Peer Health Advisors
Peer Health Advisers (PHAs) are students trained to provide support and referrals for other students with health-related concerns. Talk to them about anything from sexual health, sleep or alcohol to nutrition or stress and mental health. PHAs also generate awareness of health issues through campaigns, events and programs such as Safer Sex Jeopardy, the Sexpert Column, Test Your Mood screenings, and new programs to be designed by the PHAs. Meet some of them below!
LGBT Peer Educators
The LGBT Peer Educators conduct educational panels and are peers who can talk anytime about issues relating to sexuality and gender identity. For more information or to contact a Peer Educator, check out the LGBT Peer Education Program, which is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. Meet some of them below!
SHARE Peer Advisors
Brandon Holt ’15, Whitman | SHARE
Hey, y’all! I’m Brandon and I’m a sophomore from Nashville, Tennessee. On campus I’m involved in Mock Trial, Princeton Model Congress, the Daily Princetonian and LGBT Center! If you ever see me around campus and want to talk, I’ve got your back, so just give me a holler!
Jennifer Zhao ’15, Rockefeller | SHARE
My name is Jennifer Zhao. I’m from Camarillo, CA. Like any Southern Californian, I enjoy being outside, going on hikes, and Tupac. I’m a SHARE peer advisor and also volunteer for a non-profit organization that works to exonerate wrongfully convicted criminals. I joined SHARE because SHARE related issues happen everyday and impact every member of the community.
There needs to be a more open discussion about mental health at Princeton. We may be smart, interesting, involved, amazing Princeton students but we are humans first.
Serena Sonderegger ’14, Butler | SHARE
Hi! I am a junior in the Economics Department with a certificate in Political Economy. I am from Berkeley, California, and am very much missing the weather there! I am involved in Club Swimming and Chabad on Campus, and I love to run in my free time.
I feel that we should start open dialogue about mental health because so many people on our campus suffer from mental health issues, no matter how slight, and do not know how to deal with them. Being a SHARE peer is important to me because I am letting all victims know that I am there for them, and I am working towards a safer space for women on our campus and outside of our campus.
Katharine Heinz ’15, Forbes | SHARE
My name is KB Heinz and I’m a sophomore here at Princeton. I’m from Indiana and I’m majoring in sociology. I’ve been a SHARE Peer for about a year now and absolutely love it! Besides SHARE work I’m also an EMT in town and volunteer at the Princeton Senior Center.
Having a healthful mind is a really important part of keeping my life in balance, and having an open dialogue about mental health with my peers and friends is one of the best ways I’ve found to keep that balance! I’m excited for Mental Health Week, and the role I can play as a SHARE peer in supporting my fellow students!
Charlie Fortin ’15, Mathey | Peer Health Advisor
Hey everyone! I’m a sophomore from Atlanta, GA, and I love the Peer Health Advisor (PHA) program. I’m also involved in Team U, a fundraising running organization, and I think that learning to keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically, as well as finding time to help others, are some of the most important things that you can learn in college.
Princeton students are busy and stressed with too many activities and difficult classes, not to mention countless other social, family, economic, etc. obligations, which makes that much more important that students who are coping well take the time to help out those who are struggling. Whether it’s talking to a friend, helping a confused freshman, or explaining university resources, we all need to play a part in making sure that no Princeton student loses sight of his or her mental health!
Angela Jiang ’13, Butler | Peer Health Advisor
I am a senior ORFE major from West Lafayette, Indiana. On campus, I am a Peer Health Adviser, an officer in the Engineering Council, and a member of Colonial Club. I am also on the club tennis team and love to run in my spare time!
Staying healthy, both mentally and physically, in an environment as stressful as Princeton is super important — that is why there are PHAs out there to help if you ever need to talk to anyone about health issues or concerns. Even if you are just a little stressed about schoolwork or worried about a social issue, it’s usually helpful to talk about it with someone. We’ll gladly lend an ear any time and direct you to the right professionals if needed.
Kristin Wilson ’14, Wilson | Peer Health Advisor
Kristin is from some place in the world and is currently concentrating in the department of Comparative Literature with Creative Writing, East Asian Studies and Neuroscience certificates.On campus, Kristin is variously involved with Civic Engagement, primarily through the Mental Health Forum, the Pace Center, the Writers Studio, the International Food Co-op, Whitman College Life and the Religious Life Council.
Dialogue about mental health is important only to the extent that it begins to create real positive changes in the way that we look at our experience of Princeton. The information available suggests that it is normal to have bad mental health here at Princeton. It is important to remember though that ‘normal’ is by no means healthy or good.
Graham Peigh ’13, Mathey | Peer Health Advisor
Hey guys. I’m Graham from the great city of Chicago. I’m currently a senior psychology major, and will be heading to medical school in the fall. I have been lucky enough to be one of the founders of and Residential College Coordinators for the Peer Health Advisors on campus. Along with being a PHA, I am also a Leader Trainer for Outdoor Action, an Academic Consultant for the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, and help run Peak Potential (an organization that teaches children with Cerebral Palsy how to rock climb as a form of physical therapy). Outside of the bubble, I’m a PADI Professional SCUBA Diver and love golfing.
The only way to help students struggling with mental health is to make access to the proper care as easy as possible. By beginning a dialogue through Mental Health Week, Princeton starts to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and lower barriers students may face when contemplating seeking help. I think that Mental Health Week is a spectacular way to get Princeton students talking, and I look forward to being a part of it as a Peer Health Advisor, and as a McGraw Learning Consultant.
Annaliese Ionson ’15, Whitman | Peer Health Advisor
Hi! My name is Anna. I am from a small town in Ontario, Canada. I am on the women’s rowing team and I am an intern at the Women’s Center. I love meeting new people on our busy campus and going to different events! I like to unwind by watching my favourite TV show, Grey’s Anatomy.
I believe that mental health is an area that is often overlooked. Sometimes, the symptoms of poor mental health are not immediately recognized or addressed, and things can worsen. Mental health affects all areas of one’s life. Princeton can be a very stressful place, and I strongly believe that having support and help available from both peers and professionals is crucial to happy, healthier students. As a peer advisor, and someone who has experienced a fair amount of stress too, I would like to be available as a resource and friend to anyone who has mental health concerns or just wants to talk.
Rachel Bronheim ’15, Mathey | SHARE
Hi! My name is Rachel Bronheim, and I’m a sophomore from Great Neck, NY. In addition to being a SHARE peer, I am involved with the CJL, Whig-Clio, and the Student Bioethics Forum.
I think open dialogue about mental health is so important because it would allow more students to get the help they need without feeling scared or judged. This is important to me because an open dialogue about mental health could lead to healthier and happier students–which is one of my goals as a peer advisor.
Augusta Powell ’15, Wilson | SHARE
My name is Gussie and I’m a sophomore studying Sociology with a certificate in African American Studies. I grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand. I am also a tutor for the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program and involved in a new club on campus that works towards prison reform.
Gerardo Veltri ’15, Rockefeller | LGBT Peer Educator
I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. Most of my interest lies in the arts and humanities. I work at WPRB Princeton 103.3 FM and at the Art museum.
Briana Wilcox ’13, Rockefeller | LGBT Peer Educator
Hello, my name’s Briana. I’m a first-generation Uruguayan from the LA area. I’m majoring in Psychology with certificates in Neuroscience and the Teacher Preparation Program. In addition to being an LGBT peer educator, I am the president of Princeton’s belly dance troupe, Raks O, an alto in the Chapel Choir, and a co-manager of the Murray-Dodge Cafe! I love procrastinating on my thesis, so please feel free to start a conversation with me!
What is so crucial about being a peer educator is that it gives a face and a name to the promise “We are here to help you.” By completing training, by being available to those who need someone to listen, I hope I can give someone else the help I so badly needed both freshman year (adjusting to the “culture shock”) and sophomore year (had to negotiate the coming-out process and conflict at home). There is NOT enough honest conversation about mental health- or any kind of human frailty, for that matter- on this campus. We need to develop a culture where it is safe to acknowledge “weakness” and ask for support. We suffer silently in shame and there is NO REASON to!
Shayla Reid ’15, Mathey | Peer Health Advisor, LGBT Peer Educator
Hi! I’m Shayla and I’m from Plainsboro, New Jersey. I’m involved in a lot of discussion-based groups on campus. I love interacting with people and think dialogue is great way to share our experiences and gain a deeper understanding of one another. I’m a mod for Sustained Dialogue and I run a group called The Lotus Café which is an open discussion space. We talk about often ignored issues on campus such as race, socioeconomic status, and of course, mental health. In terms of academics, I am premed and studying Spanish and Portuguese and global health. But most importantly, I am also known as Mama ShayShay and I will bake you vegan chocolate chip cookies, offer you tea, and share ridiculous YouTube videos with you. Laughing is the best.
Here at Princeton, I think that we often do not prioritize self-care and neglect our own personal needs. To me, being a peer advisor is about making sure my fellow Princetonians are remembering that their health and wellbeing are most important because without them, finding happiness and success will be much more difficult. I love to be a resource to be people and check in on people. I hope to remind others that college is not just about academic or extracurricular achievements, but also about self-growth and building fulfilling relationships with fellow students, professors, and staff. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be kind to yourself, and I hope to remind people of this fact and be a helpful friend to the greater Princeton community.
Isabelle Laurenzi ’15, Wilson | SHARE
I am a sophomore from Mountain Lakes, NJ who loves all things humanities, with special interests in philosophy, religion, and literature. On campus, I am the President of SHARE, a member of the Women’s Mentorship Program, and a resident of Wilson College. When I’m not reading in Marquand or the Trustee Reading Room, you can find me playing my violin with musician friends or reading and writing at Small World Coffee. I’d love to talk with you, so if you see me around say hello!
I believe that mental health is just as an important part of overall health and well-being as physical health, especially for high-achieving Princeton students such as we are. In the same way that we openly talk about going to the gym or trying to eat a well balanced diet – and just as we notice when one of our friends is not taking good care of him/herself physically – we should also get in the habit of openly talking about the ways we can take care of ourselves mentally and be attuned to when we are not. While being a SHARE peer does not necessarily put me in direct contact with mental health issues, my role is one that advocates for and works towards a safer, more healthy campus life, and having a dialogue about mental health is certainly part of that larger goal.
Sarah Trebat-Leder ’13, Butler | LGBT Peer Educator
I’m a math major from Pennsylvania, and am going to graduate school next year. I’ve been involved in pretty much everything math related on campus, including PUMaC and math club. I’m also interested in neuroscience, and I love to teach.
Dixon Li ’14, Rockefeller | LGBT Peer Educator
Hi all! My name is Dixon and I’m a Jr. in the English department. I’m originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, like cats, books, reality t.v., and yogurt. On campus I help coordinate Community Action, work at the Art Museum and am a writing fellow.
Though it might sound trite, the only way to work through difficult emotions is to talk about them. Mental health is much more complicated than physical health, though the former always affects the latter. Just like you need exercise to keep your physical body healthy, dialogue/discussion and its less formal-sounding cognates, small talk and chit chat, are necessary activities to keep yourself in balance.
As an LGBT center peer educator, I want to make myself available to talk about LGBT (and even non-LGBT related) issues that might feel too charged or uncomfortable to bring up in regular conversation.
Naimah Hakim ’15, Wilson | LGBT Peer Educator
Hey, everyone! My name is Naimah (pronounced “Nie-EE-muh” for those of you who are curious) and I’m from Westchester County, New York. I’m planning on majoring in Anthropology and I’m really interested in cross-cultural dialogue and issues related to gender and race. Here at Princeton, I spend a lot of time singing with the Glee Club and performing in numerous theatre productions around campus. I also love making new friends, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to talk about things both related and unrelated to LGBT topics!
Before and since coming to Princeton, I have had many experiences encountering mental health issues– personally, as well as with family and friends. I have come to learn how truly important it is for us to take these issues seriously and encourage others around us to do the same. I’m tremendously thankful to people in my life who know that even seemingly small gestures have the potential to create a more open environment for honest conversations. I think the best step that anyone can take is asking others how they’re doing– and really mean it. Resist the temptation to breeze by after you hear “Fine, thanks.” Dig deeper. People’s honest answers may surprise you!
Nick Ellis ’14, Butler | LGBT Peer Educator
I’m a junior in the religion department from Austin, TX. On campus, I’m a Wilson RCA, IvyQ leader, Senior Writer for the Prince, and an LGBT Peer Educator for Butler College. I’m interested in exploring intersections of sexuality and religion, with a focus on queer issues in Christianity. If you see me around campus, or have questions about LGBT or faith issues, feel free to say hi!
It is a great sign of strength to be able to talk publicly about your insecurities and weaknesses. If we can’t openly acknowledge and affirm people in their entirety, we will continue to deny people the support and friendship they deserve. It’s up to us to create a culture in which our greatest hardships and fears aren’t stigmatized and suppressed, so that they can be sustained, supported, and healed.
Alexandra Bailin ’13, Rocky | Peer Health Advisor
Hi! I’m Alex and I’m from New Haven, CT (YALE SUCKS!). I am a psychology major writing my thesis on racial disparities in mental health. After serving as Secretary for Healthy Minds, I served on the committee responsible for creating the Peer Health Advising system and am now a Residential College Coordinator. I am also a research assistant in the psychology department, a Project Coordinator for Creative Minds (a program in which students are paired with a resident at Merwick Rehabilitation Center to encourage expression through various forms of media), Vice President of the Student Bioethics Forum, and a mentor in the Freshman Premedical Mentorship Program. I like to de-stress by going to the gym (and could always use a buddy so hit me up! seriously) and I am obsessed with the TV show Castle. Please feel free to reach out to me with any health- or non-health-related issues, or just to say hi!
If you deal with mental health issues, in any capacity, you are in the majority. I sincerely hope that in the near future, stigma is replaced by dialogue and shame is replaced by courage.
Mental health impacts all areas of our lives, including our physical health. I hope that this week, you take the time to consider how you might improve your mental health and consider discussing your feelings and ideas with friends, family, or peer advisors. Even going to the gym a few times and week or getting a few extra hours of sleep each night can make a huge difference! Again, I am here for all students as a resource and friend so please reach out to me for advice or just to chat.
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