What is FAU Thrive?

FAU Thrive aims to build a network of people and resources to support FAU students, faculty, and staff in living full, rich, healthy lives, and overcoming psychological struggles. As an FAU family in partnership with our local community, we are BETTER TOGETHER!

FAU Thrive Wellness and Support Network is a mental health and wellness initiative started by Dr. Laura Vernon. Our team is creating and promoting wellness resources and opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members, including mental health training and learning opportunities, faculty and staff certification programs, FAU and community support services for students, and a hub for our FAU family to find all things mental health and wellness at FAU.

  

Leadership Team


Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Dr. Laura Vernon

FAU Thrive Director
lvernon@fau.edu

Dr. Vernon is Professor of Psychology at the Wilkes Honors College, the Provost Fellow for Student Mental Health, and Faculty Fellow of Student Affairs at Florida Atlantic University. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Dr. Vernon completed two undergraduate honors theses in Psychology and Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed an internship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at Central Michigan University’s Trauma and Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Dr. Vernon enjoys exploring the fascinating nuances of Psychopathology, Psychotherapy, Positive Psychology, and Social Psychology with her students. Dr. Vernon’s lab broadly examines anxiety disorders, emotion, cognition, and mindfulness. Some of her recent research has examined the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based equine assisted therapy for clinical patients, the usefulness of brief mindfulness interventions for college students, the contributions of fear and disgust to spider phobia, and the cognitive processes of emotion and phobias. She is also interested in the potential for games and online gaming to revolutionize teaching and learning. Dr. Vernon leads FAU Thrive, a series of initiatives aimed at improving college student mental health through collaborative efforts by faculty, students, administrators, staff, and community partners.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Mya Arscott

Wilkes Honors College, FAU Thrive Undergraduate Student Leader
marscott2019@fau.edu

Mya Arscott is a third-year student studying Psychology at FAU’s Wilkes Honors College. Outside of classes, she enjoys cooking, dancing, and spending time with her cats. After graduation, she plans on continuing her education in Psychology and aspires to have a career providing mental health resources to youth in underrepresented communities. While at FAU Thrive, she hopes to spread awareness and further destigmatize mental health issues while also promoting resources and events that can improve the wellbeing of students and faculty.

katherine

Katherine Hanner

Wilkes Honors College, FAU Thrive Undergraduate Student Leader
khanner2020@fau.edu

Katherine Mali Hanner is a second-year student at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU. Although undecided in her career pursuits, she has a passion for working with children and youth through various mentorship programs at local schools and her church. Regardless of what field she ends up pursuing, she plans to continue investing in the lives and mental wellness of those around her. Mali is proud to be part of the FAU Thrive team and contribute to encouraging mental well-being throughout college and beyond.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Maureen Tanner

Wilkes Honors College, FAU Thrive Undergraduate Student Leader
mtanner2019@fau.edu

Maureen Tanner is a fourth-year student at the Honors College studying Biological Chemistry and Mathematics. Planning on graduating in Spring of 2023, she has the goal of pursuing a MD/Ph.D. in Anesthesiology. As part of the FAU Thrive team, Maureen helps to coordinate the posting of blogs and the planning of events. In addition to her studies and interest in spreading awareness concerning mental health, she participates in a variety of extracurriculars, including swimming, researching, volunteering, and going to the park with her two dogs. Through FAU Thrive, Maureen works to provide the student body and greater community with mental health-related resources.

Thrive Members


Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Mia Lin Amato

Wilkes Honors College
mamato2020@fau.edu

Mia Lin Amato is a senior at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU studying Cellular Neuroscience with focuses in Psychology and Data Science. As Mia moves toward graduating in the Spring of 2023, she plans on pursuing a career as a genetic counselor through a dual MS/Ph.D. program. Aside from her academics, she spends her free time exercising, listening to scientific podcasts, reading, and traveling with her family. As she is joining the FAU Thrive family, she plans on lending a hand in editing and writing blogs, along with advocating for the prioritization of the mental well-being of the student body.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Rachel Hall

Wilkes Honors College
rachelhall2018@fau.edu

Rachel Hall is a junior transfer student at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU. She received her Associate of Arts degree from Palm Beach State College on the President’s List and Summa Cum Laude. Rachel is a writing major hoping to delve further into different fields and genres from fiction, nonfiction, professional, as well as other parts of the writing process and industry like publishing and editing. She is also passionate about mental health, disability rights and advocacy, and psychology as a whole. In her free time, Rachel also enjoys collecting, arts and crafts, reading, and helping others in their own creative endeavors and passions. She has always wanted to write for a health and wellness magazine, so she is very thankful for FAU and Thrive for the opportunity and hopes that through her writing she can create a more accessible community at FAU and in the world.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Roni Kissil

College of Education
rkissil2019@fau.edu

Roni Kissil is a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in Early Childhood education at FAU on the Boca Raton campus. In the future, Roni aspires to be a first grade teacher, and earn a Reading Endorsement so she can help students with their reading. Roni’s love for teaching and helping others often carries into her Thrive work by educating the community about mental health awareness. When Roni is not in classes or meetings, she is either working at Blaze Pizza, at a sorority event, or chilling at home with her pets. Roni enjoys doing puzzles, watching Netflix, Zumba, and socializing with friends.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Emily Peraza

Wilkes Honors College
eperaza2022@fau.edu

Emily Peraza is a freshman at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU and is concentrating in Cellular Neuroscience. She hopes to attend medical school after graduation and go on to work in hospitals or one day open her own practice. Her interests include dancing, reading, playing video games, listening to music, and volunteering. Her involvement in FAU Thrive means helping students, getting rid of negative stereotypes around mental health, and creating a safe community for students.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Karrina Pullano

Wilkes Honors College
kpullano2019@fau.edu

Karrina Pullano is a fourth-year student at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU, concentrating in Cellular Neuroscience with a minor in Philosophy. Outside of classes, she works as a Desk Assistant in the residence halls, is a member of several student organizations, and enjoys digital art and design. Currently preparing for the MCAT, Karrina hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career as a surgeon (with specialty interests in pediatrics and neurology). She hopes her work with FAU Thrive will positively impact student awareness and access to mental health resources at the FAU Honors College, as well as prepare her for patient care and engagement as a hopeful future doctor.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Mariam Rizvi

Wilkes Honors College
mrizvi2018@fau.edu

Mariam Rizvi is a senior who recently transferred to the Wilkes Honors College of FAU, concentrating in Biological Chemistry with a minor in Data Science. She intends to pursue a degree in medicine, hopefully working as a physician-scientist in dermatology, investigating genetic mechanisms of aging. She is currently involved in the Ja Lab at Scripps where she is researching lifespan in Drosophila. Mariam is a new member of the Jupiter House of Representatives, and she hopes to serve as a voice for the student body, primarily focusing on issues of health advocacy, community involvement, and unifying the FAU campuses. Maintaining mental wellness is a topic of great concern to Mariam, and in her free time, she frequently takes walks, practices mindfulness, and journals. She hopes to empower the student body to prioritize mental health and learn methods of retaining one's personal strength through the challenges of university, work, and personal hurdles.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Jason Schwab

Wilkes Honors College
 jschwab2019@fau.edu

Jason Schwab is currently a senior at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU, concentrating in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Planning on graduating in Spring of 2023, Jason is currently applying to medical schools with the goal of matriculating in Fall of 2023. Outside of classes, he can be found playing sports with his friends or working out at the gym. Jason believes in taking care of both the mind and the body due to the interplay each part has on the other. By joining FAU Thrive, Jason hopes to spread this idea and advocate the use of exercise to strengthen and take care of the mind and body.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Anthony Tulip

Wilkes Honors College
atulip2019@fau.edu

Anthony Tulip is a fourth year student at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU studying Biology. His goal is to pursue a MD in Anesthesiology, He is also involved on campus by being a Supervisor in Campus Recreation here on the Jupiter Campus. As a part of Thrive, Anthony wishes to increase mental health awareness particularly directed toward males and wants to help bring attention to different ways to help improve both self-confidence and overall confidence in general.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Nahian Uddin

Wilkes Honors College
nuddin2022@fau.edu

Nahian Uddin is a first generation Bangladeshi-American college student, currently majoring in Cellular Neuroscience. Nahian's initial goal is to become a Physician Assistant and is currently working as a part time pharmacy technician as well as volunteering at local medical centers. During her free time she loves to spend quality time with her friends and family, travel and explore new places, and take time for herself by going to the gym. Joining FAU Thrive has helped her realize the importance of mental health awareness and she is very excited to be a part of this uplifting team.

Headshot of Dr. Laura Vernon

Fiona Vásquez

Wilkes Honors College
fvasquez2022@fau.edu

Fiona Vásquez is a freshman attending the Wilkes Honors College of FAU concentrating in Biochemistry on the Pre-Med Track. Her aspiration is to become a pediatrician, specializing in Emergency Medicine as she loves both kids and being a first responder as a recently listed National Registry Emergency Medical Technician. With her faith, Fiona believes that with hard work, and persistence, any trial can be endured through God which gives her the strength to do so. Since Fiona was little, she always loved the idea of helping others and being able to grow her understanding of medicine and have the knowledge to help serve others. In Fiona's free time, she enjoys working out at the gym or going on runs as she goes by the saying "strong mind, strong body" where one's mental health is vital and shouldn't be undermined. Through FAU Thrive, Fiona hopes to spread the importance of mental health and helping others "Thrive" at Thrive!

Thrive Faculty


Headshot of Kathryn Johnston

Kathryn L. Johnston

College of Arts and Letters FAU Thrive Representative

Kathryn L. Johnston is an Associate Professor specializing in Voice, Speech, and Accents in the Department of Theatre and Dance. When she’s not teaching, she serves as voice coach or director for productions at FAU as well as professional theatre companies in the region. Her work with her department’s students focuses on developing their authentic voices; work which inevitably helps them to know themselves better. Kathryn took the lead in crafting the “CAPS Statement” – in conjunction with her colleagues in the College of Arts and Letters – which now appears on all FAU syllabi.

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