Meet Our Chapter Coordinators
Rhode Island School of Design
Irene Wei is the chapter coordinator of Project LETS at RISD. Irene is studying toward a BFA in Furniture Design with a concentration in Nature Culture Sustainability Studies. She is also a papermaker that explores traditional/contemporary uses of paper and uses it as a form of social engagement and community activism. Irene has run hand papermaking workshops in conjunction with independent paper artists and other organizations at nursing homes and for sexual assault awareness.
In addition to her studies, Irene is passionate about mental health advocacy and reducing the stigma. Irene was heavily involved in high school outreach programs for mental health advocacy with the University of Michigan when she lived in Ann Arbor. After noticing the lack of discussion surrounding mental health on RISD’s campus, let alone student clubs for anything mental health related, and finally, a campus tragedy involving a friend, Irene thought it was vital to bring Project LETS to campus. Already, within a year, she has seen improvements in campus discussions surrounding mental health amongst staff and students.
University of Pennsylvania
Rylee is a sophomore studying psychology and gender studies at Penn. In her teenage years, she had a handful of friends with neurodivergent conditions who she didn't know how to help. Now, she wants to help and share her heart with more than a handful. Rylee is constantly fighting her anxiety, oppressive power structures, and her own hunger. When she isn't in battle, Rylee likes to take photos, cuddle her dog, or submit to her hunger and enjoy good food.
Lauren is a sophomore at Penn studying bioengineering and English. She has lived experience with social anxiety, depression, Tourette Syndrome and OCD. She does her best to tell OCD to pack its bags. Tourette's is an accepted, eccentric cohabitant who often tosses the word "pop" into conversation. She looks forward to working with her peers to confront the "tyrants in our heads" and becoming decisive enough to place a GrubHub order in under twenty minutes. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, drinking hot peppermint tea, and hearing folks' stories.
John Avendano is a senior at Columbia University studying Psychology, with aspirations of one day becoming a physician. He is of Filipino descent and was born and raised in New Jersey, attending a boarding school near Princeton, The Lawrenceville School, for high school. At Columbia, he is the Senior Class President of Columbia College, a member of the fencing team, a leader for the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program, a part of the college's mental health task force, and the acting President of Columbia's Project LETs chapter. There has been at least one suicide every year John has been at Columbia, and each time, it has bothered him tremendously. After attending the Ivy League Mental Health Conference at Brown University in February 2017, the idea of bringing Project LETs to Columbia, along with the PMHA program, seemed not only like a great idea; it seemed essential. He hopes that with LETS acting as an extra resource students could go to, where students feel comfortable confiding in people they see more as their peers, that the stigma of talking about mental health on campus becomes less tangible. In his spare time, John loves watching the show Suits, eating Chipotle burritos, traveling, and getting to know new people.
Michigan State University
I’m a junior at Michigan State University majoring in Art Education and Psychology. I enjoy all things art and have a great appreciation for pizza. A little more about my experience with mental illness—I have lived experience with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I have never felt comfortable talking about my mental health up until I found a group of people who have faced the same things that I have and that is why I think Project LETS is a such a great organization to have on campus. I hope to become an art therapist and aid children with mental illness and those who have faced certain trauma.
Antonija recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in Experimental Psychology. She is currently working as a research assistant in Anticevic Lab at Yale University investigating cognitive and affective changes in neuropsychiatric illness. While at Brown, Antonija was an active member of LETS, where she worked as a Peer Mental Health Advocate (PMHA) and a board member for the Second Annual Ivy Mental Health Conference. She is passionate about fighting ableist university policies & administrators and advocating for peers. In her free time, Antonija likes to cuddle with her emotional support dog and watch Netflix.