Rita O’Neil outside the Student Health Center. COURTESY OF NESTOR GAMA

New SHWS director to bring big changes

Rita O’Neill, recently hired director of the Student Health & Wellness Services, said she comes with fresh ideas for change.

Rita O’Neil outside the Student Health Center. (Courtesy of Nestor Gama)

O’Neill is only in her first month on the job and before making any big changes, she said she wants to make sure she gets a good understanding of the operation first. 

She said she intends to integrate and improve services at the Student Health & Wellness Center.

The center provides a variety of services for students in an affordable and accessible manner. 

O’Neill said she is excited to introduce “The Health Hut,” a mini gazebo that will move from one location to others on campus. 

The hut will hold giveaways of items such as water bottles and hygiene products, as well as provide informational Q&As (questions and answers).

The idea is to show what is done at the health and wellness center and make the information more accessible by moving to different locations on campus.

Because she started as an attorney, O’Neill said she didn’t see herself going into the health and wellness field right away. 

She thought she would become a legal advisor.

However, when she started consulting, she said she fell in love with the idea of combining her law profession with helping her community in their pursuit to living a healthy life. 

She got a job at Kaiser Permanente and worked there for about a decade. From there, she moved onto a job at the University of Southern California’s medical center. 

Soon after, she went back to school to receive her master’s degree in healthcare. 

Cal Poly Pomona was the perfect place for O’Neill to continue her career because she grew up around the area and said it was nice to be back.

“It’s exciting to see how this role plays an integral part in the university,” O’Neill said. “It’s about combining all of these ideas to create a safety net.”

A couple of O’Neill’s colleagues are also very excited to be working with her and see what fresh ideas she comes up with. 

“I think she’s going to do a great job and I’m really looking forward to working with her,” said Anna Lire, assistant director of the health center.

“I think Rita is an excellent addition,” said Kenya Rampersant, senior coordinator of health promotion. “I believe she has great ideas and a great vision that will help us in pushing forward to achieve vision in student health and wellness for the university.”

Overall, O’Neill said she is in the exact position she’s always wanted to be in, which will aid in her mission to promote health and wellness on campus. 

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