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InTouch Peer Health Advocates

As InTouch PHAs, we aim to create an honest and sex-positive environment to discuss sexual health and healthy relationships that is inclusive to all identities, experiences, and ways of having sex. We educate our peers on sexual health, healthy relationships, and on- and off-campus resources through workshops and events. In doing so, we empower UChicago students to make their own decisions about their sexual health and relationships. We combat stigma against sex and intimacy through open dialogue about personal and interpersonal wellness in order to thrive as a campus community.

Rayna Acha

InTouch Student Co-Coordinator

she/her/hers | Third Year | Major: Gender and Sexuality Studies & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

"In high school I worked as a peer sex educator through Planned Parenthood, that passion has only grown over time. I love being able to tell people that their experiences are normal and talk about stigmatized topics. I want to be a part of a future where discussions about sex include discussions of pleasure, LGBTQ+ relationships, and so much more! Everyone should have access to information that helps them understand their relationships, sexual needs, and bodies."

Sophie Knifton

InTouch Student Co-Coordinator

she/her/hers | Third Year | Major(s): Psychology and Gender and Sexuality Studies 

"I am incredibly passionate about creating a more sex-positive and inclusive community at UChicago. I am particularly interested in educating about and erasing the stigmas against sexually transmitted infections as well as advocating for healthy sexual relationships. I hope one day to conduct research on the intersections of sex and psychology!"

Myra Bajwa

she/her/hers | ThirdYear | Major(s): Gender and Sexuality Studies & Law, Letters, and Society

"I am interested in reproductive rights and justice and discussing sexual health in an inclusive environment that takes gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomic factors into account. I also believe that conversations about consent should occur more than once and should be an on-going conversation."

Lucas Berard

he/him/his | Second Year | Major(s): Chemistry

"I have always been interested in teaching, medicine, and justice, and I want to join Peer Health Advocates because it falls at the intersection of the three. College is a time when many people become sexually active for the first time, and I want to help contribute to a campus where people are confident and knowledgeable about safe and respectful sex."

Isabeau Burnett

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Biology with Specialization in Deveopmental Biology; Psychology

"I joined InTouch to be a resource for other students on campus. I am passionate about advocating for sexual wellness and education and want to bridge the gap between students and healthcare providers. Everybody has the right to explore and enjoy their body, and I want to encourage and support my peers as they do so by providing a destigmatized and comforting environment where everyone can learn and ask questions!"

Elizabeth Foster

she/her/hers | Fourth Year | Major(s): History, Philosophy, Social Studies of Science and Medicine

"I was lucky enough to have a comprehensive and inclusive sexual health education in high school, which made it very disheartening for me to see how many of my friends in college felt lost in the new sexual culture they experienced. As someone who hopes to practice medicine and who has always enjoyed having open conversations about relationships and intimacy with others, I hope that I can help balance discussions of sexual health by taking into account both the emotional and physical considerations that go into healthy intimacy."

Maya Gutierrez

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Public Policy

"I’ve always been passionate about reproductive health and involved in discussions on global healthcare, especially regarding policy work and advocacy. Becoming an InTouch Peer Health Mentor has allowed me to further promote a healthier environment on our campus by facilitating positive discussions on sexual health and providing background to the various factors that may contribute to unequal sexual health resources around the world."

Elizabeth Harrison

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Classics and English

"I became an InTouch PHA because I wanted to be able to help the UChicago community learn about and celebrate sex positivity. I believe that such a culture is important to increasing the health and happiness of the student body overall."

Eva McCord

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Neuroscience (Pre-Medical Track)

"Throughout my life, I have endured a series of reproductive health complications, chief among them the discovery of a breast tumor when I was in just sixth grade. While I found infinite support and kindness within my own female-identifying physician, I was acutely aware with just how desperately I needed an outlet to express and navigate my experiences, beyond that which could be afforded in a doctor’s office. At the time, I turned both inwards and towards creative writing, which in retrospect was an effort to truly connect with others. Today, as I continue to traverse my own health journey, I recognize that the presence and accessibility of “near-peers” with which to learn from and relate to in the context of health is just as important as accessible healthcare as a whole. As an InTouch PHA, I can only hope to be the person for others that I myself wished I had almost ten years ago."

Antrita Manduva

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Biological Sciences

"I want to help facilitate productive dialogue among the student body about our health. PHA provides an avenue for this and helps us by connecting us to peers who share similar interests. I hope that through conversations with other members, I may continue to learn about health and health dialogue."

Adi Orlyanchik

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Neuroscience

"I have always been passionate about accessible sex education and reproductive care. Especially on a college campus, I think it's extremely important to make these services readily available. I am excited to work towards promoting a safe, inclusive, and healthy environment on campus for all students, regardless of their beliefs or background."

Jane Ritch

she/her/hers | Second Year | Major(s): Public Policy and Economics

"I am passionate about creating a safe environment where students feel comfortable learning and asking questions about sexual health. I believe fostering this inclusive, sex-positive environment is important because it allows students to learn about themselves and develop healthy boundaries and safe relationships with others."

Tecora Turner

she/her/hers | Second Year Medical Student

"I am passionate about sexual and reproductive health rights and justice. I also am excited to learn how to better discuss sexual health and relationships using sex positive language and in an inclusive manner. I want to teach people how important it is to confirm consent early and often."

Jenna Uhles

she/her/hers | Fourth Year | Major(s): Biological Sciences

"Many students come from abstinence-only schools or only know a few ways to protect themselves during sex. I became an Intouch PHA to help promote a sex-positve culture on campus and to inform my peers about the many options they have in regards to their sexual health."

Sex in the Dark

In Autumn 2022, the InTouch PHAs partnered with Project Reproductive Freedom to host six panelists from Student Wellness, UChicago CARES, the Ryan Center at UChicago Medicine, Planned Parenthood, and Early 2 Bed for an anonymous Q+A about sex. From sexual health practices, to navigating awkward conversations about consent and boundaries, to exploring sexual pleasure - our experts shared their knowledge and opinions. 

The Birth Control Panel

In Winter 2021, InTouch hosted a panel with sexual health professionals from Juno4Me, Howard Brown Health, and UChicago Student Wellness for The Birth Control Panel! Sexual health professionals answered questions about birth control, including debunking common misconceptions, the tea on side effects, exploring different birth control options, costs (including financial assistance, sliding scale pay, and/or transportation each organization offers -- with or without insurance!), confidentiality, how to get a prescription, and more! InTouch PHAs also spoke to their personal experiences with different types of birth control, including what factors played into their decision of which method(s) to use, their experiences switching birth control methods, and their experiences with their family when seeking or obtaining birth control for the first time

InTouch x MoM PHAs: Sexual Health & Healthy Relationships During COVID-19

What does it mean to build a relationship with yourself during COVID-19 through self-care? What do consent and sexual health look like during COVID-19? How do I set boundaries in relationships, or start difficult conversations with my friends about our expectations about socializing during COVID-19? In Winter 2021, InTouch and Mind over Matter hosted a collaborative workshop to explore these questions and more!

SAAP x InTouch PHAs Present: Battle of the Rom-Coms

In Spring 2021, InTouch collaborated with Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention (SAAP) for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)! In this event, they dissected how relationship health, consent, and intimate partner violence are depicted in some of the most iconic relationships from your favorite rom-com movies and tv shows! From Friends' Ross and Rachel to Grease's Sandy and Danny, they broke down the dynamics of famous movie and tv show relationships while discussing healthy vs. unhealthy communication, how to set boundaries, conflict resolution, healthy breakups, normalizing conversations about sex, rape culture, toxic masculinity, labels, and more!

SAAP x InTouch PHAs Present: Consent 101

InSpring 2021, InTouch collaborated with Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention (SAAP) again for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)! In this event, they went over consent 101 -- the definition of consent, what consent looks like in romantic/sexual as well as non-romantic/non-sexual scenarios, how to set boundaries in a relationship, the notion of consent beyond yes, and more!

STIs, STI Prevention, & Communicating Your Status

The InTouch PHAs discussed everything having to do with STIs: myths, symptoms, testing, prevention, communicating your status to others, and more! They also explored narratives surrounding STIs and how we may have learned (or not learned) about them growing up, answered FAQ about STIs, and went through demos of how to use external condoms, internal condoms, and dental dams!

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