Meet Your Peer Advisors

Bridget Aumais
Brian Boates
Mary Cole
Anne Hickey
Elizabeth Marcuse
Alexandria McGowan
Brenna Pevato
Shirley Zhen


Bridget Aumais
Graduation Year: 2015
Track: Social Science
Hours: Wednesday 2:30-4:00 pm; Thursday 12:30-2:00 pm

As a freshman, I chose to be a Public Health major because I wanted to make a difference in people’s health without being in the medical field.  What I love about public health is learning how ingenuity and thinking outside the box can lead to creative ways to improve a population’s health before they become sick or injured. Later on, I chose to pursue Education as my collateral field.  In the future, I would like to work in the field of maternal and child health to educate expecting mothers and mothers of young children on how to keep themselves and their children healthy and thriving. 

One of my favorite things I have been involved with in Public Health is volunteering at the DKMS Donor Registry Drive last spring with the UMass Public Health Club.  We got to register hundreds of UMass students to become potential bone marrow donors for people fighting blood cancer.  It was so rewarding to know that our work could potentially save lives and at the very least we educated many students about the Donor Registry and the bone marrow donation process!

My tip for new students is that organization is essential to your success.  I have found it so helpful to keep a planner with a monthly calendar as well as a daily to-do list so I always know what needs to be done and what important events are coming up.


Brian Boates
Graduation Year: 2015
Track: Social Science
Hours: Monday 3:30-5:00 pm; Friday 9:30-11:00 am

Hi! My name is Brian and I am a junior studying Public Health on the Social Science track. I am pursuing a certificate in Public Policy and Administration and also plan to complete my Master’s degree through the Public Health 4+1 program in Health Policy and Management.

My future goals include working in hospital management to discover ways to keep the cost of care for individuals and communities as low as possible while maintaining the quality of care that they are receiving.

One thing I have learned from my time in college so far, is that if you have a goal, make a plan to achieve it and stick to it. Even if your goals change, just revise your plan! College is an extremely stressful time during someone’s life. I have found that if you find what you want and lay out the steps to achieve it, it’s a whole lot less stressful. Also, find what you enjoy doing at UMass and use that as a stress reliever. College is about getting a degree, but is doesn’t have to be all books and studying. Get involved!


Mary Cole
Track: Science
Hours: Wednesday 10:00 am -1:00 pm

Hi everyone! My name is Mary Cole and I am on the science track with a minor in psychology and concentration in kinesiology and nutrition. I found the Public Health major my sophomore year by pursuing my interest in completing prerequisite courses to become a nurse. By junior year, I became a peer advisor and my interests drastically changed. Instead of curing sick people, I wanted to prevent sickness and disease. My interests now lie within health promotion and community health education.

Along with involvement in the peer advising team, I am part of the peer health educators. I am also a member of the women’s Cross Country and Track and Field team here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am thrilled to take on the leadership role as captain of the Cross Country team this fall! Additionally, I interned at the YMCA working on a Mass in Motion Project this summer. I created a Public Education and Social Media campaign in order to promote a healthy lifestyle to Franklin, MA residents and local communities. When I graduate, I plan to get my masters degree in the near future along with traveling and working in the public health field.

I encourage everyone to explore, volunteer, and get involved with the community as soon as possible! I waited until my junior year to truly immerse myself with the countless opportunities UMass offers. My junior year, I participated in the Alternative Spring Break Program to Memphis, Tennessee. This is one of the greatest experiences I have partaken in; I strongly encourage others to participate in similar volunteer opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone and get involved!


Anne Hickey
Graduation Year: 2015
Track: Social Science
Hours: Tuesday 12:30-3:30 pm

My name is Anne Hickey and I am a Junior from Westford, MA. I am on the Social Science track and will be graduating in 2015. I will be completing an Education minor as my Collateral Field option. I chose to become a Public Health Major because I have a desire to learn different ways to serve my community and I want to change the way the world thinks about health. I like the fact that Public Health encourages volunteering and community collectively.

My favorite class at UMass is “My Body, My Health” with Dr. Dan Gerber. I took this class first semester my freshman year, and knew I had to get into Public Health. This class really taught me what I didn’t get to hear in my high-school health class! Overall, my interest in health education skyrocketed. A big thing I had to learn when I got to UMass was how to manage my time. With so many things to do on this huge campus, it is easy to get distracted. Organization is key to managing your time! I have a big, desktop calendar so I can see everything I have to do in a week. I schedule in time for work and due dates, but time for breaks and fun things too! My best advice for being successful is to be yourself and to never give up on your dreams! Work hard to get what you want, and have a great time doing so!


Elizabeth Marcuse
Graduation Year: 2014
Track: Science
Hours: Monday 11:10 am -12:10 pm; Thursday 2:00-3:45 pm

Hey everyone! My name is Elizabeth Marcuse, I’m from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst my sophomore year and have been in the major ever since. I love this major because it gives you a lot of freedom to explore other interests. The classes are great and the community is even better. I have such a passion for health and helping people, so this major was perfect for me.

In addition to being a Public Health major, I’m also pursuing the pre-med track and a minor in Sociology, which is also how I’m fulfilling my collateral field. After my undergraduate career, I hope to work in women’s health before pursuing medical school, and maybe even volunteer overseas! This past summer, I worked for a public health non-profit organization that works very closely with the Maine CDC to help create local and state public health initiatives. I assisted them with a communications plan, as well as research related to new avenues of health care reform. It was a great learning experience that led to a better understanding of careers within the Public Health field.

My best advice to succeed at UMass Amherst is to get involved and have fun! The Public Health community is so integrative and diverse. Getting out there only increases your chances of finding someone or something really cool that’s just for you, like an internship opportunity, club leadership position, or research work. Don’t give up, try not to get too stressed, and enjoy college! I’ll be looking forward to meeting you and assisting you during the next couple of semesters in any way that I can!


Alexandria McGowan
Track: Social Science
Hours: Monday 8:00-11:00 am

My name is Alexandria McGowan and I am a rising Senior from Dedham, Massachusetts. I am a Public Health major on the Social Science track with a Culture, Health, and Science certificate. I am the Vice President of Public Health club for the 2013-2014 academic year. Additionally, I am a Peer Health Educator and an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for My Body, My Health. I chose to major in Public Health because I have a passion for working with people. Additionally, Public Health focuses on improving the quality of life for entire communities. Public Health is such a broad field, with a multitude of different options and professions.  

During the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Europe for seven weeks. I was stationed in Copenhagen, Denmark, but also explored Prague, Vienna, Munich, and Amsterdam, to name a few. Abroad, I studied health policy and corporate social responsibility. My study abroad experience was a unique opportunity because I was able to look at Public Health in Europe and compare that to my knowledge of Public Health in the United States. I visited numerous health institutions and learned about the detailed components of Denmark’s and Holland’s healthcare system. Through this experience, I was able to observe firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of healthcare in Europe and the United States.

Upon graduation, I plan to gain some work experience in the field before completing my Master’s. Currently, I am interested in community health education and health policy. I plan to do more traveling before I settle into a career. I believe learning from life experience is equally as important as academic or work experience. I look forward to sharing my passion for Public Health with my peers this year, and answering any Public Health related questions that I can.


Brenna Pevato
Graduation Year: 2014
Track: Social Science
Hours: Monday 12:30-3:30 pm

Hi everyone! My name is Brenna Pevato and I am from Ludlow, Massachusetts. I am on the social science track and graduating in 2014. I am also completing the Culture, Health, and Science Certificate. For my collateral field, I chose my own topic, which revolves mainly around women’s health, as well as environmental issues. I plan to either attend graduate school to pursue an MBA in hospital administration, or become a nurse practitioner. Aside from classes, I spend the rest of my time staying busy by being involved in my community. I am a member of the Public Health Club, Habitat for Humanity, and a Brother in the co-ed honors Fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi. In addition, I am an undergraduate teaching assistant for My Body, My Health, and a Peer Health Educator for the Center for Health Promotion in Health Services on campus.

The best public health experience I have had thus far was my study abroad experience this past summer in Copenhagen, Denmark and Amsterdam. I studied Health Delivery and Prioritization in Northern Europe. I learned about the differences between the European and the United States healthcare systems, along with interesting healthcare practices, such as midwives. I highly recommend studying abroad because it is an amazing and eye opening experience that you will never forget! I love public health as a major because I have always wanted to be in the healthcare field, but couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to do. This major allowed me to explore many different options through opportunities, such as the collateral field and studying abroad to find what I am passionate about. I cannot imagine myself studying anything else!


Shirley Zhen
Graduation Year: 2015
Track: Science
Hours: Tuesday 11:00 am -12:30 pm; Thursday 11:00 am -12:30 pm

Hello! My name is Shirley Zhen and I am from New Bedford, Massachusetts. I am also pursuing the 5-college Asian Studies Certificate and am on the pre-med track. I never knew about the Public Health field until I came to UMass. I got my first taste of Public Health in Professor Paula Stamps’ class, “Healthcare For All”. It really got me thinking about how our healthcare system works in America and what I wanted to do with my studies. I continued to study Public Health and enrolled in Professor Gerber’s class, “My Body, My Health” (which is also my favorite class). Between these two classes, I started to learn what Public Health was really about. I also grew to love the holistic aspect of health that Public Health promotes.

My favorite UMass experience to date was my semester abroad in Japan. It is also my best Public Health experience because I learned so much about the field just by interacting with other cultures. I had never left the United States before and the opportunity to travel truly taught me how to be respectful of different customs and of how communities unfamiliar to your own may act. If I never had this study abroad experience, I may have never known how differently people can really think. What is normal for you, may not be normal for others. So my advice is to meet many new people in order to gain insights other than your own, and make connections!