The Torment of Writing

I wrote this for my school’s blog,( that I am still managing as a temp) and thought it’d be a relevant reblog

Student Life

Op-Ed on The Michigan Daily  This is an Op-Ed I wrote for the Michigan Daily that recently got published. I think the best way to describe it is “Oh she went there”.

As a collective whole, we have all decided that graduation is a time for people to look back on their lives up to this point and their time in school. I’m not arguing against it, but I also am conscious of the fact that endings are usually beginnings, and that most work is an ongoing process that is never done except for when it’s done. (like, ~death~, which- yikes!)  So I thought that this blog would be an appropriate place  to talk about a few things from my time at the School of Public Health.  I have gotten a specialization in Health Communication, worked  for the Media and Communications Office, written for the SPH student blog, written for the PHAST…

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I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away and die out of their bodies (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

March 15th.–I pray that in one year more I may find some way of escaping from this unblest Custom House; for it is a very grievous thraldom. I do detest all offices,–all, at least, that…

Source: I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away and die out of their bodies (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

the learning process- discomfort & challenge

Having teachers as parents or parents who are teachers has made me a lifelong student. this is something that I have used in more than one of my college application essays or pieces that I have written to join clubs or organizations. And it’s true. The one thing that my parents did not seem to shake me out of, despite their best efforts, is my desire to hold on to a concrete view of the world, to relentlessly hold on to things as I see them.

Now, some beliefs-like my belief that there is a lot of injustice and terrible treatment present in the world at large- have largely been grounded in evidence and general consensus by the sensible powers that be. Whether that be scholars or policy makers or my teachers or my educated peers. The problem with my desire to hold on to my own viewpoint is that I’ve fallen prey to political rhetoric or cultural rhetoric more than I care to admit. And while mental self flagellation is one of my favorite hobbies (I blame depression and Catholicism on that account) it’s true that I often do not dig deeper in my mistaken beliefs about the world, unless it’s more directly connected to my day to day life. I think I’m not alone in this. I want to be involved in the process that creates health policy in this country. i want to improve individuals’ health through the organizations I work with- either by direct health interventions or through work within the government or both. This means I am on a steep learning curve. There are peers of mine ( @wryan is always my go to- go listen to him he thinks smart things about politics) who have been educated about policy in their schooling, or by virtue of their jobs, for far longer than I have been. What exactly does this have to do with world view and learning? Well I have a tendency to open my big mouth more frequently than is probably necessary in a given setting, and if I have no clue what I’m talking about, or simply repeating inaccurate political rhetoric, then there I am, a complete jackass in comparison to those around me.

(This happens in grad school constantly btw- you are in a room where you are all supposed to be learning, but there’s already people who know more than you do, right off the bat, that have had more learning opportunities than you have, and have no problem making sure you know that they know, so then you feel dumb, even if you’re all supposed to be learning.)

From what I can gather the policy environment is a large game of grad school- you want to be the savviest and smartest person in the room. And when you open your mouth you better know what you’re talking about.

My learning style is essentially trial by fire- I will continue to talk until you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about or you tell me to hush. And that can be an extremely uncomfortable way to learn, and especially in a classroom with  political science professors. I have no problem with being wrong, but the ostracizing feeling of being “the dumb one” in class is something I’ve always been afraid of.  But if I can make it through the discomfort I had when learning about my privilege and the prejudices inherent in my feminism and view of individuals who suffer from the -isms, I have to believe I can unlearn the rhetoric I have learned surrounding politics and political parties.

cross your fingers for me.

Can I get a Masters in the Internet?

I wrote one of my first pieces on the student blog in a few months- feeling inspired by all of the new bloggers!! 🙂

Student Life

As a second year, it’s crazy to consider how far that I’ve come in my journey of becoming a public health professional, specifically in my time at SPH,and even crazier to think of the time before SPH.  In those ancient days before I came to Ann Arbor and  the School of Public Health I was seriously considering a Masters in Journalism. I have always loved to write and create and share information, and I love doing those things online (and sometimes in print, because who doesn’t like to see their name printed for everyone to see?). So I applied to a Journalism program, to Umich SPH, and other far inferior schools of public health (just kidding, they were all super top notch) I was accepted in to SPH Health Behavior and Health Education program and I couldn’t have been  more thrilled. But the question still lingered, as I think it may have for many of…

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It’s been a while since I posted here so of course this is going to be a post about Gun Violence

Hi all

I had a brief stint as an editorial columnist but since I am a grad student who is not allowed to have outside projects that require time and effort /joke I did the right thing for me, and the better thing for my editor and bowed out. But here is the column I would’ve had published next in my school’s student newspaper-

tw: college shooting, gun violence

It’s very easy when you’re in school to feel protected from the outside world, to engage only in problems on an academic level and feel that the real world and its problems are very far away. While there are many things that happen out in the real world that do not happen on college campuses, gun violence is not one of them. Yesterday another campus shooting popped up on my facebook newsfeed- Tennessee State University, with one death and three injuries. Before that it was Texas Southern University and Northern Arizona University, and then the murder of 9 people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. I am distressed by the idea that these shootings are so normalized and pushed aside, with no legislation or policies introduced, with no real progress made- just like the shooting in South Carolina, and the murder of children at Newtown, and all of the countless shootings before them. Schools and universities bring us all together in a safe space to learn new things, exchange ideas and to work together peacefully as a community- gun violence does not have a place in here. If we continue to play to these strengths- searching for the truth and better solutions through hard work and problem solving- we can continue to keep ourselves safe from the tragedies that have befallen other Universities, and continue to serve as a role model for them.

As of now, the University does not allow conceal and carry guns on campus. But if the man who is suing the University to change the rule because it restricts his freedoms, we may have to deal with a new level of risk every time we step on to campus. (Source) As a public health professional and a person, this concerns me, because states (and by extension our University) with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths. (Source) But even if the gun control laws are stricter, as was astutely pointed out by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, ladders in the United States are more regulated than guns. (Source) 33,000 people die every year because of guns while 300 people died annually from ladders before the regulation.

The lack of regulation is not because Public Health professionals do not have the ability to regulate but because of systematic lobbying and blocking by the National Rifle Association (NRA). When given the opportunity and funding, Public Health professionals have made big changes against even bigger industries- successfully passing regulations to limit tobacco sale to minors and put seatbelts in cars. (source) Unfortunately, not long after the murder of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church  in Charleston, South Carolina, the House of Representative Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to allow the CDC to study underlying causes of gun violence. (Source) If the CDC were able to find the most common cause of gun violence, it would put us that much closer to effective gun laws and regulations- whether that be psychological tests or gun registration or all of the above. There are many things we can do to support the University, the CDC and Public Health researchers who are investigating gun violence.We should let the University know that the current gun policy keeps us safe and that they should also help to promote similar policies for other college campuses.

The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee should be held accountable for blocking important source of information, and that there is push back against intimidation by the NRA.  We also should demand transparency from the NRA about gun sales and background checks. (Source) For the full list of House Appropriations Committee Members click here. Anti-gun organizations- Brady campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and everytown for gun safety

P.S. A few days ago a child in Macomb County here in Michigan accidentally shot himself with his parents’ gun in a Kroger (supermarket) parking lot.

writers write- a personal and professional- perfesional? update

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Professor Howard Markel, who is the head of the History of Medicine department here at the University of Michigan and a somewhat high profile author. Needless to say I was mildly starstruck and probably talked too much. I had contacted him because all of his work is something I aspire to do someday, I want to do some sort of independent study or work with one of his projects, and also to get his advice about starting the school of public health blog/student organization in the fall.

In response to my requests, he’s going to try and see if I can help with the web encyclopedia  about the American Flu Epidemic of 1918 that he started. He gave me sound advice about starting the blog/club (don’t publish everything, obviously, and get some money), sound advice about writing and a copy of one of his books.

His advice about writing was “I hate saying this, because I know I hated hearing it when I was younger, but read and write a lot. Writers write. Read other authors, see what works what doesn’t. Find your voice and write for an audience. It’s fun writing for yourself, but writers write for other people. I’ve written for an audience of 3, and I’ve written for an audience of 3 million- and writing for 3 million is a lot more fun”

I have to agree that writing for an audience is more fun. Will I ever write for 3 million people? Who knows. I mean I write for (technically) 930 or so of you (if any of you actually read my original posts, thank you hello, you’re beautiful) and I enjoy it thoroughly.

But he’s right. Writers write. And I have put off a lot of my personal writing because A. I’ve been busy but also B. because I have worried too much about the exactly right timing and perfection so much that I haven’t been getting any of my thoughts down when they occur to me or finished projects and gotten them out there despite them not being “just right”

If I’m going to be a writer I gotta just kick things out that are as good as I can make them. I can only get better through practice.