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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Graduating senior class plans to install mental health awareness mural

The mural will serve as an opportunity for the class of 2023 to leave their mark on campus and to encourage mental health advocacy


By LILY FREEMAN — campus@theaggie.org


Aggies Helping Aggies — also known as the UC Davis Student Foundation — in partnership with Aggie Mental Health, has challenged members of the class of 2023 to make a donation of $20.23 to fund their “Murals for Mental Health” project. According to the initiative’s Crowdfund website, Murals for Mental Health is this year’s opportunity for the UC Davis graduating class to leave a lasting mark on campus through the installation of a public art mural that promotes mental health awareness

Barry Nguyen, a fourth-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major and the president of Aggies Helping Aggies, described the project.

“Every year, we launch a senior class challenge, where we challenge the graduating class to donate to a cause that they are passionate about,” Nguyen said. “This year, we are partnering with Aggie Mental Health to tackle the issue of poor mental health.” 

According to Nguyen, the mural is set to be painted on the Sprocket bike and pedestrian tunnel, located near the intersection of the ARC and the University Credit Union Center, which thousands of students pass through daily.

Chelan Tolentino, a third-year economics major and the finance and allocation chair of Aggies Helping Aggies, talked about her passion for mental health awareness.

I’ve seen how the COVID[-19] pandemic affected students,” Tolentino said. “Like many of my peers, my mental health declined drastically due to the pandemic. Mental health is super important, as it affects our overall health greatly.”

Tolentino went on to explain why working on the Murals for Mental Health project has been important to her.

With this project, I’d like to raise awareness on mental health and how it makes such a difference in someone’s life,” Tolentino said. “Personally, art helps draw me into a part of my mind that sort of allows me to forget about the stressors in my life. It’s relaxing in some way. Through this mural, I want students to receive the message that we’re all in this together and that they’ll be able to find support and comfort.”

Shannon Yi, a third-year food science major and the marketing and stewardship committee chair of Aggies Helping Aggies, shared similar thoughts.

“To me personally, the Murals for Mental Health project represents the acknowledgment and initiative to support the mental well-being of our UC Davis community and beyond,” Yi said. “Similar to how taking in my surroundings gives me a breath of fresh air from stress and pressure, taking in the beauty of this public art mural would also be a calming presence.” 

According to the Crowdfund website, Aggies Helping Aggies has worked to raise $3,500 for the creation of the mural. Senior class donations are being accepted through Feb. 28, after which Aggies Helping Aggies will begin to take the next steps toward the final design process and painting of the mural. As of February 26, the initiative had raised $1,096.

Nguyen concluded with his final thoughts on the impact he hopes that the mural will have on students.

“We hope this mural will serve as a therapeutic instrument for students going through poor mental health and normalize mental health discussions,” Nguyen said. “It will bring awareness to such a prevalent matter plaguing not only UC Davis students, but students nationwide.” 


Written by: Lily Freeman — campus@theaggie.org