Visit Health Watch for COVID-19 updates. Find Employee Return to Campus and Student Return to Campus information.
Emergency Notification

Mind Matters Champions honored at Cal State LA

February 24, 2020

By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service

​Cal State LA President William A. Covino and First Lady Debbie Covino celebrated outstanding contributions to well-being across the university during the third annual Mind Matters Champion awards presentation.

The three award recipients—student Jhoanna Avelino, faculty member Roberto Alcaraz Jr. and staff member Christopher Johnson—were nominated by the Cal State LA community. The awards recognize a student, faculty member and staff member for exceptional efforts to help instill a university-wide culture of caring, compassion and well-being.

“The Mind Matters Champion awards are given to faculty, staff and students who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating the importance of being a caring and compassionate community at Cal State LA,” President Covino said during the heartfelt awards presentation on Feb. 24.

The Mind Matters initiative is a nationally recognized model for promoting the inner and physical well-being of students through resources and programs dedicated to basic needs and behavioral health services. The president and the first lady launched the initiative in 2014 to help Cal State LA students achieve academic success while dealing with the pressures of university life, family responsibilities and jobs.

Avelino, a senior public health major, educates fellow students about the importance of mental and physical health through her work with the Student Health Advisory Committee, also known as SHAC. She also serves as the sexual health chair on SHAC’s executive board. In a nomination letter, Avelino was touted as “a wonderful role model in encouraging a culture of self-love and mental health as part of being a well-rounded student.”

Alcaraz, a faculty member in the College of Arts and Letters, incorporates well-being into his undergraduate and graduate acting and voice classes. He uses check-ins during each class session to help students become in tune with their emotions, deal with stress and feel safe to support both their mental health and acting skills.

Johnson, director for New Student and Parent Programs, has infused the caring and compassionate message of Mind Matters into his office’s programs for incoming students and their parents. In 2017, he incorporated a Mind Matters well-being component into the new student orientations, ensuring every new undergraduate student learned about the initiative’s services and resources.

“The Mind Matters Champions are the ones on the ground helping students have the best lives they can possibly have,” Debbie Covino said. “Today we are honoring the great work they have done for the campus.”

Photo: From left to right: President William A. Covino; Mind Matters Champions: faculty member Roberto Alcaraz Jr., student Jhoanna Avelino, and staff member Christopher Johnson; and First Lady Debbie Covino. (Credit: Tyrone D. Washington/Cal State LA)

# # #


California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit