- RISE: More than a Little Help from Friends
One student’s idea has become a full-fledged peer-to-peer support program that is
shaping the campus culture.
The college experience is exhilarating and fulfilling, but often, just as equally
demanding. Georges Pichard ’13 knew that students at Simon’s Rock look after each
other and confide in one another to vent and navigate difficulties. Yet, he imagined
taking this dynamic a step further, amplifying it to create a more organized peer-to-peer
support network on campus that would be available and responsive to all students.
So, he decided to act.
Georges soon reached out to fellow Rockers Jacques Ben-Avie ’14 and Saisha Manan ’14
to explore the idea of a student-run helpline, and what began as one student’s spark,
then three, has become a full-fledged support program with trained student counselors,
educational programming, and professional support: Rockers for Intervention, Support,
and Education—or simply, RISE.
George, Jacques and Saisha swiftly explored options to make their vision a reality.
They collaborated with a variety of campus offices, recruited more student members,
and solidified an official plan of action. Within a matter of months, RISE launched
their call-line, which is now open every night from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Students
call in by phone or connect using Google Hangouts to talk about anything from academic
struggles to more personal concerns. A RISE counselor is there to listen, to help
the caller feel more grounded, and, if needed, to connect them to additional campus
and community support services. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
Building a Culture of Positivity and Support
Into its second year, RISE has become a key organization that is actively shaping
a positive campus culture. RISE played an important role during Arrival Day and Orientation
Week at the start of the 2018-19 academic year. They met with all new students and
families and led activities during Writing and Thinking Workshop to lay the foundations
for a resilient and supportive learning community. They offered mindfulness and grounding
techniques and hosted a student-only conversation for first-years to express concerns
and ask questions about how to manage the stress that often accompanies a rigorous
Throughout the school year, RISE will host periodic educational events that open up
conversations about challenging issues such as substance abuse and addressing cultural
barriers and differences. RISE also plans to dedicate a week to the importance of
self-care — “Treat Yo’ Self Week,” in collaboration with the Office of Campus Life.
Another key effort of RISE is to connect students to the array of student support
resources that already exist on campus that students might not know about including
academic support, health and wellness, disability services, equity and inclusion,
international and immigrant support, financial aid, and campus safety.
“The training process increases campus resiliency, and gets students to actively think
about how to address student concern and student need.”-Jacques Ben-Avie ’14
Student-Led, Professionally Supported
Campus Life staff member Rachel Duvall is a licensed clinical social worker and the
RISE supervisor. She trains the student counselors and provides continual mentoring.
During the training, RISE counselors become adept at active listening techniques and
attuned to common social and academic challenges facing students. They also learn
about every support resource that is available to students. So far, 50 students have
completed RISE training to become counselors, with 26 currently on rotation serving
their fellow classmates, an impressive number for this small community.
“RISE is helping build trust and community at Simon’s Rock. I’m proud to be a part
of it. I’m proud to work with the student counselors and watch RISE grow.”-Rachel Duvall,
RISE Supervisor and Title IX Coordinator
The RISE program is emblematic of the character of the student body at Simon’s Rock—compassionate,
intelligent, and motivated. Rockers are engaged with their community and don’t shy
away from putting their ideas into practice. Whether it’s initiating an effort to
update policies in the student handbook, inaugurating Pride Week on campus, or championing
reforms for food sustainability with dining services, students at Simon’s Rock are
actively shaping their campus experience. RISE is a powerful example of what young
people can accomplish when they have trust, faith, and support to create their own
“Since it was initially conceived, RISE has demonstrated responsiveness and flexibility
in meeting individual student needs and promoting a healthy campus culture; an instinct
for collaboration in working with other support services; and an impressive thoughtfulness
with regard to leadership development and sustainability. This wholly student-generated
and student-driven effort is one of the most exciting initiatives of the past several
years, and I look forward to seeing its continued growth and evolution.”-Leslie Davidson,
Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer
RISE meets Sundays at 11:00 a.m. in the Informal Lounge of Livingston Hall Student
Union. Students interested in joining RISE as a student counselor can reach out to Rachel or any RISE counselor.