Alumni Spotlight: Allison Chan

AllisonAllison Chan, BSN, RN graduated from Galileo Academy of Science and Technology High School in San Francisco and got to know us through our PHIRE (Peer Health Insurance Rights Education) program that trained students to tell their communities about the importance of health insurance coverage. She completed her BSN at Samuel Merritt University and is currently a registered nurse at Sutter Health.

Allison joined our Youth Board to help us bring together students who take advantage of peer health education leadership opportunities offered at many school-based health centers. She has helped us plan youth conferences and gives us insight into how school-based health centers can help students to consider a future career in health care.

What did you like the most about your school-based health center?

My Wellness Center* provided students with a lot of resources. They held a lot of workshops, including how to eat healthier foods. On Valentine’s Day they raised awareness about relationship abuse and talked about how to have a healthy relationship. There was also counseling; you could talk to any staff member in private if something was worrying you. It felt like a safe place; a lot of people spent their lunch break there. It also introduced me to PHIRE (Peer Insurance Health Rights Education), which I enjoyed being a part of.

How did your school-based health center impact your education? Did you see an impact on your peers’ education?

The Wellness Center introduced me to the PHIRE project, which required us to give classroom presentations that helped me and my peers build public speaking and presentation skills. It felt good to spread awareness and teach others about health care and why it matters. It also gave me self-confidence, which is important when you’re in school. I think the Wellness Center was a big support system for other students because they had a place to go to when they felt overwhelmed and needed someone to talk to.

Did the school-based health center spark your interest in nursing and health care?

I’ve always had an interest in nursing since I was young, and the Wellness Center definitely nurtured that interest.

How did you hear about our Youth Board and why did you want to join?

I heard about the California School-Based Health Alliance’s Youth Board Program through PHIRE. I was looking for extracurricular activities to get involved in so I did some research and decided to give it a try since I hadn’t done anything like it before. I like the overall mission because my school had a health center and I saw how much it helped the people around me.

What have you learned through your participation?

I have learned about all the policy work that the California School-Based Health Alliance is doing to support funding school-based health centers. I’ve learned how to facilitate workshops and have become more aware of our public health system.  I’ve been able to incorporate this into my own studies.

What advice do you have for school-based health centers that want to get youth more involved?

Offering workshops at school on issues students care about is a good way to get students to participate. Students see these workshops as an opportunity to learn and are more inclined to join when there are a lot more students involved.

Is there anything you would like to add that you want school-based health centers and schools to know?

I don’t think people realize how important it is for school-based health centers to exist. It should be a part our educational system because it impacts how we deal with our health and how unmet health challenges can impact education. Oh, and I love being on the Youth Board!

*The school-based health centers at San Francisco Unified School District high schools are called Wellness Centers. You can check them out at