The Charger Blog

Psychology Major Helps Bring Cheer to Charger Nation, One Sticky Note at a Time

If you’ve ever found a bright sticky note on campus with words of encouragement, inspiration, or important information, it was probably left by Mary Lippa ’23. Her colorful notes have inspired many of her fellow Chargers, as well as the development of a new Recognized Student Organization that promotes awareness of issues such as mental health.

April 29, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Mary Lippa ’23 leaves a sticky note near the Maxcy Quad
Mary Lippa ’23 leaves a sticky note near the Maxcy Quad

When Mary Lippa ’23 was a junior in high school, she lost someone close to her. She began thinking about how she could do something to make a positive impact in her own life and on the lives of others.

Just a few days after beginning her first year at the University of New Haven, Lippa began offering support and encouragement to her fellow Chargers in the form of sticky notes she posted around campus. Her cheerful, brightly colored notes have offered words of encouragement for members of the University community ever since.

“My intention was to make even just one person smile,” said Lippa, a psychology major with a concentration in forensic psychology and a minor in race and ethnic studies. “Now, I hope to show people that they are not alone, that there is someone who cares about them, and that there’s hope.”

Mary Lippa ’23 hopes her sticky notes will make her fellow Chargers smile.
Mary Lippa ’23 hopes her sticky notes will make her fellow Chargers smile.
‘Something small that keeps people going’

Many of Lippa’s messages are quotes about topics such as mental health and LGBTQ+ rights. She also creates notes with affirmations – including messages such as “you are doing great,” “you are beautiful,” and “you are loved.” She also leaves notes with important information about resources on campus, including phone numbers.

Lippa likes to use yellow sticky notes, since her messages show up well and the notes are easy to read. She then adds colorful touches – perhaps hearts or small drawings relevant to the message – to make them even more eye catching.

“I want to bring the message together in a theme, of sorts,” said Lippa, who received one of the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Vision Awards earlier this year. “I want the notes to be pretty and easy to look at but also provide an important message.”

When she first started leaving the notes on campus, she experimented with where to put them. While she does sometimes leave them inside, she often sticks them outside on lamp posts, benches, and outdoor table umbrellas, careful to make sure they won’t interfere with the work of Facilities staff members. Chargers walking through the Bixler, Maxcy, and Celentano Quads are also likely to find Lippa’s notes. During her time as a Charger, she estimates she’s left at least a few hundred around campus.

“Even if it comes in the form of a sticky note, I hope it’s something small that keeps people going,” said Lippa, a member of the JEDI Student Ambassadors program. “I hope it is something that is helpful to them if they’re having a rough day. One of my friends found one of the notes and he put it in his wallet. He had it in there for a while. I know it means a lot to students, and my intention is just to give them hope, to make them smile.”

Mary Lippa ’23 has left hundreds of cheerful sticky notes around campus.
Mary Lippa ’23 has left hundreds of cheerful sticky notes around campus.
‘No one at the University is alone’

As the notes gained traction across campus, Lippa wanted to give students a space to reach out. Endeavoring to take her mission one step further, she created HappyUNewHaven, a Recognized Student Organization (RSO) that meets weekly to foster student engagement and promote awareness and education on issues such as mental health. The organization’s Instagram account has nearly 1,000 followers, and HappyUNewHaven’s executive board has nearly always been full.

“We try to be engaged with other RSOs because I believe mental health intersects with a lot of topics,” she said. “Looking forward, I want to be even more engaged. It is meaningful for me that we are an RSO and that we can engage with others. People are very interested. When we have tables set up on campus, people come up and talk to us, and that’s really nice.”

A devoted ally for the LGBTQ+ community, a wellness peer educator, and a wellness liaison for the Undergraduate Student Government Association, Lippa has recently shifted her focus in psychology to advocacy and understanding mental illness – from a social and community lens, in particular. She applies what she has learned in the classroom and through her research to the RSO’s work, and she hopes to continue to get her fellow Chargers involved.

“My own experience as a psychology major has helped me make sure HappyUNewHaven discusses important topics backed by research,” she said. “I want everyone to know that no one at the University is alone. They can reach out to us. We will help them to the best of our ability.”

Mary Lippa’s bright sticky notes can be found across campus.
Mary Lippa’s bright sticky notes can be found across campus.