Chelsey Bucher-Hebert earns 2018 Social Justice Award

By Jessenya Guerra
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Chelsey Bucher-Hebert, winner of the 2018 Social Justice Award.

Chelsey Bucher-Hebert is being recognized for her outstanding contributions to social justice at both CSUMB and for the Monterey community at large. CSUMB’s Outstanding Senior Award for Social Justice recognizes one student every academic year for their significant dedication to promoting equity for communities affected by drug use.

The Outstanding Senior Award for Social Justice is awarded to a student who: Coordinated or participated in a project with the objective of promoting equity or social justice and/or generated awareness; Participated actively as a positive agent of change; Provided a service that benefited and/or improved the quality of life in local or other communities; Is in good standing and not on probation of any kind; Is an undergraduate with a degree award date of Fall 2017, Spring 2018, or Summer 2018.

Bucher-Hebert volunteers at a local non profit organization called Harm Reduction Coalition. “Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that works to promote the health and dignity of individuals and communities who are impacted by drug use,” according to the coalition’s mission statement.

Butcher-Hebert’s contributions on campus have also earned her this prestigious award by founding the Students for Sensible Drug Policy club. The club not only helps students to reduce the stigma behind drug use in the community, but can also be a great resource for those struggling with drug abuse to get helpful and positive information.

Along with these outstanding accomplishments, Butcher-Hebert has been working with researchers around the nation to assess the needs of syringe exchange programs in highly populated cities. These programs aim to help those who are administering intravenous substances to have access to unused syringes.

“Social justice, for me, is standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves,” said Butcher-Hebert. Butcher-Hebert was nominated my Dr. Christine Valdez for the Social Justice Award, “I have been working with Dr. Valdez in a trauma psychology lab for over a year now and I am doing a study with psychophysiological data in regards to trauma research in her lab. She nominated me because she had also heard about my internship through the Harm Reduction Coalition and that I had started Students for Sensible Drug Policy.”

“Currently I will be finishing up the Harm Reduction Coalition internship and the report I am working on will be published to help all of California with all syringe exchange programs. This will help build capacity and ensure that there is service for all those that are need.” continued Butcher-Hebert.

Looking into social justice after CSUMB Butcher-Hebert said, “I have looked into a couple different jobs, one was in San Francisco doing outreach to at risk youth. So it would entitle going into the tenderloin in the city and assessing where they are in terms of drug use. If they are using drugs then we would get them to knowledge about the services that are available.”

“The main issue at the moment is intravenous (IV) administered drugs, and the usage of needles. So if they haven’t moved to that form of drug use, but could we would be filling them in to where the services are available for them in regards to clean and unused needles.”

“My real interest is studying substances that are seen as party substances such as; ecstasy, cocaine and what are commonly known as ‘club drugs’. I actually just came in contact with a researcher in New York City (NYC) who is looking at recreational drug use in NYC nightlife. Hopefully I will hear back from him and begin research on that.”

“To me it’s more of trying to inform the country that there is a gap in our drug policy and education and that harm reduction can really help to fill that.”

Butcher-Hebert thanks the following people for all of their help in receiving this award. “First of all a thank you to my close friend Andrew Spellman for igniting my interest in studying substances, without him I would have never found my niche. Dr. Christine Valdez, the UROC program, my parents, my best friend Tala Davis, the Harm Reduction Coalition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, my very supportive boyfriend Taylor Williams, and finally Sage my dog for being a happy face when I come home.”

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