In 1977, a movie, “Star Wars,” came out and introduced us to “The Force,” Luke Skywalker and a Wookie named Chewbacca. With a mixture of religion, light sabers, droids and rebels battling the evil Empire with Jedi mind tricks, “Star Wars” changed the world.
Also in 1977, the UCSB Health Education Dept. formed. Its mission: change our students’ world for the better.
Sabina White, Director of Health Education for the past 32 years, decided that college students are essential players in improving the health and quality of life in our community. In health education, these students are called peer health interns. Research has shown that peers are effective because they are trusted, share similar college life experiences, help others improve their communication and relationship skills and provide additional social support which helps students better manage stress and depression.
Students are able to be there when staff is not. They are the ones who have late night conversations with their friends. They party in Isla Vista and downtown and can intervene if things get out of hand. Our students bring their own talents, experiences and passions to effectively promote health. With 70 participating students each quarter, peer heath interns made over 46,000 contacts with students last year. Health education has trained over 8,000 UCSB students throughout the years through our ED191 classes. Peer health interns discuss drugs, sexual health, nutrition, exercise, eating disorders and wellness strategies with their peers and friends every day.

UCSB Health Education started the first alcohol program and the first eating disorder program in the UC system in 1980 and 1983. In 1984, health education started an HIV peer program and spearheaded the campus-wide A.I.D.S. Task Force.

Our department also has a professional staff of health educators: registered dietitians, an eating disorders therapist and a stress and sleep counselor. Students can make confidential appointments with our counselors if they need help for themselves or if they are concerned about a friend. These are experts with years of experience who want to support you and help you find the answers to your questions.

Why am I telling you this? I want you to take advantage of one of the best health education departments in the country. Take our classes, apply for our internships, talk with our counselors and change your world at UCSB for the better. For more health education info visit
We are partnering with the Daily Nexus to write a Q&A column on the second Thursday of every month.

Here are some examples of questions students have asked in the past: 

Q: Is it better to exercise in the morning or at night and should people eat before or after exercising?

A: There are no studies stating that one is preferable to the other. The best time to exercise is when the person is willing to do it. If you are a morning exerciser, it is best to eat a little something before embarking on a work-out. 

Q: Does drinking alcohol prevent the body from building muscle? I was reading about how it prevents the body from producing growth hormones, which then leads to a lower effect of muscle building.

A: Alcohol lowers a man’s ability to make testosterone which, of course, hampers muscle growth. If you drink infrequently the alcohol will most likely have little effect. But if consumed regularly, alcohol will inhibit muscle hypertrophy (an increase of the size of muscle cells) and strength. 

We look forward to answering more of your questions; e-mail your questions to You can become a Facebook fan (UCSB Health Education) and follow us on Twitter: UCSBHealthEd.

Finding the answers to your questions doesn’t require that you travel to some galaxy far, far away. Just ask. And may the force be with you, always.