Peer Support Network
Going through a difficult time and want to talk to a peer support specialist?
Peer support navigators are ready to offer support and provide referrals to on-campus resources that may be useful for you. Fill out the form below and one of our team members will get back to you soon (no later than 24 hours). Remember everything you tell us is confidential. See the list of biographies for the peer navigators below.
Students Seeking Support from Peer Support Navigator – CLICK TO REQUEST
What is the Peer Support Network at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine?
The Peer Support Network is a group of trained medical students (peer support navigators) that are eager to serve as advocates for their peers. The peer support navigators aim to provide support to students that may be experiencing hardships during their time in medical school (academic, interpersonal conflicts, mental/physical health, financial, etc). They are passionate about providing a listening ear, offering advice based on similar experiences, and increasing awareness of the campus resources that are available to students. Peer support navigators are dedicated to fostering an on-campus environment centered around wellness, support, and accessibility.
Interested in becoming a peer support navigator?
Are you seen as a leader or mentor among your peers? Do you have a passion for helping other students that are having a hard time? Empathy, compassion, and dedication are additional qualities that might make you the perfect candidate to join the team. We are currently accepting peer support navigator applications for the 2019-2020 academic school year. You can apply at the link below. (You will receive an email with additional information regarding information sessions and training)
Meet the UMED Peer Support Navigators
Rikera Taylor, MS3 MD Candidate, Program Director
I am one of the co-founders of the Peer Support Network at Miller and also the Mental Health Domain Chair on the Wellness Advisory Council (WAC). I’m from Miami and graduated from Duke University. After undergrad I took 2 gap years before attending medical school. In my role on the WAC, I serve as an advocate for the mental well-being of our medical students. Although medical school is an exciting time for many students, I know from personal experience that it can also be challenging. As students, we often have a hard time striking a balance between school, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and family. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, the Peer Support Navigators are here to help. We are willing to share our experiences with you and direct you to helpful resources on and off campus. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are in need of support!
MS4 Peer Support Navigators
Paul Baker, MS4 MD Candidate
Public Health Major at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Hobbies: basketball, beach volleyball, tennis, golf, swimming, mindfulness, sit-down dinners with family and friends
Why I became a Peer Navigator: Personal problems may seem insurmountable during medical school. I’d simply like to lend an understanding ear to anyone reaching wit’s end. I’ve been there.
Dalia Kaakour, MS4 MD/MPH Candidate
Hello! My name is Dalia, and I am a part of the Miller SOM’s MD/MPH c/o 2020 I was raised in NY, before spending five years in NC, as I attended UNC (Go Heels!) for undergrad, where I majored in Public Policy, and later Duke Med for grad school. In my spare time I love staying active by exploring the great outdoors, practicing yoga, playing soccer, and traveling. I am a huge proponent of emphasizing the overall wellness of medical students/residents/physicians, and have sought to incorporate this into my daily life after both personal experiences and the experiences of those close to me have made it obvious that you cannot care for anyone else if you do not take care of yourself. Please feel free to reach out to me with any problems or concerns you may be facing—I PROMISE you are not alone.
Darren Tsang, MS4 MD Candidate
Hello, my name is Darren, I’m a 4th year MD/MPH student born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to college at the University of California Santa Cruz (Banana Slugs!) and spent my gap years doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In my free time (haha) I love to experiment in the kitchen, train martial arts, and lounge around with my Fiancé Alison, my dog Penny, and my sick cat Wally (he literally got jaundice). I became a peer-support navigator because med school is genuinely hard, and as someone who had struggled and worked with my peers through their struggles, I feel it’s incredibly important for us to support one another through this crazy journey. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Caroline Williams, MS4 MD Candidate
I wanted to be a part of the Peer Mentor program for several reasons. Since a young age, I’ve taken on mentoring and teaching roles whenever possible; I’ve done tutoring from high school through medical school, I’ve run mentoring workshops, I have leadership positions in academic societies, I was a TA for anatomy, etc….thus, I feel that I already do a lot of peer mentoring for my fellow medical students! I wanted to learn in a more structured/formal setting how I could better support those who were faced with adversity and in need of a helping hand. One reason I love mentoring is that I love the idea of paying it forward. There have been many times while in undergraduate and medical school that I was presented with a challenge and didn’t know what my next steps should (or could) be to try and overcome it. In those times, I would have greatly appreciated having someone help me create a plan of action when I had difficulty making one for myself. I think that this program is amazing in that it recognizes the unique relationship between a student and a peer mentor that is just a little further down the career path, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.I’m currently in between my third and fourth year of medical school, doing a research year in Orthopedic Surgery at Beth Israel and Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Although I occasionally come down to Miami, the majority of the year I’ll be away; however, I am always one facetime, phone call, text, email away! Being on a research year luckily means I have much more free time to be there for my peers
Alejandro Hermida, MS4 MD Candidate
Jon Burke, MS4 MD Candidate
MS3 Peer Support Navigators
Michelle Miller, MS3 MD Candidate
I’m originally from Chicago but moved to Miami to escape the cold and am now a MS3 here at Miller! I plan to pursue psychiatry and am passionate about increasing access to mental health care, so I was excited to hear about the Peer Navigator Program raising awareness of all the great resources we have on and off campus. I also love that the Peer Support Network helps emphasize the idea that medical students can and should work together as a team to support each other so that medical school doesn’t have to be as competitive and stressful as it can sometimes feel.
Hope Hua, MS3 MD Candidate
Hi! My name is Hope and I’m from St. Louis, MO. I’ve had my fair share of academic difficulties since starting medical school along with the emotional effects that result from it. Mental health is something that is not openly discussed and more people struggle than we know. I became a peer support navigator because I want to be there for those bold enough to reach out for help and to share my own experience.
Jennifer Ferrante, MS3 MD Candidate
Hi, I’m Jen, and I’m a third year medical student. I was born in Florida, but grew up in Long Beach, NY. I graduated from the University of Miami with a double major in Neuroscience and English, and minors in Chemistry and Spanish. In my free time I love reading, writing, trying new restaurants, and playing with my pet tortoises! I am excited and honored to be serving as a Peer Support Navigator. Mental health has always been important to me, and has become even more of a focus of mine in medical school. I would be more than happy to share my own experiences of overcoming personal and academic challenges in medical school, and look forward to being a source of support.
Alexandria Poitier, MS3 MD Candidate
My name is Alexandria Poitier and I am originally from Miami. I attended George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC for undergrad and majored in Biology and Religion. Then, I completed my MPH at UF and worked as a research coordinator before starting at Miller. I wanted to become a peer support navigator because I know how difficult medical school can be difficult but, I also know how valuable it is to have someone to talk to about the stresses associated with this time. In the past, I have personal struggles with academics and can attest that although medical school is difficult and seems impossible, you can do it.
Tasneem Ezuddin, MS3 MD Candidate
Hi! My name is Tasneem Ezuddin. I was born and raised in Miami, and studied Microbiology and Immunology at UM undergrad. I joined the Peer support team because I know that medical school can be a stressful time in many aspects. It can be difficult to juggle the many responsibilities and expectations, and I think that one of the greatest ways to cope is to talk to someone who truly understands what it’s like. Talking to a fellow peer in medical school is comforting because we can relate on a level that someone outside of medicine might not be able to. I enjoy talking to my peers about their problems. I believe that I am a good listener and I know that sometimes all that is needed is someone to talk to, or someone to help direct to next steps. I can be resourceful because I am aware of the different resources that we have on campus for Mental health and Academic help. I find it rewarding to help my friends in their times of need, and hopefully be able to help you too!
Alana Perlin, MS3 MD/MPH Candidate
Mackenzie Jones, MS3 MD/MPH Candidate
Alfredo Valdiva, MS3 MD/MPH Candidate
MS2 Peer Support Navigators
Sara Jones, MS2 MD Candidate
My name is SJ and I’m an MS2 from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2018 with a degree in anthropology and poverty studies. I became a peer support navigator because I entered eating disorder recovery during my MS1 year and am passionate about helping medical students facing similar struggles.
Vincent Volante, MS2 MD Candidate
Vince was born and raised in the Philippines. He finds identity and strength in his relationship with God. Having had difficulties in transitioning to medical school, and continuing to face his share of mental health challenges, Vince wants to impart courage and wisdom on his peers through the Peer Support Network. Besides doing his duty to point peers to available resources, Vince also wants to remind them that the sun always comes after the rain, and that although everyday is a battle, choosing joy is always an option.
Nareka Trewick, MS2 MD Candidate
I was originally born in Kingston, Jamaica and I moved to the United States when I was 4 years old. After growing up in Coral Springs, Florida, I attended the University of Miami for undergrad where I majored in Public Health and Psychology and then completed a Master’s degree at Florida Atlantic University. My transition to medical school was not easy and I hope to use this opportunity to empower fellow students to use our medical school’s resources, knowing firsthand how helpful they can be.
Jordan Cohen, MS2 MD Candidate
I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona playing baseball under the sun. When it was time for college, I went to the east coast and attended Duke University. I graduated in 2017 with a major in neuroscience and minors in spanish & chemistry. I’m half Cuban and Miami has always been a second home. I’m now a second year med student at Miller and excited to be a peer support navigator! Thanks!
Sirisha Gaddipati, MS2 MD Candidate
Hi, I’m Sirisha! I’m an MS2 originally from Orlando, FL. I went to UM for undergrad (Cane4Lyfe) and I’m super excited to be part of the Peer Support Navigators. Med school is a tricky time, what with academic, family, and personal stress, but it’s important to remember that you’re not doing it alone. I’d love to talk to you about any difficulties with academics, family and friends, or anything on your mind—we’re here for _!
Billy Scola, MS2 MD Candidate
Billy was born and raised in Miami before attending undergrad at Johns Hopkins, where he studied Spanish and was a distance runner on the varsity Cross Country and Track & Field teams. He spent two years living in Bolivia after college, and couldn’t be more excited to be home for medical school. His time at Miller has been the happiest in his life, and he hopes he can use his role in the Peer Support Network to help his fellow ‘Canes feel the same.
Christine Nunez, MS2 MD Candidate
Hi! I’m Christine and I’m a second-year medical student. I grew up in Miami and went to Duke for undergrad, spending 6 years in North Carolina. I can understand the difficulty of transitioning to a new city, or just to medical school in general, especially after taking several gap years. In my free time, I like to run and try out new recipes. I’m always happy to talk, as we’re all constantly learning how to better navigate the stresses of medical school.
Lindsay Remer, MS2 MD Candidate
I am originally from West Bloomfield, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan for undergrad. While there, I took many classes on medical anthropology and was struck by how different cultures interpret well-being and mental health. Perhaps the most striking, was how little is done to facilitate the well-being of those in the medical profession. I think it is extremely important for us, as future physicians, to learn how to employ different resources and ask for help early in our training so we are better prepared to manage stress and can lead balanced lives.
Samantha Linhares, MS2 MD Candidate
My name is Samantha and I’m from Mystic, CT and I attended the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad. I love to go running and bake with friends in my spare time. I wanted to become a peer support navigator to break down the stigma of mental health in medical school and help people through struggles that they might not realize other people are also going through.
Loren Hernandez, MS2 MD Candidate
Alexander Ragson, MS2 MD Candidate
Eugenia Iglesisas, MS2 MD Candidate
Melissa Jones, MS2 MD Candidate
Additional Information about the program:
What are the benefits of being a peer support navigator?
Many students are overwhelmed with the resources available on campus. On the other hand, some students are intimidated by the idea of reaching out to members of the medical administration, although faculty and staff at Miller are readily available to support them. As a peer support navigator, you are a valuable asset to both students and the administration. By becoming a peer support navigator, you enhance the overall wellbeing of medical students going through difficult times. You also play a role in ensuring that the principles of trust, acceptance, and support are embedded within campus culture
What are requirements and expectations of being a peer support team member?
You must attend a Mental Health First Aid Workshop (there will be more than one offered during the academic year). You are also required to commit at least 2-10 hours of being on call per month. During months when your schedule may get very busy, you will have the option to decrease the the amount of time you are on call.
On Campus Resources by Category:
Professionalism Reporting Services
• Reporting Student Mistreatment
• Reporting problematic issues of nonprofessional behavior
• COMMENDING excellence in Professionalism