Peer health educator Eve Kuzmech '17 took on leadership roles and conducted research to improve student health and safety.
Eve Kuzmech '17 was recently recognized as one of "29 Who Shine," students from the Commonwealth's 29 public colleges and universities who are chosen for their civic leadership and academic achievements.
Making a difference on campus
A double-major in Crime & Justice Studies and Women & Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish, Eve embodies the spirit of the UMass Dartmouth motto: Corsairs Care.
"I think recognizing injustices and putting in the effort to change them is how I care about the other students in my community," she said.
"Students have the power and ability to change the environment for the better. Getting involved is the way you create your experience and create better experiences for other people. One of the reasons why I like to work with first-year and incoming students is because they have four years ahead of them to make a difference on campus. They have so many opportunities to get involved and shape their experiences and make change on the campus, and it is my passion to get them connected to the tools they need to do this.
"I encourage first-year students to apply for, run for, audition for, and participate in any opportunities that make their experience what they want it to be and give them a chance to change the injustice and unfairness they might see."
Leadership to create change
Eve has served on campus as a Senior Resident Assistant, a Resident Assistant, an Orientation Coordinator, a Peer Health Educator, and a Peer Health Educator Coordinator.
"I think leadership is the way that I influence change on this campus," she said. "The Peer Health Educators I work with have been able to positively influence the health of students on this campus in so many different ways—and they are all leaders in this way. I feel so proud to have had the opportunity to help train them, provide them with the tools they need, and keep them organized through the year.
"Being a leader is being there for your group to help them influence change."
Eve chose to recognize Beth-Anne Guthrie, Assistant Director of Health Services, Health Education and Promotion.
“Beth-Anne has served as a catalyst for my development as a student and a leader," she said. "Her guidance and support throughout my journey has been unparalleled. I will always recall the open chair in front of her desk for me to come and talk with her whenever I needed support.”
Eve received a grant to research the effects of the online sexual assault prevention program, "Not Anymore," used with first-year students at UMass Dartmouth. The title of her research was "Evaluating the Effects of Online Sexual Assault Prevention: 'Not Anymore,' Bystander Intervention Training and UMass Dartmouth"
"I first won a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) in fall 2016 to do this research," she said. "This spring, I won 2nd place in the Three Minute Thesis presentation, hosted by OUR. I did this research because I have a passion for the institution and the experience of first-year students, and I believe that the campus can be doing a better and more transparent job at preventing sexual assault. For this reason I evaluated the 'Not Anymore' program."
Passion for health education
When Eve discovered her passion for health education in her sophomore year, she wanted to find a major that had social justice goals and provided a clear path for helping others. She added Crime & Justice Studies (CJS) as a second major, in addition to Women & Gender Studies (WGS).
"The faculty in CJS encourage students to be leaders in their own education and in social justice movements," Eve said.
One of my CJS professors, Heather Turcotte (and WGS professor Anna Klobucka), encouraged me to take a stand against sexual assault on campus. I wanted to do something that aligned with my commitment to the institution, focused on first-year students, and dealt with an epidemic that peer health commits a lot of efforts to preventing, which is sexual assault. For this reason, I studied that training and sexual assault prevention at UMassD."
She added, "I hope that I other students realize how accessible it is to do research or other work that supports your interests and passions while having an impact on the community."
Study in Mexico, then Teach for America
This summer, Eve will study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of the Crime & Justice Studies in Mexico Program to learn about restorative justice. On her return, she’ll join Teach for America, teaching English as a Second Language in Springfield or Holyoke. She also plans to pursue a Master's in Education.
"I love higher education," Eve said, "and I hope to come back to working with students who are transitioning to college, eventually."
- News: Peer health educator among "29 Who Shine" statewide
- Peer Health Educators