College students and recent graduates strengthen MCI’s mission through student engagement and representation
The Mary Christie Institute (MCI) has launched the National Youth Council on College Mental Health, a group of eight college students and recent graduates who have demonstrated dedication to mental health advocacy and helping improve institutional support for student mental health.
This diverse group of students will meet bimonthly to discuss issues in college student wellbeing, providing critical input to support MCI’s mission to educate, inform, and inspire colleges and universities to create cultures of wellbeing. Council members will participate in MCI programs including the Mary Christie Quadcast, the new LearningWell magazine, and its survey research program, providing the student perspective to the array of mental health and wellbeing topics that are examined.
“We are very excited to have an established group of student representatives working alongside us as we help institutions craft strategies to address the high rates of mental health issues our students are reporting,” said Marjorie Malpiede, executive director of the Mary Christie Institute. “These outstanding young people are committed to improving the mental health of their peers with their impressive experience and passion.”
The Council is chaired by Carson Domey, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, and includes a robust representation of the American college student population.
National Youth Council on College Mental Health Members
Carson Domey is a youth mental health advocate from Massachusetts. Growing up with a rare chronic illness, Carson began his legislative advocacy at the Massachusetts State House when he first testified at the age of 12 while seeking to expand access to telehealth services in the Commonwealth. Following the death of a friend to suicide in 2018, he began advocating for cost-effective policy solutions to promote widespread education about mental health in school systems. Carson has successfully worked with legislators in Massachusetts, Texas, and on the federal level to pass legislation to remove barriers to accessing mental healthcare and to expand resources within educational settings. Carson is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin studying Economics and Government. In his free time, he enjoys flying, spending time with family, and rooting for Boston’s sports teams and the Texas Longhorns.
Grace Donfield is a sophomore at Wesleyan University and is a mental health advocate for young adults and students. She is a point-contributing team member on both the Wesleyan Varsity Swimming and Crew teams, and a Campus Captain for the Hidden Opponent, an organization dedicated to mental health advocacy for athletes. Grace is an elected member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she aids in the organization of fundraising efforts for various mental health organizations and works to promote general mental health awareness on campus.
Ryan Doucette is a senior at the Ohio State University studying Public Policy Analysis, Economics, and Education Policy. Following the loss of a friend to suicide, Ryan was compelled to use his voice to advocate for increased mental health support in both a legislative and community capacity. At the Ohio State University, Ryan serves on the Glenn College Mental Health and Wellness Committee, seeking to enable his peers to be conscious of their own health and the best methods to support the well-being of others. Outside of his advocacy efforts, he can be found staying active outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and rooting for Boston’s sports teams and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Shriya Garg is an incoming Foundation Fellow and Stamps Scholar at the University of Georgia. Interested in addressing various barriers that she sees for her peers, Shriya has found a passion for advocating for those around her–whether that be her efforts to curb the “Digital Divide” where she was featured in Forbes, or her work to implement screening tools in universities to combat the mental health crisis among college students. Currently studying Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Shriya hopes to pursue an MD and MBA after her undergraduate years.
Sam Gerry is an undergraduate senior at Bates College and co-founder of Kick It for a Cause, Inc., a charity kickball tournament turned nonprofit organization supporting suicide prevention. In addition to Kick It, Sam works as an undergraduate research assistant at the Hamilton Lab (Rutgers University) and the CALM Lab (Bates College) studying the impact of sleep/social media use on adolescent suicide and multicultural mental health, respectively. Within his advocacy, Sam has previously worked with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the American Association of Suicidology, Born This Way Foundation, and was named the 2022 recipient of Mental Health America’s Power Award.
Caroline Hanson is a freshman at the College of the Holy Cross and began her behavioral health advocacy at a young age. As a high school student, she led multiple fundraisers to highlight the importance of suicide prevention. She is the founder and co-chair of Walk With Me; an event that raises funds for mental health training and resources in a school setting. Hanson is passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues after losing her father to suicide at the age of 13. She shared her personal story and delivered introductory remarks as an award winner at the 2022 Massachusetts Association for Mental Health gala. Hanson is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in psychology with plans to further her education with the goal of providing mental health support to young adults in a therapeutic setting.
Kelsey Elizabeth Matthews is a first-generation college graduate, mental health professional, published author, advocate, and ordained chaplain. Originally from East Haven, Connecticut, she relocated to Las Vegas at 18 years old. Kelsey graduated in 2021 with honors from the College of Southern Nevada, obtaining her Associate of Arts. In 2023, Kelsey graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As a member of the UNLV Honors College, Kelsey was selected along with 58 other college students nationwide to be awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2022. Additionally, Kelsey was chosen by UNLV’s president as one of just ten Outstanding Graduates among the Class of 2023. Kelsey has a heart for those impacted by substance abuse, advocating passionately to bring awareness to the drug and opioid crisis that plagues our nation– the very crisis that took her mother’s life in 2016. Kelsey has worked as a Rehabilitative Mental Health Provider for H.O.P.E. Counseling Services, and as a Community Engagement Specialist for Vegas Stronger and the CARE Coalition. Now, as a Bachelor of Social Work, Kelsey currently works for the UNLV School of Public Health, serving as the Regional Program Manager for The Defensive Line (TDL). Originally a Texas-based non-profit organization, TDL is now expanding to Nevada, with a mission of ending the epidemic of youth suicide, especially for young people of color, by transforming the way we communicate and connect about mental health.
Nestory Ngolle is a sophomore pre-medical student at Georgetown University majoring in Biology of Global Health with a minor in Science, Technology, and International Affairs. He is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts and enjoys playing basketball, learning new languages, teaching himself how to play the piano, and educating himself about past and rising public/global health issues. Following his first year at Georgetown, Nestory began to take a particular interest in mental health on college campuses across the nation and how the diversity of student backgrounds, particularly in the first generation, low income, and international student populations, can yield different experiences for students as they transition to college. He is also interested in the increased focus that we have begun to put on mental health on our campuses, especially following the pandemic. He hopes to find ways to maintain this focus on our campuses and amplify the voices of his peers across the country, as they work to resolve the challenges facing this generation of students.
About the Mary Christie Institute
The Mary Christie Institute is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the improved emotional and behavioral health of college students. Through research, journalism, convening and advocacy, the Institute informs and connects all campus stakeholders towards improved mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all students. For more information, please visit www.marychristieinstitute.org