California Higher Education Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Conference

Awards & Recognition

Carlos Carrio receives his awardPeer Education Advisor Award

Gary Rodriguez
California State University, Monterey Bay

The California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) POWER Peer Education program is composed of exuberant students with a vigor for providing peers with the resources and harm-reduction tools necessary to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Peer educators are taught about alcohol/drug safety, effects of substances on motor skills and decision making, and intervention techniques for dangerous situations. Peer educators then share their learned knowledge with peers through programs/presentations, events, and informational tables on campus and in classrooms. The faculty member responsible for leading this influential program is Gary Rodriguez, the Health Promotion and Prevention Specialist for Health and Wellness Services.

Gary possesses a non-judgmental mind, and arrives to each brainstorming session ready to listen and transform every outrageous and unfathomable idea into a successful and exciting event. When peer educators share their thought with Gary, they know that he will be understand and accepting of their perspective and supportive in turning their ideas for campus improvement into realities. 

This past school year Gary has supervised multiple programs centered around harm reduction for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. In collaboration with the peer educators, Gray has been able to provide evidence-based health education to a large portion of the CSUMB student population. Between outdoor tabling and in class presentations/discussions he has provided students with the resources required to make healthy lifestyle choices. Each semester, Gary and the Peer Educators have gone into multiple classrooms to talk about alcohol safety, harm reduction, and what to do if alcohol poisoning is suspected. Gary supports The Great American Smoke Out and with help from the Peer Educators handed out over one hundred quit-kits last semester which contained tools to reduce cigarette smoking within the student population. Gary also hosts an alcohol screening event bi-annually that provides students with the opportunity to determine if their drinking habits and healthy. Additionally, he provides confidential support to those students who wish to discuss their screening results at the event.

Gary is charismatic and especially energetic after a great cup of coffee. His personality is relatable and humbling, and he leads the POWER Peer Educators not as a faculty member, but as a friend and mentor. Gary provides a supportive atmosphere which enables the peer educators to come to him with they themselves need assistance, resources, and/or advice. He is continuously encouraging students to step into their community with a positive attitude, and a will to improve the CSUMB community. Gary Rodriguez is the perfect candidate for the Peer Education Advisor Award because he is a champion for encouraging and fabricating positive change within the CSUMB community. Gary demonstrates that the only tools students need to create a positive impact are a ceaseless smile, a non-judgmental attitude, and a zeal for improving the lives of all people.

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