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The Peer Support Advocate Program is composed of 14 students per phase, who are selected annually by their classmates to be advocates and serve as peer counselors based on their records of service, diversity, and good academic standing. Advocates serve for a one-year term and are assigned to one of 7 advisory colleges so that they can participate in Advisory College lunchtime sessions, coordinate social aspects of the colleges, hold informal support sessions, and invite confidential inquiries. Peer Support Advocates receive guidance from College Advisors, veteran advocates, School of Medicine Wellness Coaches, and the Office of Student Affairs so that they can help their peers resolve common academic, administrative and personal problems.

What can I expect?

  • Respectful and validating conversation
  • Social and emotional support
  • Linkage to on-campus and community resources
  • Privacy
  • Being met where you are at
  • A response within one business day

What should I not expect?

  • Professional counseling
  • Medical advice
  • Emergency help

Requesting Peer Support

Use the Peer Support Submission Form to submit a request for Peer Support through the Peer Support Advocate Program. After submitting the form, an advocate will reach out to you within 24 hours during normal business hours (M-F 8AM-5PM). Please refer to the information above for what type of support you should expect to receive. The form is Onyen protected and requires you to log in to view it.

Your Advocates

Foundation Phase

Co-Chief Advocates

Grace Tabor

Hi! My name is Grace Tabor and I’m so excited to be serving alongside Olivia Cain as the co-Foundation Phase Chief Advocate! I grew up in Charlotte, NC before heading out of state for college at the University of Virginia. After 4 years there and a brief stint in DC, I’m so glad to be back in my home state at UNC med! I’m really looking forward to getting to know our class better and working with Olivia and all of the advocates to host fun events and plan initiatives that help us all keep our heads above water and smiling throughout the slog of Foundation Phase. One fun fact about me is that for nearly 3 years in college, I was a paid bingo caller for UVA’s alumni association! I was thinking about pursuing cardiology until I realized I’d probably make too many “your heart’s not B10” jokes (*cue laugh track*).

Olivia Cain

Hey y’all! My name is Olivia Cain and I am serving as Co-Foundation Phase Chief Advocate alongside Grace Tabor. I am originally from Winston Salem, NC and graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 2022. As Co-Chief Advocate, I am excited to meet the incoming class of UNC medical students and support them and my classmates throughout our matriculation. A fun fact about me is that my family and I were featured in the New York Times!

Cefalo College

Katherine Poulos

UNC Chapel Hill ‘19; Concord, NC; I’m excited to plan fun events for my classmates with my co-advocate and to be a listening ear for my peers in Cefalo!; Chipmunks are my favorite animal!

Madeline Lillich

Hi everyone, I’m Madeline! I was raised in Lexington, Kentucky and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when I was in high school. I graduated from UNC in 2019 and spent several gap years living in Raleigh working as a scribe and in clinical research. I couldn’t be more excited to be an advocate for Cefalo College. In this role, I hope to offer support to my peers and engage in a little friendly competition to hopefully bring the college cup back to Cefalo this year! A fun fact about me is that I have a music degree and enjoy singing opera.

Cross College

I am a first-year medical student at the UNC School of Medicine. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I grew up in Greensboro, NC and I have an older sister who is a third-year medical student at UNC, as well. Outside of school, I competitively speed-solve Rubik’s Cubes. I am ranked Top 100 in North Carolina and I have a competition in Charlotte, NC next month. Being a college advocate provides a unique opportunity to serve as a liaison between the student body and the administration at UNC.

Arvind Rajan

Hey everyone – my name is Arvind! A bit about me, I spent my childhood in upstate NY, came to Raleigh, NC for middle/high school, and have been in the state since! I graduated from ECU with a BS in Chemistry and my MPH in 2022. I attribute having a strong peer support network to a huge part of who I am today, and am excited to be helpful however I can – feel free to reach out! And fun fact: I was in the Mr. Beast Squid Game video – but i got out in red light green light.

Dent College

Isabelle Keim

Hi everyone! My name is Isabelle, and I am from Charlotte, N.C. I took three years between undergraduate and medical school, where I worked in Asheville, N.C. I am excited to be a peer advocate since I love encouraging and supporting my peers! Outside school, I love traveling, hiking, reading, and hanging out with friends. A fun fact about me is that I took the summer before medical school off to travel around Europe (which I totally recommend)! Please feel to reach out!

Kelsey Rich

Hi! My name is Kelsey, I grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio and went to Stanford University where I studied Human Biology with a minor in creative writing. During my two gap years I served with AmeriCorps as a part of the National Civilian Community Corps and with the Southeast Alaska Area Health Education Center. The coolest thing I did during my gap year was when I went caving on the weekends while serving at Mammoth Cave National Park. As an advocate, I’m excited to put on events for people to eat good food and get to know each other and to be a resource that students can come to for support!

Dimock College

Sierra Parkinson

Hi guys! I was raised in Columbus, Ohio and attended UNC for my undergraduate. I am extremely excited to serve as a co-advocate for the Dimock College with Sean, we have some awesome events in the works! Fun fact about me: I can wiggle my ears 🙂

Sean LaFata

Hey everyone! My name is Sean and I grew up in the mountains of Waynesville, NC. I went to undergrad at NC State and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Biochemistry. After graduating I worked for two and half years at UNC as a clinical research coordinator. I love cooking, gardening, and spending as much time in nature as I can. Please reach out if you have any questions, need advice, or just need to vent. I firmly believe that with the right support system medical school can be a genuinely enjoyable experience, and want to help you all find what works best for you. I’m really looking forward to meeting you!

Simkins College

Bassam Shawamreh

Greetings humanoids! I’m Bassam (like blossom without the L), and I’m psyched to serve as one of the Simkins college advocates. My hometowns are Chicago, Anata (town in the West Bank), and the outskirts of Asheville; I went to undergrad at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. Fun fact, I am a part time metal-head and often attempt jamming out on my electric guitar. I look forward to facilitating intentional good times ahead!

Emily Huber

Hi everyone! My name is Emily Huber and I am absolutely thrilled to be one of the advocates for Simkins. I am originally from Annapolis, Maryland but have stayed in the Chapel Hill area since graduating from UNC in 2021. Outside of academics, I love hiking, traveling, cooking/baking, broadway musicals, and generally spending time with those I love. As an advocate, know that I will always provide a kind, nonjudgemental presence no matter the circumstances. I am especially passionate about medical students growing as individuals beyond their academics and love hearing the unique stories of others. I look forward to supporting the well-being of the UNC SOM community <3

Smithies College

Drew Griggs

Hi, my name is Drew Griggs and I’m from Henderson, North Carolina! I attended UNC for undergrad and graduated in 2021. My fun fact is that my brother (not me I know) was born with 12 toes. I’m gonna make it about me, as the polydactyl trait runs in my family and has variable expressivity, which I know we all loved learning about. I have little stubs by my pinkies, hence the variable expressivity. I am excited about the reintroduction of med recs, which will provide opportunities for our advocates to plan fun events for all foundation phase students!

Meg Johnson

Hi, everyone! My name is Meg, and I grew up in Raleigh, NC. I graduated from UNC in the Class of 2020 and spent two years working in clinical research before beginning medical school at UNC. As a peer advocate, I am looking forward to planning events to help us take breaks during our busy schedules and form more friendships within our student body! Outside of student life, I enjoy playing soccer, running, cooking, playing video games, and spending (too much) time with my two cats. One fun fact about me is that I went to the Women’s World Cup championship match in 2019 in France. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime – I am excited to continue on this journey with you all!

Williamson College

Chelsea Onyeji

Hey everyone! My name is Chelsea, and I am so glad I get to support you all as peer advocate. I am an NC native – born and raised in Durham. I am passionate about community outreach and am the SNMA Community Service Co-Leader. I am also in the Medical Education Scholarly Concentration. Outside of medicine, I enjoy hiking, soccer, and skateboarding. I am so excited to be a peer advocate for Williamson, and I can’t wait to get to know each one of you!

Megan Koceja

Megan is from Greensboro, NC and graduated from East Carolina University in 2019 majoring in biology. As an advocate, she is most excited about building community with her Williamson college classmates over many, many free lunches and events. A fun fact about Megan is that as a former preschool teacher, she learned to tie ten pairs of tiny shoes in under a minute!

Your 2023-2024 College Advocates Cefalo Cross Dent Dimock Simkins Smithies Williamson
Application Phase Harini Sridhar
Andrew Bouffler
Will Hoffert
Peter Said
Kate Watkins
Connor Willis-Hong
Eliza Filene
Ria Das
Annu Singh
Adelaide Cooke
Caroline Walton
Jason Lee
Imani Bazemore
Bina Amin
Kimberly Fernandez
Individualization Phase Hannah Thel
Natalie Schmidt
Natalie Philips
Christian Goodwin
Jacob Pascual
Cassie Almond
Michael Daw
Brian Obika
Pembroke Nash
Meghan Pavelka
Annmarie Wang
Julia Kuno
Anna Jacks