Ana Alcantar’s light continues to shine.
The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning is honoring the late Fresno State student through a sunflower pin. The pins were distributed at the Richter Center’s end of the year banquet.
“Whenever I picture a sunflower, I picture a sun, and when I picture the sun, I picture light, and light brings a lot of positive energy. That’s who she was as a person,” said Anyssa Molina, Alcantar’s best friend and fellow Richter Center student leader.
Alcantar died in January of suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists suicide as the No. 2-leading cause of death among those between the ages of 10 and 24.
Alcantar was heavily involved in a number of groups on campus. She was a prominent member of the Richter Center, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA).
At the vigil honoring Alcantar, her superiors praised her attitude and work ethic.
“It was Ana’s genuine passion to do good unto others that was absolutely remarkable,” said Erika Denise Castañon, former Richter Center student leader and Fresno State alumna. “She embodied that passion in her kind smile; her calm and reassuring voice; and how she made everyone feel like they had a place.”
It is that aspect of Alcantar that the pin aims to honor – her selflessness, her captivating smile and her influence on others. It also helped that Alcantar loved sunflowers, Molina said.
She added that the idea for the sunflower originated with T-shirts made by a group of Alcantar’s closest friends with Alcantar’s face surrounded by sunflowers. Those shirts were distributed by Richter Center and HBSA members.
But Alcantar’s impact goes beyond a set of shirts and pins. Her passing helped bring together groups on campus to help each other mourn, Molina said.
“EOP, and HBSA and the Richter Center, they were the main organizations that really impacted everything,” Molina said. “They were really there, and they were strong organizations.”
Molina credits these organizations and the rest of her support group for helping her through her grieving process. She said that although there is still healing left for her to do, she has progressed well since Ana’s passing.
“I think if I didn’t have those key features, I don’t know what I would be able to say to you today,” she said. “I’m doing OK, and I have Fresno State to thank for that.”
Fresno State has taken a number of steps to make mental health a focal point on campus. Recently, Associated Students, Inc. voted to include mental health resources in class syllabuses for the fall 2018 semester.
In April, Fresno State’s Health and Counseling Center participated in Mental Health Screening Day, which provided students with free and anonymous mental health screenings. The event was part of the monthlong “Press Pause” campaign, which encouraged students to acknowledge and take care of their mental health and practice self-care.
“Fresno State has great programs. I think where it starts first is students just going and being proactive to everything,” Molina said. “I just encourage students to be more proactive and want to learn about [mental health].”
Molina also hopes campus members employ a loving mentality toward one another in honor of Alcantar. A mentality similar to the one Alcantar had on a daily basis.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 24-hour services all week long at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Contact the Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center at 559-278-2734 from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.