Margaret Kramer – University of South Carolina

Margaret Kramer is a junior business and health promotion student at the University of South Carolina (USC). Before coming to college, she battled an eating disorder and witnessed firsthand how difficult it can be to recover when stigma is attached to your illness. Her experience inspired her to find a way to reduce mental health stigma and encourage others to seek treatment on her college campus and in the state of South Carolina.

As a freshman, Margaret became involved with student-run health program Changing Carolina Peer Leaders, and she was then elected Mental Health Chair. She used the role to create and lead campus-wide mental health initiatives, including stress management, suicide prevention, and eating disorder awareness. She expanded her role to include helping run the body confidence week at USC called Carolina Beautiful, which coincides with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Margaret also worked to re-establish the Active Minds chapter at USC with the help of the national nonprofit and the USC Counseling Center. It is now successfully working with dedicated students to further mental health awareness. Margaret also works with leading administrators as part of the Mental Health Council to implement programs on campus that help students in need of services. The Council has even been recognized by the JedCampus Seal for Comprehensive Mental Health Programming for their work.

Margaret is in the process of co-founding nonprofit South Carolina Coalition for Overcoming Eating Disorders (SC-COED) with local eating disorder treatment professionals. SC-COED provides resources, programs, and activities for South Carolinians impacted by eating disorders. The nonprofit is in the process of being approved as a 501(c)(3) but has already created support groups and brought in professionals to speak with the faculty of local schools in Charleston and professionals at MUSC concerning eating disorder education.

Margaret’s work on mental health initiatives on campus and in South Carolina has made her life incredibly fulfilling, and she believes it has been the most effective tool for her own recovery. She hopes her work has led to others finding hope and the resources they need to recover from their own mental health issues. But there will always be a need for more resources of support and education in the field of mental health, and Margaret intends to dedicate her life to being one of them.

JED would also like to acknowledge our two outstanding 2014 finalists:

  • Benjamin Taitz, California State University – Fullerton
  • Tiffany (TK) Truong, Unviersity of California – Los Angeles

Learn more about the award and view previous honorees.