Skip to main content

The Peer Support Advocate Program is composed of 12 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 6 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? What should I not 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 
  • 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

Cefalo College:

Sam Lidsky
He, His, Him
(919) 675-1124

Hi everyone, my name is Sam and I am currently a MS1. I am originally from New York and moved to North Carolina while attending Davidson College. I graduated with a degree in chemistry in 2018 and spent two years as a MedServe Fellow in Benson, NC. I love forming connections with new people over good food and coffee. If you are looking for me, you can probably find me camping, hiking, or long distance running. I am happy and excited to talk through navigating med school, mental health challenges, and anything else that may be helpful.

Natalie Schmidt
She, Her, Hers
(919) 636-9859

Hello! My name is Natalie Schmidt and I am originally from Wisconsin, if you need proof just ask me to say “bag”. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 2019 with a degree in Biology in International Studies. I recently moved to North Carolina to be with my family, who relocated to Charlotte in 2015. One of the main drivers of my family’s move was the ability to play golf year-round, something that is not possible during the frigid midwestern winters that last from October to April. I also enjoy running and juggling, but have yet to master doing them simultaneously. I am looking forward to speaking and listening to any and all that need a fellow classmate/friend on their side, especially those who are still getting used to living in a new town. Please reach out if you need anything, even just a laugh.  

Cross College:

Chase Binion
He, Him, His
(919) 886-6233

Hello! My name is Chase Binion and I am originally from Raleigh, NC. I went to North Carolina State University and graduated in 2020 with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and a BS in Genetics. My clinical and research interests lie in the fields of pediatric and fetal surgery. When not working on research or studying for the next exam, you can find me swimming, hiking, or playing with my two dogs, Cooper and Bella! I am excited to serve as a peer advocate for the Cross Advisory College so please feel free to reach out if you need anything!

Christian Goodwin
He, Him, His
(984) 514-4208

Hi Everyone! I’m originally from Durham, but I grew up in Richmond and I claim New Orleans as my cultural home. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018 and bopped around a few cities before realizing that Chapel Hill was more my speed. In my down time, you can find me cooking cajun food, driving (I used to be a bus driver), voraciously consuming Last Week Tonight, hanging out with my foster siblings, and making fiercely personal smalltalk with strangers. I’m always excited to provide a sounding board (and a responsibly distanced cup of coffee) so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Dimock College:

Julia Kessel
She, Her, Hers
(919) 443-5387

Hey y’all! My name is Julia, but everyone calls me Jules. I was born and raised in Hickory, NC with my two siblings/best friends – we are a set of triplets – thank you mom for the obligatory first day lecture fun fact! I graduated from The University of Alabama in 2019 with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and still cheer for the Tide every Saturday! During my gap year, I worked as a Medical Assistant in a Dermatology and Plastic Surgery office located in Charlotte, NC. I love to do just about anything outdoors. Hiking, biking, yoga, and playing tennis are a few of my favorites these days. I wake up way too early with way too much energy, I eat dinner at 5:00pm (no seriously), and I love a good inspirational Pinterest quote. My Zoom-room-door is always open to talk about anything from challenges in medical school to new coffee cream flavors. I want to be a person each of you feel is approachable, kind, trustworthy, and a confidant to talk with about anything you are carrying. Please reach out anytime and I look forward to meeting you all!

Jacob Pascual
He, Him, His
(919) 695-7601

I graduated from UNC-CH with a psychology and chemistry double major. I always describe myself as having 4 elements: academics, gaming, lifting, and music. I am a huge introvert but I love getting to know people; our feelings and experiences are all we have, so I find it important to understand what life is like for you. I was in the UNC drumline, can squat 375 lbs, and play as Jigglypuff in Smash. I still struggle with feelings of imperfection, the fatigue that is medical school pandemic edition, and the challenges of just being human. I’m here to sit with you through your struggles and successes that you want to share, and in general just want to know how you have been doing and how you can be helped.

Simkins College:

Simon Ghofrani
He, Him, His
(919) 561-5071

Hi everyone! My name is Simon, and I grew up in Cary, NC. I graduated from UNC-CH with a degree in Global Studies and a minor in Chinese. I also have a Master of Physiology from NC State. So, I owe a lot to the public universities of the Triangle! Besides school, I worked as an Allergy Technician at a Primary Care Office, a Lab Technician at the HIV Cure Lab on campus, and an ESL teacher. During this first year, my hobbies have included propagating every single clipping I prune from my vine plant, cooking using the metric system, singing and dancing while doing house chores, laughing in horror as I keep up to date with the news on SNL, and enjoying medical school while trying to keep afloat. Please share your experiences with me! How have you been coping with school? Your personal life? I love deep conversations, and I can talk about feelings all day, so I hope to be someone you can trust, and that we create a safe and non-judgmental environment together. Reach out to me if there is anything you need!

Jill Thompson
She, Her, Hers
(919) 904-4979

Hey y’all! My name is Jill, and I was born and raised in Georgia as one of three in a set of triplets. I graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2015 with a degree in biology before moving to North Carolina in 2017 to complete the Duke Master of Biomedical Sciences program. After graduating from my master’s program, I worked for two years in clinical research at Duke Cancer Institute. In my free time, I love to dance around my kitchen while attempting to cook new recipes, hike, work out, and relax with friends and family. From the challenges of medical school to the stress we experience outside of medicine, please feel free to reach out to talk about absolutely anything that is on your mind; I am committed to creating an inclusive, safe space and want to support you in any way that I can!

Smithies College:

Annie Peacock
She, Her, Hers
(704) 765-2384

Hi y’all! I’m Annie! After completing my BA in Gender Studies and Social and Economic Justice and my Masters of Social Work, I’m back at UNC for round three for medical school! I love running (slowly), singing loudly in my car, all things Dolly Parton (she’s an American treasure, y’all), and baking. I’m here to make a supportive space to talk about the challenges of medical school. While becoming physicians is something we spent years working towards and we’re excited to be here, there is no denying the challenge that constant evaluation and academic stress can bring. Also, we don’t stop being people with lives outside of medicine that can get complicated just because we’re in school. I’m here to talk about ways we can hold compassion for ourselves and each other through this journey. In addition, I recognize that the various racial, gender, sexual orientation and class identities we hold can vastly impact our experiences in higher education and I am always here to provide support in responding to experiences of systemic oppression throughout this journey as well. I’m looking forward to talking with and getting to know folks as our time in school continues. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Christine Thai
She, Her, Hers
(919) 213-7151

Hi friends, I’m Christine! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California as an only child but I was fortunate to share a house with my cousin who I consider my sister. I completed my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a minor in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego in 2016. I worked in breast cancer clinical research at City of Hope ever since and now I’m on the other side of the country excited to explore what North Carolina has to offer! I love all things music (from piano to hip-hop to rap to K-pop), sports, dancing, cooking and “chillin’”, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with kicking back once in awhile! On my days off, you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm and trying out new recipes! However, most importantly, I love to eat! I enjoy tasting new restaurants and different cuisines. I am a curious cookie and am always ready to learn something new, so I’m all ears if you ever have any suggestions or want to try something. Perhaps we can do something together! I am so excited to share “solidarity hour” with you and build a strong, bonding experience with my new-found family. I’m here for you to put your guard down, let off some steam and be yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need anything or if you just want to chat!

Williamson College:

Catalina Berenblum Tobi
She, Her, Hers
(919) 695-3498

Hi y’all! My name is Catalina, but feel free to call me Cata if that’s more comfortable for you. I’m originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but grew up in Miami, FL before moving to Chapel Hill to go to UNC for college. I studied Political Science and graduated in 2019, before spending a year doing not-super-exciting research. I absolutely love to cook, work out, and spend time in companionable silence with others. I manage multiple chronic illnesses, and try to spend as much time as possible taking care of myself (although medical school has challenged that to some extent). I’m so excited to get to know y’all better, and to be there to support you if you find that you need it, or even if you just want to chat. I care about how you’re doing, and want you to know that there’s someone there to listen to whatever thoughts you have running through your head whenever you have them. I look forward to learning from you and to going on this crazy medical school adventure by your side.

Will Garrison
He, Him, His
(919) 670-0255

Hi everyone, my name is Will! I am so happy to serve as a Peer Support Advocate. I am from Rocky Mount, NC and studied chemical engineering at NC State (May 2017 grad). Some of my favorite things to do are spending time with friends, exchanging life stories, cooking/eating, and getting fresh air. I like to think that I am outdoorsy, but in reality I spend most of my breaks watching YouTube videos or playing with my cat (Rosie) and/or partner (Sara).  Upon transitioning to Chapel Hill, I found that many of my go-to time and stress management strategies could not keep up with the pace of medical school, and a few well-timed talks with close peers and mentors have made all the difference. I am happy to listen, discuss, share, or whatever you might find helpful whenever I can – please do not feel like you need to wait until you “need” help to reach out!


Your 2020-21 College Advocates Cefalo Cross Dimock Simkins Smithies Williamson
Application Phase Jake Francisco

Ryan Lupo

Aneesh Rahangdale

Lauren Halsey

Richard Beckett-Ansa

Clark Williamson

Holly Ozgun

Lauren Sibley


Maggie Deichmeister

Kristen Larson

Alison Bonner

Quinta Fernandes

Individualization Phase Will Bennett

Trevor Parton

Demi Canoutas

Michael Henderson

Alia Capone

Michelle Ikoma

Emily Hollis

Sara Treat

Andrew Kahn

Josephine Lo Bello

Ali Eakes

Arunima Punjala