San Marcos,
16:50 PM

Annual WGYLM Campaign Focuses on Healthcare Decisions

By David Ogul

The numbers can be depressing.

Barely one in four Americans has crafted an advanced directive detailing what actions should or should not be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make a decision for themselves. Perhaps even more alarming, less than 11 percent of college students have written an advanced directive.

That’s why this spring’s “What Gives Your Life Meaning? (And Who Needs to Know?)” series of events from April 3-19 – sponsored by the California State University Institute for Palliative Care

in partnership with Cal State San Marcos students and faculty – is focused on discussing the importance of aligning healthcare decisions with an individual’s values before they become incapacitated.

“Advanced directives are one way to share what is important to a person and to share what gives our lives meaning,” said Dr. Sharon Hamill, a CSUSM professor of psychology who also serves as the Institute for Palliative Care’s faculty director at CSUSM. “Advanced directives include designating a healthcare advocate and creating a living will that details what kind of medical interventions a person would want. Our goal is to get the campus community to agree to talk with even one person about what is important to them and to think about who should speak for them in the event they can’t speak for themselves.

“It’s about taking the guesswork out of what we want done.”

Madeline Rayón is convinced. A CSUSM psychology graduate student focusing on psychological studies, Rayón is working with Zakirah Hassan and Kristal Laser, two Master of Public Health interns, on the pledge drive and is also co-leading a group of student volunteers working with Hamill in organizing the events.

“As students, it’s important to remember that we are not immune to having experiences with palliative care,” Rayón said. “But just as important, this is a great opportunity to access resources and information that we can take back to the older adults in our lives, including our parents and our grandparents.”

The series of CSUSM campus-wide events includes:


Tuesday, April 3, noon to 2 p.m.

“Making our Wishes Known: Advance Directives for Faculty and Staff”

This advance directive workshop led by Hamill will help participants understand the importance of creating an advanced directive. RSVP to

Social & Behavioral Science Building, Room 3219


Thursday, April 12, noon to 1 p.m.

“Think, Talk, Document, Share: Advance Directives for Students”

Who will speak for you if you are unable? Rayón and Hamill will detail the importance of creating an advanced directive for young adults.

University Hall 100


Thursday, April 19, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“WGYLM? Resource Fair and Public Art Project”

A resource fair will include representatives from nearly two dozen agencies presenting information on palliative care and healthcare choices. A public art project will include chalk drawings on the What Gives Your Life Meaning theme.

University Student Union Arcade


Thursday, April 19, 5:30 p.m.

“The Power of Authenticity, Tenacity, and Dreaming Big”

Singer-songwriter, successful author, and cancer survivor Laura Roppé will detail how her experiences underscore the importance of grabbing life with both hands, taking chances, and living your dream.

The McMahan House


Palliative care is aimed at improving the quality of life of and supporting patients with a serious or chronic illness while also assisting families managing the stresses that a potentially deadly illness can bring. The CSU Institute for Palliative Care has had a profound impact not only in the region, but across the nation, since it was launched in 2012 through numerous initiatives that include a series of online courses for healthcare professionals, community seminars, and more.

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