The faces behind the initiative:

Haley Branch, PhD candidate - Botany
(she/her/hers)
President of the Botany and Zoology Wellness Initiative
Grad school is difficult and we all have struggles. I don't think anyone should go through those alone. 
I started this initiative after realizing that the majority of campus wellbeing initiatives focus on undergraduate students and many graduate students feel isolated. My hope is to reach people across the botany and zoology departments (including faculty) to help create a more resilient community, built on support, better access to resources, and coping strategies. 
I am an advocate for your wellbeing. Please feel free to stop by and chat with me (BRC rm 236) or send me an email at wellness@biodiversity.ubc.ca
Lydia Fong, PhD student - Zoology
(she/her/hers)
Treasurer
Entering grad school has meant a lot of big changes and having participated in the Wellness Initiative activities has really helped me keep myself grounded. This group has already done a lot of things for me and I want to give back in the best way that I can.
Amy Liu, MSc student - Zoology 
(she/her/they/them)
Communications officer
I joined this committee because I struggled through undergrad regarding mental health and wanted to create positive action so that everyone in grad school could have resources to mental wellness. Also I love fish and art and fun stuff!
Mia Waters, PhD student - Zoology
(she/her/hers)
Vice president
Grad school can be a roller coaster of emotions and mental health ups and downs. Having a supportive community to ride along with you changes the experience entirely. I've also realized how important it is to design our roller coasters carefully, renovate as necessary, and build scaffolding that helps to increase strength, resiliency, safety, and enjoyment.

Am I taking this metaphor too far? Probably. But I've been on my own wild ride, and I am passionate about supporting others on theirs!
Darwin Sodhi - PhD candidate - Forestry and Conservation Science (he/him/his)
Outreach coordinator  
I have struggled with mental health issues my entire adult life. Through my struggles, I learned that having a supportive and empathetic community around me was vital in building resilience. I joined this initiative to build the very same type of community that helped me. As graduate students, we can support each other to create a more open, collaborative, and inclusive community.
Karen Thulasi Devendrakumar -
PhD candidate Botany (he/him/his)
Art events director
My first year of grad school was hectic and extremely stressful. I did not feel comfortable accessing resources that UBC provided. I am a part of this initiative because it is grad student run and I think grad students would feel more comfortable getting help from peers, who are going through the same stuff.
Stephanie Blain, PhD candidate - Zoology
(she/her/hers)
Media director
 
I wanted to contribute to the wellness initiative after getting a sense of the prevalence of mental health issues among grad students.
Past members of the Wellness Initiative:
Ellen Nikelski, Vice president
Carla Di Filippo, Event coordinator

This initiative is run by botany and zoology grad students and faculty with the goal of providing better mental health support to grad students. We host stress-relieving events, wellness workshops, provide access to teaching faculty mentors, and advocate for your mental wellness to the departments. Find out more here.

ABOUT THE BOTANY AND ZOOLOGY WELLNESS INITIATIVE