Letter from the Chief Health Officer 6/1/20

Dear USC Students,

As this week’s events across the country and in our city tear at the fabric of our communities and our hearts, we are faced with one of the most difficult aspects of our times: the disparities among different communities, leading to vastly different outcomes, and most tragically this week, in unjust and untimely death.

I know this week’s events, culminating in the very public loss of life of George Floyd, serve as a painful reminder of the inequities experienced by many of our colleagues and patients. We know the invisible scars borne by survivors of trauma can leave deep imprints. I hope you take some time to acknowledge how these events may be affecting you and your loved ones; please take some moments to be compassionate to yourself. Counselors in Counseling and Mental Health Services are available to you. They can serve as a confidential source of relief if you are feeling distress and want to talk about it.

Our campus communities have endured difficulties over the past months. Struggling with the impact of Covid-19, the sudden disruptions, and civil unrest. Helping our community heal goes to the core of who we are, what we believe, and how we serve. Student Health is united as a community that cares, and we will provide care to students who need our help.

We are extending one-time service eligibility to students (including recent May 2020 graduates) for urgent counseling or Covid-19 related care to help relieve the extraordinary stress of this moment in time. Provider care (medical and mental health) is available by TeleHealth to all USC students residing in California; workshops and “Let’s Talk” drop-ins are available to students regardless of current location.

Dr. Broderick Leaks in Counseling and Mental Health (CMH) Services will be working with the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs to host a forum on “Speaking Out Loud: Enough is Enough” on June 3 at 1 PM. Dr. Edden Agonafer, the CMH multicultural coordinator, and Kendra Archer, LCSW, the CBCSA liaison from CMH, are leading the efforts for student support. As clinicians and faculty of the Dept. of Psychiatry in the Keck School of Medicine, they and their colleagues are dedicated to supporting our students with sensitivity and professionalism. We hope these opportunities will help provide our student community with a place to express and process what they are going through during this difficult time.

We have been able to support each other because we share an intrinsic belief that our differences make us a stronger community, that our individual experiences inform and enrich the ways in which we practice care, professionally and in our personal lives. Our diverse views, backgrounds, and identities continue to be the way forward to heal our communities, and our selves.

Stay kind, stay safe, and be well.


Sarah Van Orman, M.D., MMM, FACHA
Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health