Yuliia Zhukovets, Contributing Photographer

The Good Life Center will continue to offer students stress-management strategies and quiet spaces to unwind in a new larger location on the second floor of the Schwarzman Center. 

The new space, which opened on Oct. 25, will allow the Center to expand beyond its original Silliman College location, which will remain open. The new location will carry out the student wellness center’s mission of improving wellbeing by providing space for meditation, rest and gratitude. 

“I love that we’re able to have a prominent space on campus that’s really focused on students protecting their own mental health — that gives students access to free services and practices that we know based on research are scientifically known to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression,” Head of Silliman College and Good Life Center founder Laurie Santos wrote in an email to the News. 

Santos added that spaces like the Good Life Center, alongside increased funding for Yale’s Mental Health and Counseling department, will help the University better serve students by enabling them to “flourish emotionally as well as academically.” 

Santos founded the Good Life Center in September 2018 in its original space — located on the fourth floor of Byers Hall in Silliman College. Although the Silliman location will remain open, much of the Good Life Center programming will be shifted to the new Schwarzman space.

The expanded Good Life Center is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Good Life Center programming scheduled during those hours will be held in the Schwarzman Center space, while programming that occurs after 5 p.m. or on weekends will be held in the Silliman space. Alexa Vaghenas, who manages Good Life Center programming and helped oversee the expansion, said that the Center hopes to expand hours of operation at Schwarzman in the future. 

“The Good Life Center at Schwarzman is a great example of the Schwarzman Center’s core purpose of convening people across schools, disciplines, and communities, to promote collaboration, wellness, and belonging,” executive director of the Schwarzman Center Garth Ross wrote in an email to the News. “I’m grateful we’re able to work in partnership with Dr. Laurie Santos, Alexa Vaghenas, and the Good Life Center community to build on the success of the Good Life Center at Silliman in a space designed to engage and support all of Yale.”

The new space features several lounge areas, a “Gratitude Room” filled with activities intended to help students express thanks and a dedicated “Nap Room” complete with bean bag chairs, ear plugs and eye masks. The space will also host wellbeing programming, including classes about mental and physical education.

According to Vaghenas, the expansion was motivated in part by accessibility concerns from graduate and professional students. Students without keycard access to Silliman — such as those who attend the graduate and professional schools — need to obtain temporary gate access or use the intercom to enter the original Good Life Center space. 

“Accessibility to all people on campus is a core component of our mission, so we’re grateful to be opening up a location in the Schwarzman Center that is accessible to all students,” Vaghenas told the News. 

Vaghenas’ central focus in designing the expanded Good Life Center was replicating elements that worked in the original space while remaining open to possibilities for change in the Schwarzman Center. Vaghenas told the News that she took inspiration from the natural light in the new space, incorporating greenery and ambient soundscapes that replicate natural settings. 

For Iris Li ’24, the expansion of the Good Life Center physically emphasizes the importance of prioritizing student wellbeing. 

“I like to use the Good Life Center as a space of recentering,” Li said. “I think the dedication of quiet study rooms and nap rooms near each other encourage Yale students to combat ideas of being well-rested and succeeding academically as mutually exclusive. They shouldn’t be!”

Li routinely uses the Silliman location of the Good Life Center as both a study spot and a place to relax from everyday campus life. 

Shruti Parthasarathy ’24 told the News that the Good Life Center expansion is exciting not only because it makes student wellness more accessible, but also because it contributes to the destigmatization of mental health care at Yale. 

“I think it is imperative to have places on campus such as the Good Life Center because it helps embody a larger movement of destigmatizing mental health and creates a safe environment for people to explore their mind-body connection and ultimately enhance their state of being,” Parthasarathy said.

The Schwarzman Center is located at 168 Grove St. 

LUCY HODGMAN
Lucy Hodgman covers Student Life. She previously covered the Yale College Council for the News. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, she is a sophomore in Grace Hopper majoring in English.