U Matter, We Care Ambassador Ashley Gersh

Name: Ashley Gersh
Age: 21
Year: Junior
Major: Psychology

Her Campus: What is the main objective of the U Matter, We Care program?
Ashley Gersh: “Our main objective is to educate students, faculties and employees about the signs and symptoms of distress and how to identify them in order to promote a culture of care.”

HC: How often do students come into the Dean of Students Office seeking help?
AG: “Students come into the DSO all the time, every day. It’s constant.”

HC: How do you ensure that students are aware of what U Matter, We Care has to offer?
AG: “As an ambassador, I do tabling and fliering, which means that I’m outside interacting with students. I tell them how we are different from the Counseling and Wellness Center and about all the different resources on campus that are available to them if they know someone who is in distress or if they are going through a crisis themselves. We want to make sure that they know how to contact U Matter, We Care. It is definitely one of the biggest things that we try to get out to students so that they always know who to contact if they are feeling distressed.”

HC: Who can students talk to if they come into the DSO with a problem?
AG: “The ambassadors are the face team of the initiative. We refer students to the care staff team, who students can go to if they feel that they need to talk to someone or if they feel that they need help on campus. The care staff team is located in Peabody Hall and can also be reached at 352-294-CARE and [email protected] to schedule an appointment. We actually just started a mentor/mentee program, which offers students on campus the opportunity to request a mentor through the U Matter initiative. The ambassadors will be mentors to students who feel that they have not found their place on campus or who just need someone to show them around more so that they can become more acclimated to the school. It’s a great program that we just started and the perfect way for ambassadors to connect directly with students.”

HC: What tactics do you implement to create a safe and inclusive campus community?
AG: “We do presentations for any student organization that requests one, and we participate in tabling and fliering in order to spread the word about all the resources our program has to offer. We also host U Matter Day on campus, and this year’s theme is Uplift UF.”

HC: How do U Matter ambassadors address and handle the recent tragedies on campus?
AG: “The ambassadors try to create the culture of care that we promote. We will wear UMatter attire the day of or the day after the tragedy so that students who may be affected by the tragedy can see our shirts or our signs and feel comfortable coming up to us and talking to us about the initiative. We just want to show that we are on campus, we care and we are here for the people who need help. We also try to table that day so that we are outside and accessible to students after something like that has happened.”

HC: How has your experience as a UMA influenced your decision to become a therapist?
AG: “My experiences as a U Matter ambassador constantly reinforce my drive to want to pursue the psychology major and, ultimately, become a counseling therapist later on in my career.”

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Gersh