Graduate Peer Support Providers 

Graduate Peer Support Providers (PSPs) meet one-on-one with graduate students at UC Berkeley to provide assistance in navigating the complex processes related to mental health, basic needs, and academia. The graduate student experience is challenging and finding services and support can be an additional burden. As graduate students themselves*, PSP’s provide support to their peers through understanding, experience, respect, and an equity based lens. They will work to provide guidance and support to meet your unique needs.

What Graduate Peer Support Providers can do:

  • Talk through and provide a listening ear for concerns related to academia, mental health, wellness, basic needs, socialization, etc.
  • Support students with tedious processes such as scheduling appointments, finding health care providers, accessing academic forms, searching for housing, etc.
  • Share information about mental health services at UC Berkeley by providing access and guidance through resources or in the moment navigation.
  • Provide encouragement and empowerment to students as they navigate graduate school.

What Graduate Peer Support Providers are not equipped to do:

If you are unsure if a Graduate PSP can support your unique concern, please sign up for a chat and we will do our best to point you in the right direction!

Visit the PSP Chat Session scheduling page

Chat Sessions with the Graduate PSPs are 20 minutes in length. Please read the description box in the appointment confirmation carefully. This is where you will indicate whether you would like to meet in person or via zoom. 

Please note that any appointments made after 5 p.m. the day before your appointment will not be honored because of staffing restrictions due to COVID.

*PSPs are supervised by faculty in the School Psychology Program, in partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services.


Peer Support Providers Bios

photo of Shari Aronson

Shari Aronson

Shari is a third year Ph.D. student in UC Berkeley’s school psychology program. She graduated from the University of Arizona in the spring of 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Adolescent Development. She is currently involved in researching ADHD in girls, as well as examining student-perceived mental health support and the stigmatization of mental health at universities. In her free time, Shari enjoys listening to music, exploring the Bay Area’s food scene, going on hikes, and having game nights with her friends. 

photo of Nicole Faraci

Nicole Faraci

Nicole is a third year PhD student in the School Psychology Program within the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Educational Psychology. She is currently focusing her research on youth political engagement and equitable civics education; she is passionate about the intersection of research, practice, and policy in order to foster meaningful and empowering participation of young people in civic life. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys exploring the Bay Area through eclectic food, running, attending music and art events, reading autobiographies, and traveling.

photo of Makaela Jones

Makaela Jones

Makaela (she/her) is a third year PhD student in the School Psychology program at UC-Berkeley. Makaela completed her undergraduate career in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Boston University. Some of her research interests are in politicized care in schools, the school-to-prison pipeline, and sport-based therapeutic approaches. Makaela also enjoys spending her time listening to music, tending to her indoor garden, and practicing self-care.

photo of Julissa Navas

Julissa Navas

Julissa is a third year PhD student in the School Psychology program at UC Berkeley. In 2019, she completed her undergraduate studies at UC Irvine and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Education Sciences. Her graduate research currently focuses on examining the relationship between teacher expectations, teacher practices, and students’ academic achievement. In her free time, she likes to draw, play video games, go hiking, and try new food spots with friends.

Photo of Cynthia Valencia-Ayala

Cynthia Valencia-Ayala

Cynthia is a Ph.D. Candidate in the school psychology program, housed in the Education department at UC Berkeley. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology and Chicanx Studies with a minor in Education from UC Santa Barbara. Prior to entering UC Berkeley, she worked with systems and trauma impacted youth, providing advocacy and mental health support. She currently studies youth experiences with and perceptions of school discipline and the carceral system, and the influence of punitive measures on mental health. In her spare time, Cynthia enjoys exploring with her dog, spending time outdoors, cooking, family time, and horror movies.