SOPHIA GOURLEY ’19
The Trinity Tripod spoke with Trinity’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Specialist, Emily Pagano, about her role in our community and the different services she provides.
Trinity Tripod: How would you describe your role on campus?
Emily Pagano: I’m the Alcohol & Other Drug Specialist on campus. My job is to coordinate preventative education, provide direct support to students struggling with substance use, and foster a campus environment that reduces harms associated with alcohol and other drugs. Ultimately, my role is to promote student wellness, with a particular focus on substance use.
TT: What is your interest in this field and what brought you to Trinity?
EP: I’ve found that there’s a lot of silence around the realities of alcohol and other drug use. Substance Use Disorders are extremely common—yet there continues to be a huge treatment gap. The vast majority of people who struggle with substances never access support services. I deeply believe that every student deserves the opportunity to thrive in college; that includes students who may benefit from support in navigating alcohol and other drugs. I came to Trinity because there’s a community of staff and faculty who are committed to this type of prevention work and because I saw an opportunity to work with some really incredible students!
TT: As an Alcohol and Other Drugs Specialist, what types of services do you provide for students in the Trinity community?
EP: The Office of Health Education provides a range of support services and resources for students. We’re available for individual appointments to discuss substance use—whether you’re looking to cut back, reduce your risk, or quit altogether. We also offer educational workshops on everything from sleep to safer sex, and alcohol to marijuana. The Health Ed office additionally manages the delivery of alcohol and other drug education to new students each fall, and throughout a student’s time at Trinity. Finally, we play a role in building community on campus for substance-free students and students who identify as being in recovery. This semester, we’re launching a new student recovery network; we’ll host lunch once a month for students to gather for fellowship. For more information or to get connected to that network, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
TT: What would you say is the most important piece of information that students should know about regarding alcohol and drugs on college campuses?
EP: Substantial research has shown a discrepancy between what we perceive happens on college campuses and what actually does. The idea that almost everyone drinks or uses drugs is a pervasive myth that continues to cause harm. So many students come see me to talk about wanting to take a break from drinking or smoking, for example, and feel like they’re the only student on campus thinking about that.
TT: In your professional opinion, what are some of the most valuable life style choices students should make if they are looking to have a happy and healthy college experience?
EP: Everyone’s wellness needs look a little different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to health. That said, we know from national surveying of college students that stress and sleep are two of the health issues that most impact academic success. If you can develop good sleep hygiene and stress management strategies while in college, you’re likely to carry those habits through life! The Health Education office offers individual wellness appointments and can provide resources on both of these topics.
TT: What is the best way for students to contact you and where is your office located?
EP: I split my time between Trinity and another institution, so the fastest way to reach me is by email (Emily.Pagano@trincoll.edu). I’m typically on campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday. My office is located in the Health Center, in Wheaton Hall. I’m always happy to connect with students—to support your own wellness, talk about a friend you’re concerned about, or hear your ideas for enhancing student health at Trinity.