Introducing the 2018-2019 Active Minds Student Advisory Committee!

13 min

Active Minds
Active Minds

Each spring, Active Minds welcomes new members to the Student Advisory Committee (SAC), comprised of up to 20 students across the country who have shown extraordinary leadership and dedication to Active Minds. The SAC serves as an advisory body to the national office staff and brings the student perspective to organizational decision-making.

Read on to meet the 2018-2019 Student Advisory Committee (SAC)!


Amna Ijaz

School: University of Texas at Austin

Studies: International Relations and Global Studies

About: Having lived in four out of the seven continents, she has been able to perceive the lingering stigma that surrounds mental health around the globe, and in different cultures. Despite having joined Active Minds with a simple vision of sharing her story and maybe helping a few in the process, mental health advocacy has now become a focal part of who she is and the endeavors she hopes to pursue later in life.

Gopika Hari

School: Virginia Commonwealth University

Studies: Biology major, Chemistry and Spanish minor

About: Mental health advocacy, particularly for depression and anxiety in adolescents, is something she cares deeply about. She enjoys working with her chapter on a variety of events from Send Silence Packing to Eating Disorders Awareness Week. She is excited to work with the national office and fellow SAC members to bring about new programs to Active Minds. Outside of school, she loves working with kids, exploring Richmond, and trying out great new food places in the city.

Christy Benedict

School: Jefferson College

Studies: Computer Science

About: As the president of Active Minds at Jefferson, she has learned to excel through her ADHD and depression and uses those challenges to help others and bring awareness to mental health issues. Also, having lost family to suicide she is an outspoken advocate for suicide prevention and awareness. Christy enjoys bringing people together and strives for collaboration among organizations on her campus and is working on bringing Active Minds to UMSL. Two of her other passions are fixing things and crafting, which she tries to do regularly as she finds them almost meditative.

Zoe Howland

School: Ithaca College

Studies: Sociology and Culture, Communication; Minor in Women and Gender Studies

About: Her personal struggle with mental health in high school sparked her interest in mental health advocacy, making her thrilled to find a community that was equally passionate about reducing the stigma around mental illness through Active Minds at Ithaca College. She is currently the Co-President of her chapter and has organized or participated in multiple campaigns like the local Out of the Darkness walk and various events focused on de-stressing during the Fall semesters.

Tori Zielinski

School: Penn State World Campus

Studies: Organizational Leadership and Psychology  

About: She helped start the Active Minds for Pennsylvania State University World Campus in 2015 and is currently the President of the chapter. Tori’s own battles with mental illness have made her passionate about helping others not feel so alone in their battles and directing them to get the help they need. She is a trained peer-to-peer specialist and does advocating for mental health through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Tori has contacted numerous state and federal officials regarding bills and laws about mental health and insurance. Besides being active in her Active Minds chapter, Tori is also a Student Ambassador for World Campus and the Blue and White Society President for the World Campus chapter.

Veena Velury  

School: San Jose State University  

Studies: Communicative Disorders and Sciences

About: After joining Active Minds in her sophomore year, Veena found her passion for mental health awareness, and she became the President of the SJSU chapter a year later. Coming from a family of immigrants, Veena has felt the cultural stigma around mental health first-hand, and her goal is to focus is on educating minority communities about mental health. Apart from being a #StigmaFighter, Veena loves working with children, dancing an Indian classical art form, reading, and traveling. She is also obsessed with anything and everything Disney. Veena hopes to be a Speech-Language Pathologist along with continuing her journey of mental health awareness throughout her life. 

Sruti Bandlamuri

School: Union College

Studies: Chemistry and Sociology

About: After watching people around her grapple with inescapable mental and emotional turmoil while stigmas inhibited their mental illness recovery, she founded The Outpatient Project ( in high school, a platform for women of diverse backgrounds to share their health/healthcare stories. Appointed the Outreach Chair of Union’s Active Minds chapter during her first year at Union College, Sruti helped facilitate collaboration among various student organizations in their collective attempt to destigmatize, advocate for, foster communication about, and elucidate mental health for students on campus. Sruti is also constituent member of Union College Organization of Peer Educators (UCOPE), an editor for The Idol: Union College Literary Magazine, and a member of Women’s Union. When she’s not advocating for mental health, Sruti can be found practicing Indian classical dance, reading, doodling, or exploring.

Julia Kohler

School: Concordia College  

Studies: Psychology  

About: Of all the opportunities that she’s been involved in while at college, Julia is most proud of her time spent in Active Minds. Through it, she has seen the power people’s stories can have in fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. Active Minds has also shown Julia that students are the most important voices to have at the table when discussing mental health reform on college campuses. As a member of her chapter’s executive team, Julia has loved being able to work with her team to organize Mental Health Awareness weeks, student mental health panels, and speaking events. In addition to psychology, Julia is passionate about environmental justice and writing, and learning how these three areas can intersect to create positive change in the world. She is so thrilled to be on the Student Advisory Committee with fellow mental health advocates.

Jenny Sullivan

School: Worcester State University

Studies: Psychology  

About: Her passion about mental health and fighting against stigma came from her own struggles with depression and PTSD. Jenny joined Active Minds her freshman year and instantly became very involved as the Secretary. She helps run several events such as Talk to Some takeover, Share Your Story, and Love Yourself Day. Jenny hopes to continue to destigmatize mental health when she graduates. Outside of school, she loves to horseback ride, reading, baking, painting, cosplaying, and spending time with her albino bunny named Sprinkles.

Sydney Gray

School: San Diego State University

Studies: Psychology major; counseling and social change and child and family development minor

About: She joined Active Minds her sophomore year of college, when she finally had time in her schedule, and has been involved with the organization ever since. During her sophomore year, she served as Programming Chair which was the part of the organization that planned outreaches and went on to become Vice President her junior year. She also serves as an ambassador for SDSU in the Active Minds California Cohort. Sydney says she became interested in Active Minds because of the overall mission of reducing the stigma of mental health, which she saw as a prevalent issue in her life and in her community. Being a part of Active Minds has been a rewarding experience for her, and she continues to be involved in the organization. She is eager to be a part of the Student Advisory Committee and getting to know everyone and how Active Minds is on their campuses. In the future, she hopes to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling or clinical psychology in hopes of being a therapist. 

Asad Mustafa

School: University of Texas at Dallas  

Studies: Neuroscience  

About: After graduation Asad plans to go to medical school to eventually become a neurosurgeon. Asad has a huge passion for mental health awareness stemming from seeing the stigma surrounding illness first hand with close friends and peers and specifically in South Asian culture. Asad founded the Active Minds chapter on his campus after his freshman year and has been heavily involved in working with school departments to increase mental health programming collaboration as well as creating an open culture free of stigma. The chapter has made great strides and has become an indispensable resource for mental health awareness. Beyond helping with programming and bringing guest speakers to chapter events, Asad has also served on the Counseling Center Advisory Committee at his campus which led to a more efficient system for taking in students and removing the wait-list. Asad has also volunteered as a peer support specialist with IPrevail Health Solutions LLC taking confidential mental health chats. Outside of Active Minds and studying for classes, Asad is a mentor in the Freshman Mentor Program, a volunteer for Alpha Epsilon Delta, and a teaching assistant for Behavioral Neuro. Asad is very excited to be a part of the SAC and work with everyone to continue Active Mind’s mission. 

Raquel Sosa

School: East Stroudsburg University  

Studies: Counseling Psychology and Applied Statistics  

About: She joined Active Minds ESU her freshman year and soon became a very involved member. Raquel became very passionate about mental health ever since she realized that those around her were struggling to be heard. She noticed that mental health is less talked about than physical health and this motivated her to spread mental health awareness around campus. At ESU, Raquel is not only the President of Active Minds and Psi Chi, but she is also a mentor for First Year Experience students and is doing research on mental illness stigma. She is deeply grateful to God for finding an organization like Active Minds, as she truly believes that she has found her purpose in life.

Katia Seitz

School: Awty International School (High School)

About: She has lived in Texas all her life, but her parents originally come from Germany. She is one of six children, with three older siblings and two younger ones. After working through her own mental health struggles, Katia came across Active Minds and began a chapter at her school. She is president of the club and her passion is spreading awareness to end the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Though it is a new club at her school, it is one of the largest and most involved on campus. Outside of Active Minds, Katia enjoys spending time with her friends, traveling the globe with her family, getting dressed up, painting, and cuddling with her dog.  

Eileen Camilo

School: Ramapo College

Studies: Social Work  

About: Eileen is studying to become a nurse practitioner and social worker. She is currently a junior at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. An initial experience with anxiety and panic attacks her freshman year in college led Eileen to become a mental health advocate. She feels both inspired and awakened by her attendance at the National Active Minds Conference in the fall of 2017. There, she was embraced by all in attendance, and heard stories of depression, suicide attempts, depression, suicide attempts, drug abuse, PTSD, low self esteem and other pressing mental health issues.Attendance at the conference forever changed Eileen’s impression of and attitude toward mental health and the significance of advocacy for groups opening up about it. Eileen is a currently president in her college’s chapter. In her free time she works with Aspergers college students, is member of her school’s American Sign Language Club, and member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars board. Eileen enjoys traveling, evidenced by her recent trips to Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is proud to be a part of the National Active Minds Chapter and thrilled to share all she learns with individuals wherever she goes!

Quinnie Phan

School: Virginia Commonwealth University

Studies: Biology major; chemistry minor  

About: As an out-of-state student from Phoenix who first struggled with the adjustment to Richmond, Quinnie understands how significant the transition into college-life can be for young adults. After her first year at VCU, a growing interest in public health and social justice led her to discover her Active Minds chapter, where she immediately took a roll on executive board. Joining Active Minds has opened her eyes to the disparity and stigma that surrounds mental illness amongst college students. She is eager to work alongside passionate, like-minded, individuals at the national office toward normalizing the topics of mental health in today’s society. In the future, as a healthcare practitioner, Quinnie hopes to apply her experience with Active Minds as a means of focusing on overall patient-wellness and improving patient interactions.