jpgSummer Zhu (she/her/hers)
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health & Human Longevity Science, 1st year
UC Davis, BA in Psychology and Communication

Summer is an international student currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. She recently graduated from UC Davis with dual degrees in Psychology and Communication. She first came to the United States from China as a teenager. Adapting to a brand new culture helped her gain insight into the difficulties and stresses associated with living abroad. Such experience sparked her interest in exploring mental health issues among international students and children. Since then, she has volunteered at a non-profit organization focusing on mental health research in underserved communities. As a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being (GAPSWell) Associate, she looks forward to making a positive impact and sharing her personal experiences with others. In her free time, she loves to arrange fairy gardens and go hiking with her dog, Hailey. Their favorite thing to do is going on evening hikes at Mission Trails.

GAPSWell Alumni

Alejandra Chaidez headshot

Alejandra Chaidez (she/her/hers)
School of Global Policy & Strategy, 2nd year
UC Berkeley, BA in Political Science and Social Welfare

Alejandra is a 2021 Master of Public Policy candidate specializing in Health Policy and Program Design and Evaluation. In 2015, she graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Since then, she has worked for non-profits in research, event planning, grant writing, data analysis and program evaluation. She identifies as transfronteriza/transborder due to her constant interaction and experience with the US-Mexico border. Such experience has inspired her desire to work on improving the opportunities of communities along the border in relation to policy, education and public health. She feels privileged and excited to be one of the Graduate Well-Being Associates this year. Her favorite self-care practices involve singing ballads and rancheras, wearing bright lipstick, playing Among Us with friends, and long, long hours of sleep.


Emily Ho Headshot

Emily Ho (she/her/hers)
Medical Scientist Training Program, 6th year
Neurosciences Graduate Program, 4th year
University of Chicago, BA in Biological Sciences and Psychology

Emily is an MD/PhD candidate currently completing her thesis work in the Neurosciences Graduate Program (NGP). Since beginning her medical and graduate training at UC San Diego in 2015, she has been a fierce advocate for student mental health and believes in celebrating the personhood of her peers. She is the founding member of the Medical Scientist Training Program’s Wellness Committee and active in the NGP’s Peer Advising Committee. As a student representative for UC San Diego’s Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Program, she engages in educational outreach and facilitates debriefing sessions for various units across UC San Diego Health. She fills her cup with gentle yoga at sunset, brave but delicious home-cooked concoctions, deep belly laughs with close friends, and cozy nights with her husband and their furry family.


Thomas Liu headshot

Qihao (Thomas) Liu (he/him/his)
Biological Sciences MS, 1st year
UC San Diego, BS in Neuroscience and Physiology

Thomas is an international student from China currently pursuing an MS degree in Biological Sciences. Sincere communication, attentive listening, and honesty are his top priorities. From his volunteer experience in UC San Diego Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Medicine Unit, he developed a deep interest in personality psychology and the positive impact writing can have on an individual’s mental health. As a Graduate Well-Being Associate, his goal is to provide impactful, evidence-based workshops that will support his peers in achieving the improvements they seek. He identifies as a life-long learner who is committed to his personal growth. For self-care, he enjoys a quiet afternoon with a cappuccino while re-reading and reflecting on his favorite novel Fortress Besieged.


Kennedy Middleton headshot

Kennedy Middleton (she/her/hers)
Political Science Graduate Program, 3rd year
Spelman College, BA in Political Science
UC San Diego, MA in Political Science

Kennedy was raised in Bermuda, a tiny 21 square-mile island in the North Atlantic Ocean. She completed her BA at Spelman College and is now a 3rd year PhD student in the Political Science Department. Her dissertation work is focused on internet censorship and international political economy. Her goal as a Graduate Well-Being Associate is to provide support to underrepresented minority graduate students. She is particularly excited to lead discussions on imposter syndrome/phenomenon, managing professional relationships, and microaggressions. She recognizes the importance of having strategic self-care practices to manage the particular psychosocial stressors experienced by graduate students of color.


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Nina Imani Scott (she/her/hers)
Marine Biology Doctoral Program, 1st year
University of the Virgin Islands, BS in Marine Biology

Nina is a doctoral student in the Marine Biology Graduate Program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In addition to being passionate about understanding life through the lens of the biological adaptations of crustaceans, she also cares deeply about the black graduate student experience. In her marketing role with the Graduate Well-Being Associates, she is invested in making sure black graduate students are aware of the resources they have available to them. She is also excited to fulfill this role using her digital marketing skills previously exercised in the 2019, 13D Student Entrepreneurship Competition. She unapologetically indulges in daily self-care rituals which include long baths, excessive skin and hair care, reading and making time for trashy reality television.

Workshops, Forums and Events

 

ADHD Support Forum for Graduate and Professional Students

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If you are a graduate or professional student who has been diagnosed with ADHD or think you may have ADHD, you may benefit from participation in the ADHD Support Forum, a caring space to share experiences and strategies for better management of ADHD symptoms. Conversations will be facilitated by David Kersey, MD, and Kween Agba, Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associate (GAPSWell). To see if this forum is a good fit for you, please contact David Kersey, MD.

WINTER QUARTER:

Black Community Forum for Graduate and Professional Students

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This a weekly drop-in forum for Black Graduate and Professional Students to foster kinship and receive support through community conversations. Weekly discussion topics are determined by forum participants, and can include imposter syndrome, stress/anxiety, loneliness, family/cultural pressures, and social justice issues. There are even opportunities for forum participants to gain experience as moderators. This community forum embraces and celebrates the diversity of mental and physical abilities, sexual orientations, nationalities, gender expressions, body-sizes, religions, and ages among UCSD’s Black Graduate and Professional Students.

Conversations will be facilitated by Haile Wright, LCSW, CAPS Mental Health Therapist, and Kween Agba, Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associate (GAPSWell).

WINTER QUARTER:

  • Haile Wright, LCSW
  • Wednesdays: 3:00-4:00pm
  • Weeks 3-9
  • Flyer (PDF)

Burn Bright Not Out Support Forum for Graduate and Professional Students

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A supportive drop-in space for graduate and professional students seeking strategies for preventing and overcoming burnout. Common themes include: stress/worry management, sustaining motivation, recovering from set-backs, hybrid/remote work, and navigating interpersonal challenges (personal and professional). Conversations will be facilitated by Dr. Mojgan Jahan, CAPS Psychologist, and Alexis Plazola, Seraphina Solders, Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell).

WINTER QUARTER:

  • Dr. Mojgan Jahan (858-246-4799)
  • Weeks 1-10
  • Tuesdays: 2:00-3:00pm
  • Flyer (PDF)

Grief & Loss Support Forum for Graduate & Professional Students

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If you are a graduate or professional school student who wishes to work through grief and loss related to death of a loved one, you may benefit from participation in this forum, a caring space to share experiences; give and receive support; explore common physical and emotional reactions; honor the uniqueness of each person’s journey; practice self-compassion; and develop emotional resilience. Conversations will be facilitated by Dr. Tyler Hatchel, CAPS Psychologist, and Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell). To see if this forum is a good fit for you, please contact Dr. Tyler Hatchel.

WINTER QUARTER:

International Graduate and Professional Students Support Forum

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Are you an international student who is experiencing culture shock, stress, language barriers, homesickness or just want to connect with your fellow international students? If so, you are not alone and this space is designed for you. In this forum, we can discuss: building community wherever you are; navigating challenges related to living abroad; strategies to thrive in your new environment; prioritizing your well-being; cultivating confidence in new settings; and finding joy in new experiences.

WINTER QUARTER:

Latinx Support Forum for Graduate and Professional Students

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The Graduate and Professional Students Latinx Forum is a place to meet peers and gain support while discussing the multiple experiences one has as a Latinx student here at UC San Diego. This forum is for graduate and professional students. Topics are determined by forum participants and can include imposter syndrome, stress, anxiety, loneliness, family/cultural issues, social justice concerns and excitement about being part of an awesome community. The forum is open to new members throughout the quarter. Conversations will be facilitated by Kimberly Knight-Ortiz, LCSW/CAPS Clinician, and José Delgado, Dania Maldonado, Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell). Come as you are! We look forward to chatting and meeting with you all.

WINTER QUARTER:

  • Kimberly Knight-Ortiz, LCSW
  • Tuesdays, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Weeks 2-9
  • Flyer (PDF)

LGBTQ Community Forum for Graduate & Professional Students

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This forum is meant to create space for community development and a sense of belonging. The content is directed by community members and is often focused on LGBTQ and/or graduate and professional student issues. Examples include personal and professional relationships, queer topics in the academic and media, intersectionality, minority stress, feeling connected during strange times, and coping with imposter syndrome. Conversations will be facilitated by Dr. Tyler Hatchel, CAPS Psychologist, and Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associates (GAPSWell).To see if this forum is a good fit for you, please contact Dr. Tyler Hatchel for more information.

WINTER QUARTER:

Loved Ones with Serious Illness, a Support Forum for Graduate and Professional Students

 

If you are a graduate or professional student who is caring for or concerned about a loved one with a serious, progressive, chronic, debilitating, life-threatening and/or terminal health condition, including serious mental health conditions and/or substance abuse, you may benefit from participation in this forum, a caring space to share experiences; give and receive support; examine meaning of life; practice self-compassion; and explore radical acceptance. Conversations will be facilitated by Dr. Tyler Hatchel, CAPS Psychologist, and Anja Payne, Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associate (GAPSWell). To see if this forum is a good fit for you, please contact Dr. Tyler Hatchel.

WINTER QUARTER:

Request a Program

Request a Program: Virtual

  • Stress Management: Tackling graduate/professional school in the context of COVID-19 and sociopolitical events
  • Imposter Syndrome: Strategies for graduate/professional students
  • Self-Compassion: Building inner strength for graduate/professional school
  • Managing Professional Relationships: Graduate/professional students working with collaborators and advisors
  • Write to Heal: Journaling for well-being in graduate/professional school
  • 16 Graduate Personalities: Optimizing personality for success in graduate/professional school
  • Culture Shock: Feeling at home as an international student in graduate/professional school
  • Burn Bright, Not Out: Preventing and overcoming graduate/professional school burnout
  • Wise Body, Strong Mind: Tips and tricks for using the Mind-Body Connection to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life.
  • Fall Break/Winter Break Vacations or Staycations: Tips to support well-being and revive energy.
  • Managing Transitional Stress: Easing the stress associated with starting grad/prof school or graduating.
  • Mental Health as Inclusion: Reducing mental health microaggressions and stigma in graduate/professional school
  • Supporting Students of Concern (for graduate/professional students who teach, mentor, or supervise other students)
  • Introduction to CAPS Services

Learn more about the programs offered, and request a program for your graduate department or organization.

Become a Graduate and Professional Student Well-Being Associate (GAPSWell)

Applications are currently closed, please check back later.