Ambassadors will strengthen student health and well-being
Whether Claremont McKenna students seek a shoulder for support, help with making a big decision, or simply need a good listener, there are now six Peer Health Ambassadors—all CMCers— available to assist.
The Dean of Students office began the new campus initiative this spring with the Peer Health Ambassadors settling into the Heggblade Annex to offer daily doses of helpful advice, as well as to host wellness-related workshops, programs, and events to cultivate a healthy culture.
“We want to increase health positivity on our campus,” said Dianna “DT” Graves’98, assistant vice president and dean of students. “The Peer Health Ambassadors will be a tremendous help in strengthening our student community by focusing on inclusive well-being as a central feature of our office’s broader, evidence-based, socio-ecological framework.”
Chantal Izaguirre, director of health promotion and student support, who administers the program, began seeking students to fulfill these roles during the fall semester. “We were looking for peer educators who have a good ability to listen and understand others, to be supportive, trustworthy, and be able to serve as a consultant to their peers and provide honest and constructive feedback to them,” she said. “We really wanted to find highly empathetic students who can foster trust with their peers.”
Three first-year students and three sophomores were selected, with each completing NASPA Certified Peer Educator Training.
Kaavya Narayan ’25, who aspires to a career in the healthcare/sciences sector, jumped at the opportunity.
“It is important for me to be an advocate for and educator on student well-being on campus because I want people to know that you can make the most of your college experience while living as your healthy, best self,” she said. “College is an extremely stimulating and novel environment for everyone. When you step onto campus, you are faced with decisions, people, and events that you might never have dealt with before. New experiences and decisions coupled with the challenges of exploring your identity and finding a home away from home can take a large toll on our physical and mental health.”
Sophia Castellanos ’26, who launched a mental health wellness program at her high school in Hawthorne, Calif., said she appreciates that her fellow peer health ambassadors are either in their first or second years at CMC because “we’ll be able to grow with this program.”
“We’ll each be available in the Annex Monday through Friday, so anybody who wants to talk can come into a safe environment that's comfortable,” she continued, noting that each ambassador will also take on a specific mental health topic to teach, ranging from the importance of healthy eating to how to detect when a relationship is toxic.
As an international student, José Najas ’25 hopes to equip CMC students, who are also far away from their home countries, “with the mental mechanisms to deal with the distressing separation from home and difficult acclimatization to their new home.”
Dual majoring in psychology and neuroscience, Najas hails from Ecuador and plans “to help people for a living. I find enormous joy in being able to contribute to people’s growing ability to cope with life's trials and tribulations as well as their overall well-being,” he said.
Izaguirre said she anticipates that the Peer Health Ambassadors “will have really creative ideas for dynamic programming.” She also acknowledged that, as students themselves, they “may not be able to solve every student's problem, but they will be able to serve as that link between students and professional staff members and help guide them to resources.”
Peer Health Ambassadors will be available in The Heggblade Annex Monday-Friday. Chantal Izaguirre is also available to assist students in Heggblade, Room 106.
Learn more about the mental health resources at CMC.