Business Major Leads Collaborative Public Health Project

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Business major and NCAA Division II student-athlete Christopher Barrios ’23 came to Dominican University of California to be part of a team, but he never imagined he would be part of team giving presentations in partnership with a local public health community partner to address and create awareness of mental health issues and the perils of opioid drugs.

What started out as a senior project in a leadership class this fall has led Chris, a soccer player for the Penguins, to a meaningful collaboration with nursing students with an end-goal of educating classmates who may have no knowledge of the impact of opioids such a fentanyl.

“And, honestly, I was one of them,” Chris admits. “The fact I’m learning about fentanyl and now I’m getting to go out and make others aware of its dangers I realize this project has a real-world purpose. This project is not just for a grade.”

This project is an excellent example of Dominican’s interdisciplinary approach to education, which encourages collaboration across the majors. Business Administration major Chris – along with nursing majors Cassie Bottjer, Shivani Amin, and Morgan Fillipo, who all minor in business – have partnered in the project with nursing students Rachel Ellenberger and Andrew Ferguson, who are working with the Spahr Center in Corte Madera. Recently, they learned about Narcan, a nasal spray medication used for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.

Read Cassie Bottjer's Research Presentation On Fentanyl And Narcan

“The goal is for the business students to work on a project that involves planning and executing,” says project supervisor Deborah Meshel, RN, BSN, MSN who is clinical nurse instructor and professor in the School of Health and Natural Sciences.
“As part of their business project, the students will be organizing the logistics of their presentations and then prepare the content.   In addition, they will be creating infographics for social media regarding opioid overdose prevention and emergency treatment.”

The project team already gave a mental health presentation to residence students at Pennafort Hall. On November 10, they gave a full presentation in front of the Conlan Recreation Center. They had samples of Narcan to pass out that was provided at the Spahr Center training.

“They explained what Narcan is, how it works and how – especially in college – students don’t even know what fentanyl is and how dangerous it can really be,” Chris says. “Once we got the bigger picture, we understood that this is really serious and Narcan can actually save lives.”

When Chris arrived at Dominican from San Rafael High School, he was focused on developing as a soccer player. He was recruited to the Athletics program by his club coach Dave Frank, now head coach for Dominican’s men’s soccer team.

Chris was a numbers guy and chose to enroll in the Barowsky School of Business.

“I felt majoring in business and getting a business degree provided me with the most potential for growth,” he says. “When you are young you have a wide spectrum of opportunities and I felt business was a good way to make connections and both grow as an individual and help my career.”

Inspired by a Business Communications class with Dr. Christopher Leeds, professor of management, and later by Dr. Apollo Demirel, assistant professor of marketing, Chris focused on his performance both on and off the soccer field. He been named to the Pacific West Conference All-Academic team in each of his first three seasons at Dominican.

“Someone once told me that the way you do one thing well is the way you do everything well so do everything well,” Chris says. “I realized if I do well in school, I will do better on the soccer field. I told myself I needed to challenge myself.”

Chris also credits the soccer environment at Dominican for helping him succeed. With the support of friends and teammates such as Louie Galdamez, Chris says “it pushed me to limits that I wouldn’t have even thought I could push myself.”

It pushed Chris and his team to the top of the PacWest soccer standings this fall as conference co-champions and also pushed him to do positive things away from the field. He had an internship with Dodge & Cox Investing through 10,000 Degrees and now is he invested in bringing awareness to campus about mental health and opioid drug use, including the worsening crisis of rainbow fentanyl.

“Chris is an excellent, attentive, academic student.  He works well collaborating with his fellow student partners,” Meshel says. “He has a busy schedule, working around competitive soccer, but is eager to engage in the project.  I am looking forward to his presentations as this education is very important to relay to college age students to prevent overdose and possible death.”

Chris is up for the challenge. His presentation about mental health, opioid overdose, and Narcan comes with a message.

“Just be aware of the decisions you are making, especially in college. There is a lot going on every decision you make could take a turn for the best or for the worse,” Chris says. “Just be cautious and aware of the decisions you are making because every decision has an intention.”

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