Sharon Hamill, Ph.D.

California State University San Marcos

Sharon Hamill, Ph.D.

Sharon Hamill, Ph.D., psychology professor at CSU San Marcos, is recognized for her leadership in palliative care education and innovative approach to raising awareness about completing advance directives for health care.

As a founding faculty director of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM, Hamill created and continues to direct the What Gives Your Life Meaning (WGYLM®) annual campaign. Held over the past five years, the campaign raises awareness for students, staff and faculty to advocate for their own health care, including planning for advanced directives. The campaign features guest speakers, a resource fair, films and discussion panels, and a pledge drive to increase the number of students completing advance directives.

WGYLM® allows students to take leadership in educating the community. For example, students developed a website to support children and young adults who serve as family caregivers and lead workshops on palliative care. Other projects include the St. Francis Soup Kitchen, at which students provide weekly health education to low-income and homeless diners, and the Youth Resiliency Project in which students train high school peer counselors and young caregivers in resiliency skills.

WGYLM® is now trademarked and is serving as a model for palliative care education for other institutions, including the University of California, San Diego hospital system. The campaign has been picked up by PBS, and other CSU campuses have also used Hamill's materials as a model for palliative care instruction and awareness.

“Dr. Hamill's genuine interest for the students and community on our campus truly shows through her ways of empathizing with the campus population," says Ivette Villagomez, student assistant at the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM.