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de-stress Peer Helpers and Coordinators

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Peer Helpers

Megan Anderson

Megan Anderson, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Second Year of Graduate School
Major: Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology Master's student (undergraduate major was Psychology)
Hometown: Eagan, MN
Favorite Food: Mexican Food
Favorite Color: Purple
Favorite Singer: Any country artist
Why I became a Peer Helper: I wanted to be a Peer Helper because I am going to school to be a high school counselor so I wanted to expand my skills on helping students in an educational setting deal with the many stressors that can go along with school, as well as life at this stage.

Audrey Blankenheim

Audrey Blankenheim, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Second Year of Graduate School
Major: Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology
Hometown: Appleton, WI
Favorite Color: de-stress teal
Favorite Band: Bon Iver, Beyonce, Asaf Avidan, and Adele. It changes daily.
Why I became a Peer Helper: College is stressful and finding the right resources can be challenging. I want to do what I can to make the pressures of college seem less daunting for college students.

Jason Callanan

Jason Callanan, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Favorite Food: a tie between Chili and Pizza
Favorite Color: Maroon (and Gold)
Favorite Artist: Action Bronson
Why I became a Peer Helper: I want to be able to help people as a profession and be able to help my peers here at the U of M.

Spencer Caretta

Spencer Caretta, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: First Year of Graduate School
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Onalaska, WI
Favorite Food: Tacos
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Band: Shinedown
Why I became a Peer Helper: I became a peer helper because I wanted to gain counseling experience while also helping fellow students manage their stress levels. College can be a very stressful time for a lot of students and I want to do what I can to help.

Hamdi Farah

Hamdi Farah, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology with a minor in Public Health
Hometown: Richfield, MN
Favorite Food: Dumpling Soup
Favorite Color: pale pink
Favorite Band: Drake, Beyonce, Daughters...too many to choose from
Why I became a Peer Helper: As a college student, I have experienced stress first hand and at times it was difficult to know exactly how to handle each unique situation. I think it is extremely important to understand and implement healthy stress management strategies into our daily life. This is not only vital for our wellness, but also for our ability to become successful academically. As a peer helper, I hope to motivate students to better manage their stress. Similarly, I see this opportunity as a two-way street because as the students learn from me, I know I can learn a lot from them.

Katie Feilen

Katie Feilen, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Rogers, MN
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Band: Don't have a favorite band, but Beyonce is my favorite singer
Why I became a Peer Helper: We all know what it is like to go through the low points in life, but no one should have to know what it is like to go through them alone. I became a Peer Helper because I want to make sure everyone knows they are not alone. Helping people is a passion of mine and I can't wait to meet some amazing people through this program.

Abigail Gabriel

Abigail Gabriel, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Santa Clara, CA
Favorite Food: Ramen, udon, arroz caldo. Essentially: I love soup!
Favorite Color: Dark red or beige
Favorite Band: My taste oscillates between Beach House and Drake.
Why I became a Peer Helper: I am passionate about mental health literacy and accessibility across diverse populations, including one as rich with cultural and individual diversity as the U of M community. As a Peer Helper, I am excited to support students as they use de-stress to learn and practice stress-management techniques that can promote healthy minds and bodies throughout college and later life experiences.

Christina Garasky

Christina Garasky, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Junior
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Kirkwood, MO
Favorite Food: Pasta
Favorite Color: Navy Blue
Favorite Band: Daughtry
Why I became a Peer Helper: I became a Peer Helper because it is a great opportunity to help others and get more involved with the University.

Joanna Geisler

Joanna Geisler, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Sociology with Public Health and Family Social Science minors
Hometown: Brookfield, WI
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Color: Gray or blue
Favorite Band: Tough question, but Sufjan Stevens, Tame Impala, Bon Iver, and Poliça are some all-time favorites
Why I became a Peer Helper: It's so important to address mental health on campus, especially when so many students feel like they have to tackle stress and other mental health issues on their own. Having the opportunity to schedule a stress check-in and talk to someone about what's going on in their lives is such a great option, and I can't wait to be helping students in this way.

Stacy Kiven

Stacy Kiven, destress@umn.edu
Year in school: Sophomore
Major: Psychology, BS
Hometown: Woodbury, MN
Favorite color: plum
Favorite band: Westlife
Why I became a de-stress Peer Helper: As someone who has been through really stressful situations, I know how negatively it can impact your studies, social circles and day-to-day interactions. I also know that talking to someone can help one move past these situations. That's basically why I became a de-stress peer helper. It is also fulfilling to be that person that anyone can feel comfortable enough to share their worries and hardships with.

Brenisen Linden

Brenisen Linden, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Physiology
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Favorite Food: Pad Thai
Favorite Color: Purple
Favorite Band: Bastille
Why I became a Peer Helper: College is a tremendous responsibility that can induce a lot of stress. Managing this stress is crucial to being successful in college and life in general. I strive to aid my peers with reducing their stress as much as possible so they can lead ambitious lives while remaining healthy and happy.

Wenqi Luo

Wenqi Luo, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Math/Psychology
Hometown: Wuhan, China
Favorite Food: Berries, frozen yogurt and spicy food
Favorite Color: violet and blue
Favorite Band: Spanish and French songs, jazz and classical music
Why I became a Peer Helper: Although it's common for all college students to feel stressed out, no one deserves to endure the sadness and stress alone. Feeling like being supported, listened to and understood during the time of difficulty is really important. I would like to be the one to give you a hand, to stand by you and with you. This also fits with my dream career as a psychotherapist, my passion and my strengths.

Ali Miller

Ali Miller, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Junior
Major: Biology, Society, and the Environment
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Favorite Food: Peanut butter
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Band: Taylor Swift
Why I became a Peer Helper: I am interested in counseling, and I've always tried to help my friends and family work through problems. I also want all college students to know that in any struggle they are going through, they are not alone, and they will get through it.

Elly Orcutt

Elly Orcutt, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Junior
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Mankato, MN
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Favorite Color: Gray
Favorite Band: Brandi Carlile, Bruce Springsteen, Dawes, and Alanis Morissette
Why I became a Peer Helper: Sometimes we have problems that are too big to deal with on our own, or we may not have anyone to talk to about the things that we struggle with. The Peer Helper program at the U of M is an invaluable tool for students in these situations and I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to help others one-on-one when they are stressed or just need someone to talk to.

Ben Parchem

Ben Parchem, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Favorite Food: Chicken Alfredo and anything potato
Favorite Color: Earth tones
Favorite Bands: Pentatonix, Tori Kelly, Jess Glynne, Beyonce, and MisterWives
Why I became a Peer Helper: As a third year student I understand the stressors and anxiety that come with working toward a college education, and I believe I have developed good strategies to cope with and overcome these hurdles. My passions have always strongly aligned with the brain and mental health; additionally my future goals include clinical psychology. The Peer Helper program offers me the opportunity to lend a helpful ear to students in order to assist them in managing their everyday difficulties inherent with academic goals and social health.

Ryan Singh

Ryan Singh, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Junior
Major: Physiology
Hometown: Deerfield, IL
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Band: Blink-182
Why I became a Peer Helper: I understand that stress is a major mental health issue. Due to this, I would like to help others be able to cope with the stresses they face.

Prerna Subramanian

Prerna Subramanian, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Favorite Food: Chaat (Indian)
Favorite Color(s): Red and White
Favorite Band: Beatles, Shreya Goshal, Arijit Singh
Why I became a Peer Helper: College is an important component of discovering yourself, and along with that comes several challenges that can cause stress and make you feel alone. As a Peer Helper, I want to support my fellow peers by creating an open and comforting environment to discuss any problems.

Abbie Van Handel

Abbie Van Handel, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Health and Wellness
Hometown: Appleton, WI
Favorite Food: Coffee (or anything caffeinated)
Favorite Color: Grey
Favorite Band: Kevin Garrett, George Ezra, Adele (it changes very often)
Why I became a Peer Helper: Stress is something all college students experience at one point in their academic careers and this should not prevent students from achieving their goals. Based on my own experience, additional emotional support from others has had a valuable and positive impact. I hope as a de-stress Peer Helper I can provide that support through listening and providing a safe space for others.

Salma Warsame

Salma Warsame, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Favorite Food: Lasagna, anything my mom makes, and anything spicy.
Favorite Color: Teal and Coral
Why I became a Peer Helper: I've experienced many stressors over the course of my college career. I knew that if I didn't manage my stress in a healthy and effective way, then the stressors would lead to a decline in my mental health. With that in mind, the topic of stress has always interested me and I've always wanted to help people overcome daily stressors, the same way that I was helped overcome some difficulties in my life.

Nicole Woodall

Nicole Woodall, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Second Year of Graduate School
Major: Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Color: Teal and maroon
Favorite Band: Coldplay, ODESZA
Why I became a Peer Helper: As a Peer Helper, I want to help students reach their potential and gain healthy strategies through the stressful, yet rewarding experience of college. I have a passion for helping others and I am excited to give back to the community in this unique way.

Coordinators

Alyssa Naef

Alyssa Naef, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Nursing
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Favorite Food: My mom's green bean casserole! But blueberry pancakes are delicious too!
Favorite Color: Dark grays and dark navies
Favorite Bands: This is one of the most difficult questions you could ask me, but I would say Alabama Shakes, Grizzly Bear, Foxygen, Modest Mouse, Bahamas, Soul Low, Bon Iver, Tennis, Coolshark, Cyberbully Mom Club, and of course the Beach Boys

Why I wanted to be a de-stress coordinator: As a current college student, I experience and witness the consequences of improper stress management that life brings at this age. The artful tactics of healthily dealing with both positive and negative stress excite and interest me, and they will be even more important to know in the future when I am a nurse working with tense or worried patients. As excellent practice now, I am thrilled to be helping educate members of the University community about these essential methods and the hundreds of resources that are available to help them look after themselves!

Ben Parchem

Ben Parchem, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Favorite food: Anything gluten-free that isn't flavor-free
Favorite color: Earth tones
Favorite band: Jess Glynne, Pentatonix, Tori Kelly, Beyonce, and Drake

Why I wanted to be a stress coordinator: After completing my first successful semester with de-stress, I was eager to gain a more influential role in the program. Finishing my undergraduate education at the U this year, I understand the stressors and anxiety that come with working toward a college degree, and I believe I have developed strong coping strategies to face these hurdles. My passions have always coincided with mental health and psychology, and working as a de-stress coordinator I am afforded the opportunity to lend a helpful ear to fellow peers while evoking change on stigma and student well-being.

Brian Ruedinger

Brian Ruedinger, destress@umn.edu
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Two Rivers, WI
Favorite food: Chimichangas
Favorite color: Green
Favorite band: Halsey

Why I wanted to be a de-stress coordinator: I want there to be a resource on campus that students feel comfortable going to, since they may not feel their concerns are important enough to discuss with a psychologist. I think students need to be aware that mental health concerns impact a wide range of people and that the University cares about their well-being. I want to grow the de-stress group and inspire other universities to create similar organizations on their campuses.

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de-stress
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