By Alison Stapp
Tower Staff Writer
Many students are unaware that when they enroll for classes, they pay requisite health fees each semester. A table set up in the Student Center is there to remind students what they were paying for.
Health ambassadors occupy tables and inform students about pervasive health issues and they are eager to impart valuable information—access to community mental and physical health care providers, and support regarding sexual abuse and suicide prevention.
Their services are available Monday through Thursday during the lunch hour. On-campus care includes free mental health, massage, and acupuncture appointments.
Thanks to the efforts of health ambassador Meghan Moriarty, the health services table also offers her cookbook—“Peralta Success: A Short Cookbook with High-Nutrient, Fast, Low-Cost Meals for Students.”
“I wanted to create something that would speak to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes at Laney,” she said.
Moriarty went on to say that students are often unsure of what to eat because they haven’t been exposed to “real food.”
Her cookbook, she said, would help newcomers to the kitchen get comfortable cooking and experimenting with ingredients.
Laney mental health counselor Lisa Sawadogo sang Moriarty’s praise, saying she was “one of the most motivated and hard-working students that I’ve ever met.”
Sawadogo said that Moriarty had worked very hard on compiling a resource list for Laney’s medical staff.
“I don’t remember ever having another student taking on a project like that, being self-motivated and really completing something from start to finish.”
For her cookbook, Moriarty researched and experimented with different ideas in conceptual situations to appeal to the broadest spectrum of people.
A new and enhanced cookbook is also in the idea stages that Moriarty says will both include contributions from students and speak to the “wonderful diversity of our campus.”
The cookbook author also coordinated the last Laney Wellness Fair, contacting over 45 different health-related organizations to invite them to participate.
Moriarty was the “go-to person that day for vendors and food,” Sawadogo said. “She really seemed to be in her element with all of the hustle and bustle. She was the point person who made sure everything ran smoothly.”
Moriarty designed the fair’s flyer, and was the point person for all of the vendors, running all over the Quad, answering questions and solving issues on the spot.
“Meghan Moriarty is very hardworking, very resourceful, very determined, and filled with amazing ideas. She is simply stellar.”
Health Services Office Manager Veronica Crawford first met Moriarty while doing outreach at the Laney Quad.
Moriarty asked Crawford about internships and was soon selected as a health ambassador. Only a handful of students earned these positions.
Crawford described Moriarty as “very hardworking, very resourceful, very determined, and filled with amazing ideas. She is simply stellar.”While Crawford first initiated the idea of an interactive “health wheel,” for the Wellness Fair, “Meghan ran with it,” Crawford said.
Students will spin the wheel and answer health questions when the wheel stops. Huge, elaborate, and very heavy, the kinetic wooden wheel that will be used for upcoming wellness fairs was designed, created, and built by Moriarty and her boyfriend, who is a graphic artist at Stanford.
Moriarty said she doesn’t remember eating meals with her family, except at McDonald’s. Grappling with addiction, her parents weren’t capable of supporting her needs.
She was just 12 when she left home. She went to live with friends and ultimately with her uncle, who became her most ardent supporter and lifelong inspiration.
A former journalism major and Spanish minor at Chico State, Moriarty left school just shy of graduation. After leaving school, she came back to the Bay Area so she could join her uncle. She became a licensed massage therapist, often volunteering her skills so that people could experience what is often considered a luxury.
“Massage helps us to slow down, to quiet the mind and just be in our body,” Moriarty said. “The exchange of energy from practitioner to client, client to practitioner can be really beautiful.”
It seems that Moriarty is a renaissance woman.
An artist and musician, Moriarty also tutors Spanish, helps run an art space, coordinates big dinners where she can hone her chops as a chef, and works at a restaurant that specializes in seasonal, local and responsibly grown food.
“While taking on major projects, she also was taking really difficult classes and juggling life,” Sawadogo said.
Her passion for health inspired her to start taking prerequisites for nursing school. She took immediately to the sciences, and now volunteers as a tutor in anatomy.
She still volunteers in the community and won an award for her vegetarian chili in a cook-off. As Sawadogo says, “I couldn’t say enough about her. Laney is lucky to have a student like her on campus.”