Every Hoo Has a Story: Help Wanted

May 2, 2023 By Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu

The Uber driver might have been clairvoyant.

New Yorker Stephanie Ricker was a high schooler traveling to the Grounds of the University of Virginia on a spur-of-the-moment change of plans. She’d been focused on D.C.-area colleges, but after hearing about UVA, convinced her mom to detour south.

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And on an Uber ride to Grounds, the driver turned to her and said, “You belong here. You’re going to go here.”

He was right. But what he couldn’t predict was the sudden struggle she’d have to address four years later.

In Charlottesville, Ricker threw herself into all things UVA. She was a cheerleader. She joined clubs, including an a cappella group. She poured herself into her history classes. It seemed like everything was going great. Until it wasn’t.

“I’ve always struggled with my mental health,” she said.

Sitting on the Lawn with UVA Today, randomly coaxed into a director’s chair for an interview, Ricker said she wanted to share her story.

Ricker was one of several fourth-year students whom UVA Today met on a sunny April day for a project borrowed from the CBS News series, “Everybody Has a Story.” In the series, reporter Steve Hartman sought out random people in America to tell their stories. For our purposes, we confined it to random people we met on the Lawn.

Ricker told us that last year, as autumn turned the Lawn leaves orange and yellow, she knew she needed help.

“I have got to talk to somebody,” she said.

Ricker said she wants to be a voice for others, to let them know the importance of asking for help when they need it. Because she did, she’s getting ready to walk the Lawn for Final Exercises, proving that Uber driver correct. She did belong here.

“I’ve been trying to be open about my own struggles,” she said, “so hopefully I can inspire someone else who is struggling to get help and to take care of themselves.”

If you are struggling, you can call or text 988 for help if your phone has a Virginia area code. For all others, call 703-753-5263. UVA students can also reach out for help on Grounds.

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications