Meet Our Staff

H&W

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'Sharleen Action'

Sharleen O'Brien

Associate Dean & Director of Health & Wellness

Associate Dean & Director of Health & Wellness | PsyD, Lic. Psychologist, 20314

Sharleen O’Brien is the Director of the Health & Wellness department, overseeing health promotion programs & strategies to improve student well-being and success at UCSB.   She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2003 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.  Sharleen has expertise in health psychology, mindfulness meditation, sleep health, and psychological well-being. 

Before coming to UC Santa Barbara, Sharleen was core faculty in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at Antioch University, Clinical Director of New Beginnings Counseling Center, and also served as a consultant writer on the California Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention for the California Department of Mental Health, Prevention Branch.  

Dr. O’Brien brings over 10 years of leadership experience and 18 years of clinical practice and teaching clinical psychology.  She is passionate about applying her background to advance broader initiatives designed to strengthen the living and learning environment and promote a culture of health & well-being so that all can thrive.  Sharleen loves the outdoors, hiking, biking, yoga, movies, cooking, and gardening.  

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Joanna Hill

HEALTH EDUCATION SPECIALIST

Health Education Specialist | Stress Reduction, Eating Disorders, Body Image

Joanna Hill is originally from “the” Valley (San Fernando). She started as a student in The Department of Health & Wellness in 1996. She was a Relationships Peer, summer theater actor and instructional assistant before she earned her BA in Sociology in 1997. She has worked for the UCSB Arts Library, UCSB Alumni Association, and with autistic men at the Devereux Foundation. Joanna’s staff career in Health & Wellness began in 2001 as advisor for the Sexual Health Peers and the Relationships Peers. Over the years, she has trained students, staff, and faculty on all areas of Health & Wellness, her favorites being body image and meditation. Joanna currently oversees Health & Wellness Internships, the Advocate Program, and the eating disorder prevention/body image program. Joanna enjoys exploring Santa Barbara with her family, their 2 cats and sweet dog, Maisy.

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Michael "Maka" Takahara

Health Education Specialist

Health Education Specialist | Marketing, Positive Psychology

Michael Kenji Takahara was raised in Monterey Park and received his B.A. in Psychology from UCSB in 1993. He worked at UCSB Housing, Dining & Auxiliary Services as an assistant resident director before joining Health & Wellness in 1996. Michael is passionate about Health & Wellness because “it allows me to give back to the community that made me who I am. I love helping students develop meaning in their lives, building their skills, strengthen their positive relationships, achieve their goals, and increase their positive emotions.” He thinks it is funny that he stars in a weekly web series, Mondays with Maka. In addition to enjoying his family, Michael volunteers his time with Catholic Engaged Encounter, enjoys comic book geek culture, plays guitar, and enjoys the ocean and clouds everyday.

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Emily Teter

Health Education Specialist

Health Education Specialist | Sleep & Meditation

Emily Teter grew up in Carpinteria, California and received her Bachelors from UCLA, studying both Anthropology and Film. She worked with various student organizations as an undergrad including The Watts Tutorial Program, where she was a tutor and student mentor. One of her favorite experiences in college was studying abroad in Rome, Italy.  She has completed two Mindfulness Meditation teacher training programs, one with The Center for Koru Mindfulness and one developed specifically for the Department of Health & Wellness. Emily is passionate about helping students discover their own innate ability to be mindful and aware while cultivating tools towards self-compassion and resiliency. 

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Mallory Action

Mallory Russell

Health Education Generalist

Health Education Generalist | Food, Nutrition & Basic Skills

Mallory Russell is a Health Educator with the Department of Health and Wellness. She teaches cooking series and workshops that focus on food, nutrition, and basic skills. With a background in landscape architecture, she always found herself drawn to food and has worked in a variety of culinary worlds: educational farms, commercial kitchens, school gardens, catering, health clinics, and teaching pop-up cooking and nutrition classes. These experiences drove home the power of food to shape our environment, our identity, our communities, and our health. 

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Braeden Bailey | he/him/his

Community Engagement & Data Analyst

Braeden Bailey was raised in Fresno, California and graduated from UCSB in 2022, receiving a B.S. in both Data Science and Psychology. At Health & Wellness, he provides insights into student life and events through data analysis, allowing for better focus on how to improve student well being. Braeden was drawn to this position at Health & Wellness because he is passionate about working with data and is excited by the opportunity to be a part of the UCSB community again. Braeden also enjoys constantly picking up new hobbies; most recently crocheting, gardening, and arcade stick building.

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Megan Rosenthal

Culinary Health Educator

Culinary Health Educator | Food Nutrition & Basic Skills

Megan Rosenthal is a Culinary Health Educator with the Department of Health and Wellness. She teaches pop-up workshops and classes focused on food, nutrition and basic skills. Her culinary background as a personal chef, organic farmer and health educator in Santa Barbara County inspires her facilitation of student and community education in cooking, basic skills, nutrition, and food systems. She has certificates in Herbalism & Nutrition, Permaculture Design and Yoga Teacher Training. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies at UCSB, and as a student in Blue Horizons her team's environmental documentary was selected to premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In her free time she enjoys being in the ocean, spinning pottery on the wheel, and adventuring outdoors.

Wellness Center Lead Interns

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Belinda | she/her/hers

Wellness Center Lead

Major: Psychological and Brain Science

Minor: Applied Psychology

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I am grateful to have the opportunity to address  health equity related issues on campus and become a resourceful and compassionate leader for students and interns through the wellness center lead position. I am also very excited to form more meaningful connections with other departments and organizations on campus. 

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Claire Tseng | she/her

Wellness Center Lead

Major: Communication

Why did you want to become and H&W intern?

I aspired to become a Health and Wellness intern because I sought to join a community that prioritizes health equity, fostering both physical and mental support among its members. My goal is to extend the reach of this community, making events and resources readily accessible to students, faculty, and staff. 

Food, Nutrition, Basic Needs and Health Equity Interns

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Paola Granadillo | she/her/ella

Food, Nutrition, and Basic Skills Lead Intern

Major: Political Science

Minor: Latin American and Iberian Studies

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I would like to teach the UCSB community the good eating habits from a Latina perspective where my food can be seen as unhealthy, difficult, and greasy when in reality it can contain great nutrients and be accessible to all! It is also a great opportunity to work with amazing peers and supervisors.

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Annalis Molina-Aced | she/her

Food, Nutrition, and Basic Skills Intern

Major: Psychology & Brain Sciences

Minor: Feminist Studies

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to get people passionate about food systems, fight food insecurity, and engage with my community! Food & and our relationship to it is so fundamental to our health & wellbeing. I can’t wait to explore more about food sustainability, agroecology, and fostering community spaces! 

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Gianna Zeno | she/her

Food, Nutrition, and Basic Skills Intern

Major: Biology

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I believe a knowledge of food, nutrition and kitchen skills is a valuable asset that will not only last a lifetime but encourages the celebration of different cultures and communities. I want to be a Health and Wellness intern so that I can support and guide fellow students through this sometimes daunting journey provide an outlet for insightful resources.  

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Leanne Ly | she/her

Food, Nutrition, Basic Skills, & Health Equity Intern

Major: Environmental Studies

Minor: Architecture & Urban History

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

Food is such an integral part of our lives because it helps us connect with ourselves, communities, and the environment. Being a part of the Health & Wellness team means I can help empower students to foster that connection so that they can have healthy and fulfilling lives.

Marketing and Communications Interns

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Rachel | she/her/hers

Marketing and Communication Lead Intern

Major: Political Science and Communication

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to be a H&W intern because I wanted to help promote an organization that cares about the student body’s wellbeing. Health & Wellness facilitates the success of the students at UCSB and it’s an environment where I can learn from others and use those skills to promote that mission.

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Selena Zeng | she/her

Marketing and Graphic Design Intern

Major: Statistics and Data Science 

Why did you want to become and H&W intern?

I wanted to be a Health and Wellness intern to help promote events that ultimately improve the wellbeing of the student body and the people around me. I also wanted to find a supportive environment to develop my professional skills and gain meaningful relationships. 

Physical Health Interns

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Meenakshi Manoj | she/her

Physical Health Intern

Major: Biology

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

With a passion for health and physical/mental wellbeing, I want to promote conversation and events on sexual health, physical fitness, vaccines, illness prevention, and alcohol/drug abuse in my community :) An amazing aspect about Health & Wellness is that we promote other diverse aspects of wellness, complementing the health resources Student Health provides.

Mindfulness, Sleep Health, and Social Emotional Health Interns

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Scotty Sutherland | he/him

Sleep Health Intern

Major: Psychological and Brain Sciences

Minor: Applied Psychology

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to pursue an internship at Health and Wellness because of the inherent challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, particularly during the demanding years of college. My specific focus is on promoting a fundamental pillar of well-being — sleep. My aim is to educate and support fellow students, offering them valuable insights and actionable techniques to improve their sleep quality and, ultimately, their overall well-being and academic success. 

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Samy Meftoul | he/him

International Student Support Intern

Major: Stats and Data Science 

Why did you want to become and H&W intern?

I aspire to join the health and wellness center due to my personal journey as an international student in college, where I witnessed the ease of neglecting health and adopting negative habits. I aim to assist international students, ensuring they have a fulfilling experience, worthy of their global journey to study here. I would love to contribute to creating a better and safe environment for all students across campus.

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Jonny | he/him/his

Meditation Intern

Major: Biopsychology 

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I have a strong passion to help others in the many ways that people can improve their health and wellness, but I specialize in social and emotional health with meditation and I hope to incorporate this specialty into therapy after I graduate. I get a chance to help people in all of these domains on a large yet personal scale as a H&W intern.

Self Care, Eating Disorder Prevention and Body Image Interns

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Teagan Hart | she/her

Eating Disorder Prevention and Body Image Intern

Major: Psychological and Brain Sciences

Minor: Applied Psychology

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to work on the topic of body image at H&W because I've experienced firsthand how much positive change programming like The Body Project Series can make; it helped me integrate compassionate body acceptance into my daily life, and increased my confidence in discussing and resisting the appearance ideal. I’m excited to train the next generation of facilitators who will be leading The Body Project each quarter and spreading these tools and insights to more people in the UCSB community.

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Jacob | he/him/his

Men’s Body Image and Eating Disorder Prevention Intern

Major: CCS Writing and Literature

Why did you want to become and H&W intern?

 I have worked with Health & Wellness since 2022 and was motivated to do so by a passion for helping others which was strengthened by personal experiences with poor body image and disordered eating. Since then, I have broadened my scope at Health & Wellness to not just address disordered eating and poor body image amongst men but also poor sexual education and general negativity - I focus EDBI, Sexual Health, Positive Psychology, and am happy to support my peers through those focuses. 

 

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Casey Lopez | she/her

Stress Management and Self-Care Intern

Major: Psychological and Brain Sciences

Why did you want to become and H&W intern?

Health and Wellness programming helped ease my transition into college and offered me many resources for taking care of my wellbeing. I wanted to work at Health and Wellness to give back to the UCSB community and help other students have a safe space to turn to despite the stresses of academic life.

Data Management Interns

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Krish | he/him/his

Data Science Intern

Major: Computer Science

Minor: Statistical Science

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to be an H&W intern because I really enjoyed how welcoming all of their events and their center was. Being able to be part of this organization will help me give back to others and impact them in the same way I felt before I became an intern.

 

Online Programs and Website Management Interns

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Winbert Zhang | he/him/his

Website Development Intern

Major: Computer Science

Why did you want to be a H&W intern?

I wanted to join the Health and Wellness department because I wanted to help promote healthy lifestyles and support a balance between academics and wellbeing. I'm excited to apply computer science tools to empower our community in their pursuit of wellbeing and personal growth.