Peers Offering Wellness Education Resources (POWER)

What is the POWER Initiative?
A core mission of both UCI Graduate Division and UCI CARE is to create a campus culture that fosters a safe and healthy community through personal empowerment and allyship.

The POWER Initiative aims to further this mission by creating opportunities for UCI graduate students to engage in creating safe spaces that allow for individual growth and community connection by becoming POWER Ambassadors.

POWER Ambassadors will be trained by Graduate Division and CARE staff. Competencies include:

  • Understanding the role of equity, safety, and wellness in promoting self and community empowerment.
  • Implementation of workshops and events focused on peer-to-peer support.
  • Referring students to campus resources.
  • Acting as a CARE and Graduate Division liaison.
  • Promoting CARE and Graduate Division events.


  • Currently-enrolled student in a graduate- or professional-level academic program
  • A completed application and recorded presentation
  • Able to commit to a full-year of involvement as outlined by the program’s calendar, including attending all scheduled training and meeting sessions
  • Available Wednesdays from 1pm-2:30pm
  • Attend five 1.5-hour trainings Fall quarter (Week 1, 2, 4, 7, 9), with option for study hall/office hours for additional guidance, support, or collaboration space with peers
  • Attend at least one training winter and spring quarter (Date and time TBD)
  • Attend at least one 30-minute check-in with a program coordinator winter and spring quarter
  • Develop and promote a minimum of one community workshop focused on harm-prevention and wellness advocacy winter and spring quarter
  • Participate/volunteer in CARE events
  • Promote CARE and GPSRC programs and events
  • Promote wellness surveys disseminated by CARE and Graduate Division
  • Assist in referring students to appropriate campus resources
  • Act as a Graduate Division and CARE liaison


*Participants who meet all program requirements will receive a $750 stipend for the academic year. Partial stipends will be paid out at the end of each quarter.

Training Curriculum and Outcomes

  • Equity, safety, wellness training, and program development
    • Recognizing the role of equity, safety, and wellness in individual and community empowerment
    • CARE services and programs
    • Campus, community, and national resources
    • Bystander intervention
    • Trauma-informed practices and response
    • De-escalation and/or crisis intervention techniques
    • Identity and bias/Cultural Wellness
    • Boundary-setting and buffering vicarious trauma
    • Inclusive program design
    • Workshop engagement and facilitation
  • Develop community workshops and events
    • Understanding accessibility and inclusion in workshop and event design
    • Recognizing the connection between safety and personal and professional development
    • Create, implement, and promote community workshops focused on harm-prevention and wellness advocacy.
  • Study halls/ Office hours
    • Weeks 3, 5, 6, and 8
    • This is dedicated space and time to help you prepare your winter program. Along with additional guidance, support, and/or collaboration space with peers
    • Deadline to submit Winter programs is Week 7


Apply today! Application is 15 questions and includes uploading your CV/resume and a brief video. Complete the application here. If you would like to apply, but would prefer to meet and film with a POWER program coordinator, please email

Applications are due by 11:59pm on Monday, August 21. 

If you have questions you reach out to the coordinators listed below.

Program Coordinators

Kaeleigh Hayakawa, CCCIP Coordinator – Graduate Division

Rasta Bagheri, CARE Advocate – CARE

Karen Friedlander, GPSRC Operations Manager – Graduate Division

Phong Luong, Director, Wellness and Inclusion – Graduate Division

Ambassador Bios

I am a second-year Psychological Science Ph.D. student in the Psychological Science Program. I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Psychological Science from UCI. My work focuses on identifying positive psychosocial factors that may buffer the effects of prolonged stress (e.g., parent-child separations) and trauma (e.g., domestic violence) on mental health in ethnic minorities, with an emphasis on perinatal mental health. I aim to foster resilience in disadvantaged communities by understanding what role psychosocial forces play in their physiological processes and psychological health outcomes. I am building on her efforts through the POWER Initiative by implementing resilience-building workshops and informed action on campus to promote proactive behaviors among underrepresented minority trauma victims.

Jacky Beck

My name is Jacky Beck (she/hers) and I’m a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Sciences. My current research examines children’s social mobility beliefs in the context of financial inequality. In my role as a POWER ambassador, my goal is to foster a welcoming and supportive community where students feel like they are part of a “home” away from home. I hope to assist students build lasting connections and find a sense of belonging through peer support and wellness programs.

Pia Ray

I’m Pia Ray, I received my bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Computer Science at UC Riverside, and I’m currently a masters of Public Policy student here at UC Irvine, focusing on humanitarian needs. Most of my background with my specialization would be going across borders in South Asia under humanitarian efforts like building water wells for underprivileged villages, and building orphanages from the ground up. I would like to say that my efforts in the POWER Initiative will positively affect our academic community by being an advocate for graduate students through kindness and patience. I hope that my involvement in POWER provides a safe environment for students, so they’re able to thrive to their fullest potential with support available. 

I am Maggie Buckridge (she/her). I am a first-year student in the Criminology, Law and Society PhD program. I joined POWER because I know that power-based violence education is a key part of creating safer communities here at UCI and beyond. The first step is to have open conversations with the goal of learning. I am also passionate about encouraging graduate students to learn and have conversations about vicarious trauma in their fields and careers. In my free time, I enjoy reading, thrifting, and embroidery. I also love attending the wellness and yoga classes offered through Graduate and Family Housing! I hope that engaging in POWER events reminds students that they are full people outside of their role as students and emerging scholars.

My name is Sophio Machavariani, I’m a 2nd year grad student in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science. I work on topics in legal epistemology, evidence and proof in law, formal and social epistemology, philosophy of science. By being involved in the POWER initiative, I hope to provide support to graduate students; increase their awareness of wellness and other campus resources and provide guidance and support by organizing workshops on topics like wellness, harm-prevention, mindfulness.

My name is Nai-Yu Cheng, a second-year master’s student in Informatics. My educational and career journey has been deeply intertwined with human behavior, technology, and design, spanning diverse fields including informatics, management, psychology, and drama and theater. My current research focus centers on human-computer interaction (HCI) and health informatics. Specifically, I am dedicated to exploring how digital technologies can be leveraged to enhance individuals’ mental wellbeing. Given my passion for advancing individual mental wellbeing, I am excited to embrace the role of a POWER ambassador. I look forward to collaborating with fellow POWER members to foster a safer and more supportive graduate community.

I am McKenna Dabbs, a graduate student at UCI working towards a master’s degree in Legal and Forensic Psychology (M.L.F.P.). I received my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at the California State University of Bakersfield, focusing my efforts on the justice system as a whole. I currently work with the organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) in an effort to assist victims of impaired driving and support the community and law enforcement with prosecuting these cases. I have previously worked within the mental health space to assist in mental competency cases for defendants and working towards their ability to understand their stress levels. I am passionate about assisting with violence prevention and educating others on how to better their healing strategies, whether that is within the legal system or here at the Irvine campus! I plan to use my education and experience to further the POWER initiative and promote wellness within the graduate community!

My name is Suchen Ding. I am a first-year PhD student in the Film and Media Studies Program. My research focuses on digital labor, environmental media, precarity, and affect theory. The reason why I want to be a POWER ambassador is that as an international student myself, I am passionate about fostering equity, safety, and wellness, which aligns with POWER’s mission to empower individuals and build an inclusive community. I aim to contribute to the creation of safe spaces and the promotion of well-being in a diverse and vibrant academic and media landscape. In my free time, I enjoy watching films, rock climbing, hiking and relaxing on the beach.

My name is Kylie and I use she/her pronouns! I am a first year Masters student in the Political Science, Philosophy & Logic, and Economics program at UC Irvine under the school of social sciences. I graduated with my B.A. in political science from UC Irvine in June 2023 so this will be my 5th year at UC Irvine but first as a graduate student! As a POWER Ambassador I am excited to help other grad students access resources especially as someone with a lot of knowledge about UCI. I want to help graduate students thrive and have positive relationships with other members in the graduate community. 

My name is Leslie Liu (she/hers) and I’m a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry. My research focuses on the compatibilization of immiscible polymer blends to improve the recyclability of mixed plastic waste streams. As a POWER ambassador, I will advocate for harm-prevention and wellness. I aim to facilitate safe spaces for allyship and support in the graduate community.

Daniela Gaebler

My name is Daniela Gaebler. I am a 3rd-year PhD student in the Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and my research focuses on improving immunotherapy approaches for the treatment of ovarian cancers. As a POWER ambassador, I aspire to positively impact the academic community of graduate students by providing education about wellness resources, offering peer-to-peer support and by fostering personal empowerment in workshops. In my free time, I like to hike, go horse riding, or just relax at the beach.

I am Cristina, a PhD Candidate in Information Systems at The Paul Merage School of Business. My research focuses on how information technologies intersect with healthcare to ensure health equity. As a POWER ambassador, I want to give back to the community and create opportunities for everyone to thrive and feel empowered in any task they wish to accomplish.

Outside of research, I truly enjoy all things art and live music; and I can be found swimming, rain or shine! Happy to answer any questions both in Spanish and English.

My name is Anhthu (Annie) Dinh. I am a 3rd-year PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Department. I like gaming, reading, and watching movies in my free time! As a POWER ambassador, I am committed to helping others become more aware of and proactive in their mental wellness, and destigmatizing mental health. I would like to develop and implement programs on imposter syndrome, handling stress and anxiety, and burnout. 

Marissa Gavin received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2021, and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2023. She is a first year PhD student in the Department of History at the University of California-Irvine. Marissa’s research focuses on questions of gender while advocating for historically marginalized communities. Marissa is involved as a DECADE representative and a POWER ambassador to work to prevent violence while advocating for women and historically marginalized communities. Outside of academia, Marissa is outside, either camping, hiking, or snowboarding. 

My name is Teena Gupta. I am a master’s student at The Paul Merage School of Business, pursuing Business Analytics with the aim of making impactful business insights using data. I come from a background where I had to travel a lot, which makes me understand the value of having a community. As a POWER Ambassador, my goal is to build such a space where everyone feels safe, valued, and heard. As a person, I am very outdoorsy and love to explore new places. I am a trained dancer too, and I love to play badminton and watch movies whenever I get a chance.

Maryam Hassani, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Informatics at UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, brings together her background in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering to conduct research in health informatics and health data science. Her work focuses on using technology to improve healthcare experiences, especially through user experience research for healthcare tools. With a strong grasp of both the technical and human aspects of technology, she is also driven by her passion for entrepreneurial ventures and has been involved in projects such as addressing mental health challenges among college students. The POWER Initiative aligns with her interest in creating safe spaces for peers, and she is passionate about mental health and wellbeing, thriving in hosting environments that foster open dialogue and support.

My name is Vandana Ramakrishnan and I am a fourth year PhD student in Economics. I work on topics in banking and monetary policy. I am excited to create more awareness and community around wellness among graduate students. With POWER, my goal is to address challenges that international students, especially women face in accessing mental health resources. A small step towards this end, I plan to help organize workshops centered on movement. In my free time, I love learning new sports and walking around places of history! 

Jesse Giovanni Sánchez is currently a PhD student specializing in Education Policy & Human Development at the University of California, Irvine, School of Education. Before embarking on their doctoral journey, they earned a degree in Education Equity from Harvard University with honors. Jesse Giovanni’s commitment to service led him around the world where they coordinated transformative leadership development programs across six countries on four different continents.

At the heart of Jesse Giovanni’s academic pursuits lies a profound interest in exploring the complex interplay between school systems and their impact on the well-being, care, and healing experiences of First Gen students. In addition to their scholarly pursuits, Jesse Giovanni’s passion for social impact drives his dreams to uncover and illuminate opportunities for university-level community resources that enhance the overall well-being of students.

I’m Victoria Shen and I am a second- year graduate student in the Biological Chemistry Department. My current research focus is on the protein, Artemis, and its mutants’ effects on immunodeficiency disorders. As a POWER ambassador, I want to implement workshops focused on mental wellness and resilience for graduate students, while also fostering a sense of community and support. If my earbuds are in, I’m most likely listening to my girl, Taylor Swift, or my favorite podcast, Small Town Murder. During my free time, I’m probably lying down, drawing, watching Youtube videos, or some kind of amalgamation of all those things.