HomepageNewsPsychology Student Becomes Ursinus’s First SAFE Project Fellow

Psychology Student Becomes Ursinus’s First SAFE Project Fellow

Sophie Louis ’24 has always had a passion for helping others. Now, she’s putting that passion to work as the first Ursinus student to join the Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy.

Sophie Louis ’24 is an advocate for people in need. So, when Director of Prevention and Advocacy Katie Bean shared with her a list of volunteer opportunities across the country, Louis saw a chance to become a leader in a field she’s passionate about—and it led her to become the first Ursinus student to join the Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy.

In 2022, Louis earned a SAFE Project (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic) Fellowship. The organization flew her and 49 other college students from across the country to Washington, D.C., to attend their Collegiate Recovery Leadership Academy Summit last November. And this June, she’ll attend a leadership retreat. But perhaps most significantly, the fellowship allows Louis to make an impact right here in Collegeville, as all fellows are expected to bring an “Impact Project” to their respective campuses.

The criteria for an Impact Project can vary from fellow to fellow. The goal is to reduce stigma and increase availability of mental health resources.

“For some fellows, that can mean creating a group on campus for students, but we already have UCrew,” said Louis, who was a founding member of UCrew (Cultivating Respect, Education, and Wellness) in 2020. For her Impact project, she wanted to address stigma in a palpable way.

“The nonprofit has a pledge called the ‘No Shame Pledge,’” Louis said. “People sign it pledging that they understand that substance use disorder, and addiction is not someone’s fault. There’s no shame attached to it.” She is bringing the No Shame Pledge to the Ursinus campus to be signed by faculty, students, and staff. She also hopes to engage various organizations on campus, including athletics teams and Greek organizations.

Since childhood, Louis has always enjoyed helping people in need. In high school, she found an outlet for community service in Leo’s Club, a youth organization of Lion’s Club International. She became secretary, vice president, and eventually president of the organization, presaging her ambition to create positive leadership in college.

At Ursinus, the psychology major has taken every opportunity to be a force for good on campus. While balancing an honors project in biology—and minors in biology and science and the common good—Louis finds time to support multiple civically minded extracurricular activities. She’s president and founder of UC Possibilities, a student group that promotes accessibility and disability awareness. Louis especially enjoys her time with Best Buddies, an organization that pairs members with partners who have intellectual and development disabilities.

Her honors research addresses hidden or “concealable stigmatized” disabilities. Advised by Assistant Professor of Psychology Mora Reinka, Sophie wants to know if and how disclosure can help people seeking treatment. She said, “A lot of studies have looked at disclosure as an outcome variable, such as social support is likely to lead to increased disclosure.”

In the future, Sophie hopes to earn a doctoral degree in occupational therapy, a branch of healthcare that helps sick, injured, or disabled patients gain mobility to perform everyday tasks. “I really like how occupational therapists are able to make a tangible difference in the lives of others,” she said, noting that she hopes to bring her research in hidden disabilities to her professional career.

“You really get to treat [patients] you really get to help them along [in their recovery],” Louis said. “And I really love that. That’s what I want to do.” 

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