After taking a hiatus of sorts from blogging/writing/using my brain in general since the semester ended, I’m finally taking time to reflect on my junior year of college, right before which I created this blog.
Overall, I think my junior year of undergrad was quite possibly my most rewarding of my years in college thus far. I had numerous incredibly interesting classes such as Minority Groups, Sexuality and Society, Constructing Health, Classical Social Theory, and Communication Studies Research Methods. Not only was my time in the classroom interesting and worth-while, but so was my time outside of the classroom. As I’ve discussed on my other forms of social media, I had the privilege of interning at Rowan’s Healthy Campus Initiatives, an organization on campus that focuses on mental health, body image, drug/alcohol education, sexual violence prevention, sexual health education, and stress management. In the fall, I focuses primarily on sexual health education, and though I did co-facilitate some events regarding healthy relationships in the spring, a lot of my time as a HCI intern was dedicated to sexual violence prevention.
In April, HCI hosted Take Back the Night, an open-mic and solidarity event for survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence. The event itself was truly incredible, mostly because many individuals chose to speak about their own experiences regarding the topic. I think the fact that so many Rowan students came to the event to show their support was awe-inspiring.
Prior to Take Back the Night, I organized what we named “Supporting Survivors,” or “Survivor Love Letters,” in which I asked students around campus to write positive messages/inspirational quotes on notecards for sexual violence survivors. These notecards were hung on the windows of the Wellness Center (HCI’s home) for the entire university and passersby to see. Seeing my work cover huge spans of windows and seeing individuals stop to read the notes truly was so rewarding.
My junior year was not only filled with incredible internship experiences, but also consisted of instances in which I began figuring out what I want to do with my future after graduating in May 2018. Though I don’t know exactly where I want to go or what I want to study, I know that I want to continue my education and go to graduate school. Hopefully I will, one day, be able to be a professor at a university, or work on-campus in outreach programs, and do similar work to what I’ve done over the last year.
Though it is only June, I am excited to see what my senior year will bring.
(Yes, I’m actually thinking about school. I am a huge nerd and I accept it.)
I wrote an article for Rowan’s March issue of Student Health 101 about yoga. The article can be viewed here.
“The light in me recognizes and honors the light in each and every one of you,” the yoga instructor says from the front of the room. Her smile indicates that class has concluded. “Namaste.”
The members of the class rise peacefully from their mats, being packing up, and then brace the doorway for the rest of their day, evening, or night. With them they take a relaxed mind and body from participating in yoga’s practice. Everyday life can be stressful, especially while in college. Academics, social life, homework, jobs, internships, and other responsibilities are all aspects of undergraduate and graduate lifestyle and all are equally difficult to balance. However, when an individual does make the time to care for themselves physically and mentally, such as going to a weekly yoga class, there are abundance of benefits that reach far beyond the yoga mat.
Harvard Medical School discusses yoga’s purpose – challenging oneself physically, but not to an overwhelming degree. At this “edge,” the focus of the practice is one’s breath while keeping the mind accepting and calm. This yoga mindset influences an individual’s inner awareness. This inner awareness promotes attention to the body’s abilities at the present moment of practice, focusing more on breath and strength of the mind and body more so than focusing on physical appearance. The Yoga Health Foundation Organization notes that inner peace is a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of many people’s daily lives, stressing the importance of taking the time to allow oneself to connect and relax their body and their mind.
Moreover, there are numerous physical benefits to yoga as well. American Osteopathic Association notes that these physical benefits include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, and cardio and circulatory health. The Association also explains that “the relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga class can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome.” Regardless of where an individual decides to practice yoga, whether it’s in their dorm or bedroom or the on-campus recreation center, they will benefit from both mental and physical aspects of the practice.
Practicing yoga soothes tension and anxiety within the mind and body, which ultimately helps bring calmness and mindfulness into every day life – fully allowing an individual to be present in the moment. The techniques learned during yoga classes can be utilized during every day occurrences, such as mindful breathing before an important exam or job interview or starting off the day with a few sun salutations. Once an individual begins to implement these techniques into their everyday lives, they will begin to notice the importance of exploring their limits instead of striving for perfection while getting in tune with their body and their inner self.
Here are some other great articles about yoga:
Everyday Feminism – What’s so feminist about yoga?
Everyday Feminism – Yoga, cultural appropriation, and why it matters
I wrote an article for Rowan’s December issue of Student Health 101 about Planned Parenthood’s new period-tracking app, “Spot On.” This article can be read here.
Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services around the country and globally, launched a new app called Spot On. This app is a free and easy way for users to track their menstrual cycle, birth control methods, and sexual health. Spot On allows users to track not only their day-to-day moods and symptoms, but also view these attributes on a larger scale from month-to-month.
“At Planned Parenthood, we understand that your period is a normal – if not always welcome – part of life, and we hear pretty much every question in the book about periods and birth control,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Chief Medical Officer Dr. Regan McDonald-Mosely said in a statement (Planned Parenthood, 2016). “This led us to create a resource to help every person understand their own unique cycle and body. We’re thrilled to introduce the Spot On app, and hope it empowers users to take control of their period, their birth control, and their overall sexual health.”
According to Planned Parenthood (2016, March 29), Spot On offers fun ways to track changes in users’ moods and body, and includes activities to create a personalized experience that helps users learn how their menstrual cycle and birth control affect their bodies. Users can enter an array of information into Spot On, ranging from symptoms such as fatigue and cramps, to moods, to daily activities such as travel, exercise, and nutrition. Planned Parenthood states that the ultimate purpose behind Spot On is to help users rule their unique cycle, instead of it ruling them.
The more frequently users track this information, the more Spot On learns about users’ cycle and can better predict when their period is supposed to arrive. Overall, Spot On allows users to decipher what symptoms are part of their menstrual cycle, what’s a birth control side effect, or what is simply their body being their body through the app’s personalized input system.
Spot On offers information, reminders, and tips about different types of birth control methods that may affect their menstrual cycles – including the pill, patch, ring, shot, IUS, and implant. This helps users stay on track and use their bir
th control accurately.
Spot On is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android.
This semester, I’m an intern at Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives and throughout the course of the semester, I can focus on whatever topic I’d like, as long as it is related to health and wellness. I decided to focus on sexual health education. Later this month, I will be having my first event, which will be an information table in Rowan’s student center. I plan on providing information about how to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs and HIV. My intention behind this information table is to provide students with accurate information about the different types of birth control, because there are other methods besides just the pill and condom, and to help them decide which method meets their personal needs.
Here is a stream of my thoughts regarding this topic:
Under this umbrella of “whichever method meets their personal needs” is the fact that not all people who have sex and want to prevent pregnancy and STIs/HIV are heterosexual. I really wanted to make sure that the information I was providing was inclusive for all sexualities and identities. The more I looked into contraception and sex education, all of the yielded results were seemingly very much hetero-centric. I realize that same-sex couples are not usually capable of getting pregnant, but even this notion also erases the identities of transgender people who are sexually active. Regardless of how an individual identifies and regardless of how that correlates with what’s below their belt, teens and young adults, especially LGBTQ+ teen and young adults need to be included in and educated about sexual health education.
I guess the problem I seem to be facing here is that it is quite difficult to provide inclusive sex education because the resources that exist for this information completely disregard LGTBQ+ identities. There should not be an undertone of heterosexuality when discussing sexual health. I think all sexual health education should include all identities, because, facing the facts, an individual can get pregnant, contract a STI or HIV, transmit a STI or HIV, regardless of their identity, sexual orientation, or who they’re having sex with.
Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, or not Google searching the correct phrases, but I’ve noticed a lack of information regarding the LGBTQ+ community and sexual health education. I hope as time goes on that sex ed is overall more inclusive and people of all identities realize that making safe and healthy decisions is incredibly important.