CAPS Student Hero: Tiffany Liao

If you’ve been following the CAPS blog or our Facebook page, you’ve certainly heard about our Let’s Talk drop in program, where students can stop by for an anonymous conversation with a counselor at locations around campus. Tiffany Liao is the designer who put together our new ad campaign! You’ll see examples of her work around campus on posters and postcards this Fall. Tiffany, for all your hard work and creativity this year, CAPS thanks you!

CAPS marketing team member, Tiffany Liao

Tiffany Liao, Student Marketing Team

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

Other than the obvious fact that we are surrounded by redwood trees and beautiful beaches, I love how UCSC is different not only in terms of its location, but also its opportunities. UCSC pushes me to pursue areas that I’ve always wanted to pursue such as art and design. It provides so many great opportunities for people to chase after their dreams. I also love the friendly community, especially the Christian communities on campus. They are a strong support system for me in UCSC.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I love making people laugh, spending time with people, traveling, listening to all types of music, sketching and doing graphic arts, and reading. Traveling is a huge part of my life; during my 10 years in china, I was fortunate enough to travel to places in Thailand, Japan, Qinghai (near Tibet), and many other areas. I love pulling myself out of my own culture, and immersing into other cultures. They allow me to think of life in ways I’ve never seen possible if I were to stay in my own culture. I wish to travel more places in the future!

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is an amazing on-campus resource` not only for students who are struggling with college, but also for students who are willing to help those in need. The staff at CAPS are extremely friendly who genuinely care about students’ needs and success. They taught me so many useful skills about the “real-world” ahead. They are great people that work hard to improve student life on campus!

Tiffany Liao is a second year College 9 student, studying psychology and art.

CAPS Student Hero: Gisselle Stayerman

One of our newest initiatives at CAPS is our Peer Education Program (PEP). The CAPS peers help support the mission of our counseling center by fighting stigma, facilitating workshops, helping with marketing, and other projects. Today’s student hero is Gisselle Stayerman, a member of our first peer educator class! If you’d like to be a hero like Gisselle, keep an eye on the blog in upcoming weeks for information on volunteer opportunities with PEP or our Student Advisory Board.

CAPS Peer Educator Gisselle Stayerman

CAPS Peer Educator Gisselle Stayerman

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

My favorite thing about being a UCSC student, is being able to step out of class and be surrounded by nature. There are many cool spots to discover throughout campus.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

My favorite thing to do in my free time is to travel to new places, and explore new cultures. I also love listening to music and creating art. I am passionate about building supportive and empowering communities by addressing social justice issues such as economic inequality, discrimination, and education about mental health from a psychosocial perspective.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

The fast pace of the academic life style can be stressful; you should know that you have a place to turn to when you need some advice. CAPS has a very warm and professional staff that can help you with whatever you are going through, and provide you with valuable life skills. The services are confidential and FREE!

CAPS Student Hero: Ryan Rocha

Ryan is a double hero to CAPS because he just finished his SECOND year on our Student Advisory Board, where he helps advocate for students’ needs, including sharing his perspective how CAPS can serve the needs of the queer community on campus.  Ryan, we are grateful for all that you do!


CAPS Student Advisory Board member Ryan Rocha

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

The unorthodox feel of it all; not many universities are situated in a nest of redwoods overlooking the ocean, have an indigenous gastropod as their mascot, or are as progressively queer-welcoming as to have founded the world’s first gender-neutral queer frarority, Theta Pi Sigma, which I belong to.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I’m passionate about migraines, studying the nervous system, contemplating life, running the OPERS track in the dark of the night, unleashing my creative juices through small projects, and long, barefoot walks on the beach upon sunfall.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is a completely confidential service with an amicable and approachable team of people who care, and — perhaps what most students like to hear — it’s free! Even if you don’t think you need to see a psychologist, give one session a try; what have you got to lose? Gain some insight on your thoughts and feel yourself grow.

Ryan Rocha is a 4th year student affiliated with College Eight. He is double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology.

Battling Burnout

Tips for Finishing Strong in Spring Quarter

By Blair Davis, Psy.D.

The school year is almost over. This time of year can bring burnout, especially for those students who are about to graduate. Although it can be tough to revitalize so close to the end of spring quarter, there are ways to turn things around. Following are some tips that can help you get through and even feel more motivated for finishing up the year.

Prioritize: If you have low motivation and energy for your schoolwork, it’s important to figure out what’s the most important stuff to work on and what can wait (or even be forgotten entirely!). It can help to make a grid of four squares in which the top left square contains tasks that are due soon and are important (e.g., a paper that counts for half your grade and is due in a few days). These are the most important things to focus on now. The top right square is for important things that are not due yet but need to get done (e.g., a paper that is half your grade and due in 2 weeks). The bottom left is for less important tasks that are due soon (e.g., a quiz tomorrow that is only worth 10%), and the bottom right square is for unimportant items that aren’t due any time soon—maybe these are the tasks you can forget about!

Take Breaks: Don’t just study for hours on end. Make time for short breaks to help clear your head and build energy. For example, try working for one hour, then taking a 5-minute walk or stretch break. Or, spend 90 minutes reading one chapter, then allow yourself 10 minutes to grab a snack.

Separate Work Time from “Fun” Time: Make a schedule and try to stick to it so that you have time set aside for work and time for relaxing and socializing. When you’re working, just focus on work—turn off your phone, close or block Facebook, resist distractions. Then, when it’s play time, allow yourself to totally relax and get away from work.

Change It Up: If you always study in one place, try working in a new spot, just to keep things interesting. If you usually take the same route to class, try a different path. Make a lunch or coffee date with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Variety can help combat boredom and burnout.

Don’t Ignore Self-Care: When students are busy, they often let important stuff like sleeping, exercising and eating well slide. Sure, it’s tough to balance it all, but if you are sleep-deprived, living on coffee and sugar and not getting any physical activity, your energy levels and mood will probably be pretty low. Studies have shown that students who take time for exercise as well as studying do better on exams than those who just spend all their time studying. Find a balance that works for you, but make sure to take care of yourself.

Motivate Yourself: It can be hard to feel motivated when you’re burned out, but there are some things that may help. First, try to keep things in perspective. Remind yourself of the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing—maybe it’s to learn, maybe to get a good job, maybe to feel accomplished. Whatever the reason, try not to lose sight of it. Give yourself positive and encouraging messages. Consider rewarding yourself when you finish a task; for example, allow yourself to watch an episode of your favorite show every time you finish a set of math problems.

Dr. Blair Davis is a staff psychologist who specializes in Alcohol and Other Drug concerns. She is located at Stevenson College.

May is Mental Health Month

Mental health is an important issue for everyone. Research suggests that 1 in 4 college students will experience a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their academic career, and virtually everyone experiences transient symptoms such as stress, anxiety, or depressed mood from time to time. If you’re reading this, chances are that you or someone close to you is currently struggling with their mental or emotional well-being in some way.

Despite the pervasiveness of the issue, we often treat mental health as a taboo topic. As a counselor at CAPS, I find that students often worry that talking about or taking care of their mental health means they are “crazy,” “weak,” or “being dramatic.” However, avoiding the topic only serves to exacerbate the problem.

Mental Health Month has been celebrated every May nationwide for the past 65 years as a way to keep the public informed.  This event hopes to help people recognize that mental health is an important part of our overall well-being, and empower people to take care of their mental health without stigma or shame. This year, the theme is “Mind Your Health”, focusing on strategies every person can use to improve and maintain their mental health.


2014 Poster Contest Winner by Rick Van Zant

Looking for a step that you can take today? Make a list of 5 healthy things you do to take care of yourself. For example, my list would include things like spending time with friends, eating healthy, or going to a yoga class. Over the past week, how much time have you spent on each of these? Think of specific examples. If you are like many busy students, you may find you’ve spent very little time on your self-care. The problem with this is that when we neglect self-care, we just can’t function at our best. When we’re not sleeping, our memory and learning suffers and our all-nighters end up undermining our test performance. When we’re neglecting our relationships, we miss out on the social support we need and end up feeling burned out and isolated.

Take a minute now to make a plan for how to include 1-2 good self-care activities into your week. If you’re struggling for ideas, check out The Compassion Project’s blog for some inspiration.

CAPS Student Hero: Danielle Ochoa

From now until the end of the academic year, we’ll be bringing you a double dose of our wonderful CAPS Student Heroes! Today, say hello to Danielle Ochoa (and her beautiful dog!). Danielle is one of our Student Advisory Board members who helps bring a student’s perspective to CAPS. By the way, if you’re looking to become a student hero too, keep an eye on the blog for information on applying to the SAB for next academic year!

SAB Member Danielle Ochoa

Danielle Ochoa, Student Advisory Board Member

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

Being able to make my family proud of me for following my dreams and representing my hometown.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I am very passionate about being there for my family and friends. I also like exercising and staying fit. One way of doing this is playing soccer with my friends on the weekends.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

As a freshman, I didn’t even know CAPS existed. Later in the year, I learned of CAPS and the many opportunities it has for its students. My goal is to see that everyone knows what CAPS is and what it has to offer.

Danielle Ochoa is a sophomore psychology major affiliated with Oakes College.

CAPS Student Hero: Alina Crom

Hi Slugs! And thanks for checking out a special mid-week edition of CAPS Student Heroes. So far this year, we’ve been featuring our fantastic Student Advisory Board Members, but today we’re profiling Alina Crom, a member of our very first class of CAPS Peer Educators. Alina, thanks for being a part of CAPS – we appreciate all that you do!

Alina Crom UCSC CAPS

Alina Crom, CAPS Peer Educator

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

I love how the people here are all so friendly and helpful. The professors and staff genuinely care about you and let you know about all the awesome opportunities at this university. I think that I’ve really grown as a person because of all the things I’ve involved myself in on campus.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I am passionate about art (I love to draw and paint), and making desserts. Baking is very therapeutic for me, and it makes me happy to know that my desserts make other people smile as well. Aside from that, one of my newly awakened passions is definitely traveling. I lived in Cusco, Peru for two months this past Summer to learn Spanish and volunteer in a children’s clinic. It was an incredible journey, and I wish everyone could experience the same things I did. This picture of me was taken in a Peruvian zoo, I wanted to take that little deer home!

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

I wish that everyone knew that CAPS really is an amazing service. All of the people who work there are committed to helping students. It’s actually not that hard to set up an appointment (just go online!), and if it is an actual emergency, it is possible to receive assistance right away. I guess that I just want people to know that it’s totally okay, and that there shouldn’t be a stigma against going to CAPS.

Alina Crom is a third year College Ten student, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Linguistics.

Meet Dr. Audrey Kim, Staff Psychologist

It’s been a long time, friends! We’ve been away from the blog, busy getting Spring Quarter off the ground, but we’re back today with our ongoing feature, Meet the CAPS Staff. Today we’re featuring Dr. Audrey Kim, one of our longest-running psychologists on the CAPS staff. She is a wealth of information and experience! Audrey is also one of our Let’s Talk counselors, so you can drop by and meet her at Baskin on Thursdays between 2:30-4:30 for a quick, anonymous chat.

Staff psychologist Audrey Kim

Audrey Kim, Ph.D.


What is your position at CAPS, and how long have you been working at UCSC?

I’ve been a Staff Psychologist at UCSC since 2001. It’s kind of weird feeling for me to have been here for so long. . . . I moved around a lot when I was growing up and then moved every few years for schools and jobs. But it’s hard to leave once you land in Santa Cruz!

What is your favorite part of your job?

I really appreciate hearing each student’s unique story– it’s amazing how everyone is so different, and yet we are so similar in the ways we struggle. When you’re in the middle of your
own crisis, it can be difficult to have enough perspective to make sense of what’s going on, and it’s easy to feel stuck. I love helping students piece together the puzzle of their life, and figure out new ways to address their problems and become unstuck.

Tell our readers about one of your favorite spots on campus or in Santa Cruz.

I love the view driving down from campus. The view of the ocean in the background and the clouds above is just breath-taking!

What do you do to take care of yourself and relax?

I love hanging out with friends, especially while enjoying good food. I practice yoga regularly and like being outdoors. I am also a movie buff and love both action movies and obscure independent films.

What is one thing you wish you knew as a college student?

Not to sound self-promoting, but I really wish I had known about counseling services! I had no idea such a thing existed and I would have experienced a lot less angst as a college student if I had gone to counseling. I also wish I had not believed all the hype about college–there is so much pressure to have college be the “best years of your life”–but that’s just not the case for many of us. College can be a really exciting time, but it’s also very stressful and challenging, so don’t hold yourself to these unrealistic expectations.

Audrey Kim is a staff psychologist at CAPS, affiliated with College 9.

Slugs Against Sexual Assault

Have you noticed teal ribbons around campus this month? They’re to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which happens every April. Preventing and supporting survivors of sexual assault is an important part of my work at CAPS, and we are grateful to partner with our downstairs neighbors at SHOP to support this mission. Today, SAFE at SHOP intern Erica West shares some information on what you can do to help prevent sexual assault at UCSC and in our communities.

Working Together To End Sexual Assault

Teal Ribbon for Sexual Assault Awareness Monthby Erica West

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and SAFE (Sexual Assault Facts and Education) wants to take this time to spread awareness and support those who have experienced sexual assault. At SAFE we define sexual assault as any unwanted sex act that is attempted or committed without the other person’s consent. Sexual assault is not something we talk about often in our society and so sometimes it may feel like it is a rare occurrence. However 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, sexual assault is also one of the most underreported crimes and so statistics can often be difficult to find and verify. Why do so many people not report their sexual assaults? Continue reading

CAPS Student Hero: Avery Nguyen

CAPS isn’t just a place for students to go for counseling – it’s also a place where students love to get involved! Today, we’re profiling one of fabulous students, Avery Nguyen, who is currently serving on the CAPS Student Advisory board for a second year. Thanks for all you do, Avery!

Avery Nguyen, Student Advisory Board Member

Avery Nguyen, Student Advisory Board Member

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

My favorite part of attending UCSC is being able to take a break from school and be surrounded by the redwoods.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

When I get time away from schoolwork, I like to indulge my internet addiction, watching my favorite TV shows and reading articles on social issues.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

If you’re unfamiliar with CAPS, I’d like to pass on that it’s a really welcoming and safe space with and for many different types of people!

Avery Nguyen is a third year student affiliated with Porter College, majoring in psychology and feminist studies.