Chaffey Students Address Mental Health, Homelessness in SolveCC Competition
December 8, 2023
The mental health struggles that Vaishali Mehta saw her mother face inspired her to pursue a career path in psychiatry. The Chaffey College student has already started to help others through a research project focused on the mental wellbeing of students.
She and 13 other students participated in a new competition in November called Solve Community Challenges, or SolveCC. It’s a state program that challenges community college students to identify problems affecting their communities, and later develop solutions.
A panel of Chaffey and community leaders judged the teams’ research findings and awarded thousands of dollars in prizes for the top projects.
“Giving Chaffey students this opportunity is amazing,” Mehta said. “It strengthens critical thinking and teamwork.”
Mehta and her teammate, Isaac Manzo, focused on the impact of online learning and general isolation brought on by the pandemic. They surveyed students, finding that 24 percent continue to feel isolated even in a post-pandemic world.
Other projects focused on the need for better public transportation, access to filtered water, homelessness and more.
Chaffey College Superintendent/President Henry D. Shannon called SolveCC one example of how Chaffey gives students a chance to engage in hands-on learning, generate ideas and gain critical skills.
“These winning teams showcased the power of collaborative problem-solving and leadership to make significant changes in the world around them," Shannon said.
Kelli Lindstrom, a Chaffey dual enrollment student who is a junior at Chaffey High School, identified chronic absenteeism related to mental health as a problem in her community. She told panelists that she missed many days of school due to bullying, but if a system had been in place to flag her missed days, counselors probably could have reached her sooner.
Lindstrom found out about SolveCC through the Chaffey website and immediately thought about the struggles she had faced.
“I hope it will bring awareness to more people and schools,” she said.
She plans to take more classes at Chaffey after graduating high school, transfer to University of California Riverside and pursue a career in speech and language therapy.
Student projects were awarded as follows:
$2000 winners -
Team Ameliorate: Vaishali Mehta and Isaac Manzo for “Project: Isolation Among Chaffey College Communities and the Mental Health Implications”
Team Pugnacious Problem Solvers: Grace and Kelli Lindstrom for “Project: Solving the Problem of Chronic Absenteeism in Our Community
Team Inventor’s Club: Kelechi Duru and Tristan Granados for “Project: Solving Food Waste Crisis”
$500 winners –
Team Orange: Diego Santos and Julia Garcia for “Project: Bussin’ is not easy
Team Filtration Station: Josue Aguilar and Debanhi Magana for “Project: The Need for Filtered Water”
Team Problem Z: Zijun Zhao, Ming Xia and Daisy Meng for “Project: Homeless Mental Health Issue”