MEET THE TEAM

Board of Directors

Vanessa Nguyen

Vice President

Vanessa is a psych student and likes to paint, sew, and pursue other creative endeavors in her free time!She joined the PHP because she wanted to advocate for youth mental health.Mental health is important to her because she has seen many people close to her struggle with it. Don’t be ashamed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Lara Mercurio

Outreach Project Director

Lara is a student at Sacramento State. She says she knows she's on the top of the world when drinking coffee while overseeing the beauty of Greece. Lara loves to travel and experience new cultures and areas. However, her everyday joy comes from my friends and family. Mental health is extremely important to Lara because she wants to normalize mental health care in Asian families.

Veebha Havaldar

General Board Member, and Outreach Committee

Veebha is a senior at Troy high school and is very interested in the growing field of bioengineering. She enjoys playing with her dog and hanging out with friends, and swims for her school's Varsity team. Veebha thinks mental health is just as important as physical health, but much of society today stigmatizes it as a flaw or defect. Mental health self care and awareness is necessary to live a happier, healthier life.

Makayla Santos

Vice President,Creative Committee

Makayla is an incoming freshman at UCLA with an interest in psychology and cognitive science. To pass time, she enjoys drawing, playing instruments, writing music, and gardening. She hopes in working with the PHP team, she can help provide resources to those struggling, combat damaging stigmas towards neurodivergence, and work to help many people feel understood or seen.She believes mental health is a topic that often fails to be touched upon. Upon recognizing its effect both directly and indirectly on people she cared for, she was set on working towards something to change that.To anyone currently struggling with their mental health: Whether or not you believe it, there are people in your corner who will root for and care for you. Find resources or your support system, and remember you’re more capable than you realize. Even if it isn’t easy, it is always worth it.

Cassidy Chang 

Creative Director 

Cassidy is is a rising senior from Southern California and is interested in graphic design as well as business marketing. She has been apart of her school's cybersecurity program for six years and is also on her school's newspaper. Just recently, she interned at CSUF for Computer Science. She wanted wanted to get involved with an organization that prioritizes mental health and uses its platform to spread awareness. Purple Hydrangea Project was a student-led organization that she found on Instagram. After becoming Vice President for Purple Hydrangea Club (a chapter at Troy), wanted to fully commit myself to the organization.

Asavari Gowda

General Board Member Outreach Project and Marketing Committee

Asavari is a student at Mission San Jose High School, and some of her passions include volunteering, running track, and advocating for mental health awareness. She is also a young researcher and writer on the rise. She joined the PHP team because of my passion in mental health awareness. For the past couple of years, Asavari has worked with a small committee at her school to improve the conversation around mental health.

Olivia Guerra

Treasurer,Finance Committee Director

Olivia is an incoming senior attending Troy High School and is involved in various extracurriculars including ASB, basketball, and Girl Scouts. In her free time, she likes to read, paint, and watch Netflix. Olivia joined the PHP because she has seen the effects of various mental health issues firsthand in her friends, family, and peers. She wants to be able to help anyone that I can and make a positive impact on the world.

Alyssa Tejeda

Marketing Director

Alyssa is a rising freshman at New York University, majoring in Global Public Health and Biology as a premed. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends and family. Alyssa joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because she believes it is extremely important to bring about awareness and do everything that we can to educate people on mental health

Jemima Yoon

Co-Outreach Project Director, Human Resources Committee

Jemima is currently a high school senior from Southern California who enjoys reading, journaling, and binge-watching Korean dramas until 3 in the morning. Jemima joined PHP because she wanted to play a more active role in fighting against the stigma surrounding mental health after seeing the effects such stigma had on her loved ones. Through PHP, she hopes to learn more about mental health and how she can support those struggling with their mental health.Everyone's feelings and problems are valid, no matter what anyone else may say.

Staff

Ananya Lertpradist

Marketing, outreach project, and creative committee

Ananya is a rising junior in high school and loves to play piano, basketball, and hang out with her friends and family. She joined the Purple Hydrangea Team to educate herself more about this topic, to help spread awareness to others, and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health is important to Ananya because it impacts all aspects of your life, and in order to be happy and healthy, you need to first take good care of your mental health.

Jordan Valladolid

Creative Committee

Jordan is a rising senior who enjoys playing basketball, watching movies, and running. She recently became vegan and want to pursue a sustainable way of life. She feels it is imperative that we destigmatize mental health so that others do not feel alone in their struggles with mental and that they don't hesitate to reach out to resources for help. In a world teeming with negativity, it is vital that we try to uplift others and spread positivity.

Shamailah Haque

Marketing and Creative Committee

Shamailah is a rising senior in high school and is very passionate about STEM and medicine, and hope to pursue those in the future. She joined PHP to spread awareness about mental health and make resources more accessible to anyone facing stigma or oppression in their community. Mental health is important to Shamailah because not enough people reach out when they struggle with mental health issues.  

Olivia Wojtowicz

Marketing and Outreach Committee

Olivia is a rising sophomore at Saint Josephs University in Philadelphia. She runs on both the cross country and track and field teams at her university.She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Behavioral Neuroscience and a clinical concentration. She is planning to go for her PHD, with the ultimate career goal of being a cognitive behaviorist with my own practice.Shejoined the Purple Hydrangea Team with the intention of bringing more awareness to mental health, especially focusing on the destigmatization of mental illness within my generation. She wants to use her personal strengths, such as her knowledge of mindfulness meditation and grounding techniques, to help create addition avenues for people utilize in journeys towards self love and acceptance.

Akshatha Chelluri

Marketing, Finance Committee 

Akshata is a junior in high school attending Cupertino High School. She joined the Purple Hydrangea Team to spread awareness about mental health and detach the stigma surrounding issues that people face today. She thinks maintaining good mental health will always enable you to feel and do your very best, and not being able to talk or cope with your problems, will always hold you back from truly enjoying yourself. She would advise anyone struggling with their mental health, to talk to someone about your feelings. Confronting your issues will really help you understand yourself and it may also help you find a good support system.

Moises Franco

Marketing, Outreach, Creative, HR Committee

Moises is a senior psychology student at California State University Los Angeles. His curiosity for the way the mind works, mental health, and drive to learn led him to the field of psychology. He found his passion for mental health advocacy after starting his own NAMI on Campus student club during his time at East Los Angeles College.Moises decided to join the Purple Hydrangea Team because he found a like-minded group of individuals that had one common goal in mind: mental health awareness. His passion for psychology and mental health advocacy drove him to be a part of this incredible organization. Mental health is important to Moises because it is a personal matter that turned into a passion. Moises lives with a generalized anxiety disorder which has been a blessing in disguise. He has learned more about mental health after his diagnosis, and he seeks to emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy mind.

Leslie Paulino

Tech Development Committee

Leslie is a recent Manhattan College 2020 graduate with a major in computer engineering. She has a passion in always expanding her knowledge in managing and programming technology. She joined the Purple Hydrangea Project to help out with web development as well as spreading awareness to the importance of mental health. She believes that everyone should always be in tune with their inner self and be open/feel safe enough to express their thoughts and worries as we never know how close we may be towards a solution.

Ilyssa Guerra

 Outreach project committee

Ilyssa is an undergraduate senior majoring in psychology with a concentration in developmental psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school to get a Masters' Degree in Mental Health Counseling and become a psychotherapist. During her leisure time, she likes to read, watch movies/shows, try different food places, and go for long walks.She wanted to join to connect with other young adults devoted to de-stigmatizing mental illness and promoting mental health. Mental health research and recognition is often devoted to adults. However, mental illness affects millions of children, teenagers, and young adults worldwide. It is pivotal that young people feel that there is a space for them to receive attention and resources for their mental health.Be your own advocate for your mental health. You deserve the best possible care and treatment. Mental illness is very real. Find things that make you happy, such as reading, drawing, or writing. Throughout all struggles, maintain your resilience. Remember your strengths and that you have the ability to get through the challenges.

Kristine Huynh

Creative and Tech Dev. Committee

Kristine is a rising high school senior, and her free time is spent on cooking, painting, and playing video games. She joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because I believe there should be more awareness and support for mental health. Being a child of a war refugee, Kristine has witnessed having a loved one struggled with mental health illness and feeling helpless at her inabilities to help them.

Srinidhi Raghavan

Outreach Project Committee

Srinidhi is a rising sophomore who wants to help people however she can. She does a lot of volunteer work in and out of school and also foster pets.She  joined because it seems like a place where she could make a difference and do good. She wants to see people get better and help spread awareness and break the stigma around mental health.Her school is extremely competitive and this taxes the students and stresses them out. People get a lot of pressure from everywhere to do better and she has seen people breakdown and ignore it.She does not want to see that again and wants them to get help, get better, and thrive.

Saavarni Chilukuri

Finance,Creative and Outreach Committee

Saavarni is a senior at Walnut High school and enjoys dancing, playing water polo, and swimming. She has been in Girl Scouts for 10 years and is passionate about giving back to her community. She is also a part of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and hopes to go into medicine in the future. Saavarni joined the Purple Hydrangea Team because she believes in advocating and raising awareness for mental health issues. Mental health is important to her because it is something she sees many people struggling with. She believes that it shouldn't be something to be afraid or ashamed of. It is always one small step at a time, and even if doesn't seem like there's a way out, there is always a way. One day you'll wake up and realize the sky is clear, and it'll all be okay.

Diana Quintuña

 Tech Development Committee

In her free time she is learning web development, and helping other non-profits  with their  wix/weebly sites.She joined PHP because she fell in love with their mission of making spread mental health awareness. And provide resources to work on ones mental health. 

Anoushka Sinha

Marketing and Creative Committee

Anoushka is a high school senior, stem researcher and a singer. She loves science, music and also creating graphics and communicating with people. She is a passionate advocate for mental health and child rights. She hopes to create a positive change in the society. She joined PHP because she was inspired by the student led organization and its work. She wanted to contribute to the pressing issue of mental health and has seen her friends suffer from it and wanted to create a positive impact Purple Hydrangea Project was the best way that she could have done that. Being someone who has been bullied in school and suffered from anxiety she feels very strongly about mental health. She has seen her fiends struggling with it and hence mental health is really important to her. It shouldn’t be handled as a stigma rather embraced openly and we should support and help the person struggling because of it. The clouds over you might be dark and heavy but remember that it’s about to rain and all your worries would shed away and you will see the rainbow of happiness, love and joy soon. Stay Strong!

Michelle Siu

Outreach project, marketing, and finance committee

Michelle is an incoming senior and part of the Walnut High School Varsity Cheer Team. She also did gymnastics for 6 years. Throughout high school, she's become invested in Sports Medicine and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). In college, Michelle wants to study Kinesiology in hopes of becoming a physical therapist. With PHP, she hopes to bring awareness, a comfortable environment to speak and reach out for help, and more accessible mental health resources to everyone.

Vanessa Cano

Outreach, and Marketing Committee

Vanessa is a proud Latinx woman who will work as a biotech and mechanical engineer and has the desire to inspire and teach others how to break standards and molds. She is also a superhero nerd that loves to dance and make friends. The team gave her connections and a platform to shine a light on the importance of mental health for everyone and an overall team with the same passion. Mental health is important to her because it’s not talked about enough in many communities and in her own experience, it is overlooked or ignored. She has seen how detrimental it can be with my friends and family. It needs to be discussed and more apparent, she can’t/couldn’t stand by anymore and also avoid another important factor of life. It’s okay if it feels like the world is coming down and there seems to be no sunshine at the end of the tunnel. You just have to remind yourself that you aren’t the only one in a tunnel and if you look hard enough through the cracks or holes, someone else may also be stuck too. Look for them and others, and maybe just maybe, you can work together, save each other.

Samii Siu

Marketing and Creative Committee

Samii is a senior at UCSB studying Microbiology and minoring in Asian American Studies. At school, she's involved in making graphics and being a supporter for the UCSB chapter of Lean On Me, another mental health nonprofit organization. When she's not studying, she's usually watching Netflix, hanging out with my housemates, or attempting to cook.Mental health is important to her because she grew up in a community where there was such a huge stigma against mental health and nobody talked about it. She wants to make sure that young people like me don't feel like they are alone and can learn about ways to deal with mental health issues early on in life.

Anna Zhang

Tech Development Commitee

Anna is a sophomore at Yale University studying computer science. Aside from CS, she is interested in sustainability and AI. She is passionate about using technology to spread awareness about mental health and fight the stigma. She hopes that by being a part of the Purple Hydrangea Project, she can contribute to this field, and ensure that there is a stronger sense of community and that everyone feels like they belong. Even though one in five teens have some mental illness, it's bewildering that there is still such a strong stigma, and Anna believes that we must all contribute to this cause. 

Rena Feng

Marketing, Creative Committee

Rena is a student at Buchholz High School and loves to play guitar, go to the beach, and hang out with friends and family. As a part of the Purple Hydrangea Project, she hopes to help spread awareness about mental health and erase the stigma around talking about our mental health. To anyone who is currently struggling with their mental health: you are not alone. Do not be afraid to reach out for help.

Kelly Dai

Outreach and Creative Committee

Kelly is a junior at Walnut High School and is a part of her school's choir and ASB. Her passions are music, art, and people. She hopes to improve at digital art and go down the animation career path. She fell in love with the Purple Hydrangea Project's mission statement and joined to contribute to the advocacy of mental health and erasure of the stigma around it. As mental health is something that affects everyone and is especially prevalent among teens, it is incredibly important to her that teens are able to talk about their issues without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Don't feel embarrassed or afraid to reach out. Whether it be a professional or someone familiar, find someone or something where you can find comfort in and be able to talk about your mental health struggles.

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