By Darlene Mergillano
“What do you do exactly?” I often find it difficult to answer when I am asked this question. The world of student affairs encompasses a myriad of services and departments, but the common thread is the support we provide to students throughout their educational endeavors at IGHS.
Helping people had always been a core value that I wanted to incorporate into my profession, and I have had the privilege of doing so within the education setting for about a decade. As the Graduate Affairs Officer for our education programs, I support students throughout their master’s and PhD journeys.
So how do we support our students within the Institute for Global Health Sciences? Through our team of amazing faculty and staff, our campus partners, and our allies. The support is truly holistic.
The IGHS education team is dedicated to serving our students from pre-admission through graduation and beyond, addressing academic-related topics, personal concerns and referrals to appropriate resources. Although people may assume that support is provided only when students are struggling – and we are certainly a resource and an ally in these instances – we also provide support in other areas. We assist students with administrative logistics within the institution. We are thought partners and mentor figures for students as they develop their educational and career aspirations. We celebrate the victories big and small along the way.
Students are also able to find assistance for their academic programs through campus resources, such as Learning Resource Services and Student Disability Services. They can prepare for their future endeavors and utilize resources through the Office of Career and Professional Development. Taking care of both physical and mental health is extremely important, and we are fortunate to have Student Health & Counseling Services. Another program that I encourage students to learn more about and utilize is the Student Food Market through Basic Needs for Students. These are only some of the resources available at UCSF. Learners can also utilize a wide variety of services and programs through Student Life.
So many faculty and staff are invested in supporting each student to reach their goal. I aim to be an advocate and ally for students to assist them in their journey to whatever they define as their success.
I often tell my students, “You’re not just a student. You’re a human.” I am a firm believer in meeting students where they are and recognizing what experiences and stories they bring when they seek our support. My main reason for working within higher education is that I get to be a part of such an exciting time in a student’s life and witness them on their journey working towards their aspirations -- however they define it. Not many people have this opportunity, and I am thankful for it.