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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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by Denae Ford

June 09, 2015

Growth

The key to maintaining a long relationship is keeping it healthy. Think of it as the same way you would treat a plant. You have to water it, nurture it, and give it some room to grow. Growth being the most important.  Your significant other should complement your growth and you should do the same for them. This means encouraging one another to pursue those dreams and maintain high goals.

From my personal experience, it can be somewhat challenging if those dreams take your significant other to another side of the country. At the end of the day you have to put yourself in their shoes and realize that you would like the same support in that situation.

Relationships can be hard; that’s no secret. However, recognizing how the growth of the relationship affects the individuals is amazing. Growing as one and yet still two individuals is the best part of it all.

couple holding hands

Psychology Today gives a couple healthy nuggets to maintaining a healthy relationship. I’ll leave you all with a couple that resonated with me:

  1. Give what you want to get.
  2. Successful relationships take work.
  3. Find a way to become and stay best friends.
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by KaMar Galloway

May 03, 2015

What Ever Happened To Your Favorite Players?

As you can see below, both rising stars and professional athletes are dying from heart disease each and everyday! This interactive infographic shows the fate of athletes who died, retired or was forced to have surgery as a result of their heart condition. It's really disheartening because a lot these professionals died early on affecting not just fans but their families. Let's not only remember the names on the back of a jerseys but also use their story to identify heart diesase in young athletes and prevent misdiagnosis from so many lives short.

Tweet us @myhealthimpact to let us know if any of the players on this shocked you! 

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by Marcel Souffrant

April 30, 2015

Heart Health in Young Athletes

When we are young we are told and reminded of the importance of exercise and why we need to remain active.  My parents were sure to emphasize the benefits of physical activity and to this day, continue to do so.  This is why it often surprises me when I hear of professional athletes passing away from heart attacks and cardiovascular related health issues.  These are people whose career is centered on remaining active and physically fit, but there is no certainty that these habits remained after they’re playing careers came to an end.  More striking however is the seemingly prevalent occurrence of young athletes, at the high school and college age, who have suddenly passed due to cardiac arrest.  It is estimated by the American Academy of Pediatrics that “2,000 people under the age of 25 die from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States every year.”  This is a striking figure because this encompasses a group of young adults who generally, are at the peak of their physical fitness.

Perhaps one of the more prominent stories in the last year is the story of Isaiah Austin.  Austin, a former basketball player at Baylor University, declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft last year.  After the plethora of tests conducted by the National Basketball Association it was discovered that he could never play competitive basketball again, four days before the draft.  Isaiah Austin suffered from Marfan syndrome, which caused an enlargement of his aorta.  The combination of aortic enlargement and extreme physical exertion, as he would be subject to as a professional basketball player, made him susceptible to a rupture of his heart.   This was the exact fate of Flo Hyman, an Olympic volleyball player, who passed away on the court due to a rupture of her aorta in 1986.

The story of Isaiah Austin generated some, but not a lot of conversation about the health of young athletes.  Austin had been living with this condition and could have met his fate at any point during his athletic career at Baylor University.  Fortunately this did not happen, but many student-athletes do not have the same luck.  Every year there are stories of high school and college students who collapse on the athletic field, and most of these cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to structural defects of the heart.  This begs many to ask the question, should we increase the testing of our amateur athletes before they can play?  Had it not been for the depth at which the National Basketball Association looks into the health of their players, the discovery of Isaiah Austin’s aortic enlargement may not have come until it was too late.

The message of remaining healthy and maintaining regular exercise is important and effective.  We must also include the message to be aware and responsible for our health.  School systems, colleges, and doctor’s offices should encourage student athletes and their families to become aware of their health.  The opportunity to curtail the sudden death of student-athletes is available.  These institutions have the ability to provide families with a stronger understanding of their health, and it should be capitalized on. Follow @myHealthimpact for more on #Health #Tech #Culture and views of #youngPeople.  See us on YouTube, and follow us on Tumblr.

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by Denae Ford

April 22, 2015

The Heart of an Athlete

Florence Griffith Joyner better known as Flo-Jo was once considered the fastest women of all time. She was known best for her beauty and fashionista style on the track. Her long hair and extraordinary nails have definitely set the tone for female track and field athletes across the globe.

                       

However there is more to her story, many do not know that she was battling a series of health related issues. Besides the scrutiny of steroid rumors, Flo-Jo was struggling from serious heart problems which were often brushed off as a minor exhaustion. (source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/clues-to-flo-jos-death/ ). Her shocking death in 1998 at a mere 38 years old from a heart seizure at the time was fairly uncommon. As a former student-athlete, her death makes you wonder how healthy you really are and if you are taking the appropriate measures to stay healthy. Am I drinking enough water? Am I really giving it all at practice? Am I speaking up when my body is feeling hurt? Am I really taking care of myself?

Personally, these are things that I struggled with throughout my track and field career. Unfortunately, addressing these questions is much easier said then done.  A quote from Flo-Jo says “I don’t always have the best eating habits. I like butter and ice cream. There are days when I should work out and I don’t. But it’s never too late to change old habits.” This quote inspired me to take a stand against my current health habits. It is truly never too late to speak up and try something different.

           

With that being said I encourage all my fellow athletes to make sure they are taking care of their health regardless of how ‘soft’ it may make you look. Tell your coach when you aren’t feeling well. Make that doctor’s appointment when your coach recommends it to you. Take the propers steps to check up on your health and encourage others to do the same. It may truly save a life.

 

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by Research Scholars

April 16, 2015

SpringTime 2015

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by Research Scholars

April 09, 2015

Sexual Health Education

                   

Denae

It was in elementary school that we had our first sexual education course. It was either 5th or 6th grade that we marched into my Science Teacher’s room to hear the real truth about the birds and the bees. Of course, our parents had to sign a permission slip in order for us to get the life lesson. The funny thing is I barely remember anything about that class. All I remember is that we sat down we talked about different types of condoms, pregnancy, and maybe chromosomes.  My parents never had ‘The Talk’ with my siblings, and I so this class was the closest thing to it.

It wasn’t until I had a Sex Education class my ninth grade year in High School that I had to witness the miracle of child birth. In this class, we watched videos and talked about the entire sexual reproductive system. After that, there were no other topics on that until I got to college.

                 

Marcel

From a very young age, I was made aware that there were differences between “boys” and “girls”.  I faintly remember a time in second or third grade where they took each student in the class and pointed to two dolls, mentioning there were differences and that it was inappropriate to touch certain areas of each doll.  But this was not a true introduction to human sexuality.  I took had a 5th grade class where we learning about family living, ethical behavior, and human sexuality.  It was here that I learned of abstinence and its importance in remaining healthy.  When I entered high school, I finally learned about contraception, STDs and STIs, but for many this is much too late.

I have the great fortune of having a psychotherapist as a mother.  She has worked with adolescents for a long majority of her career, and has always been very open with my brother and me about what is and is not appropriate.  My sexual education may have begun earlier than many, but my mother’s experience with adolescents who had experienced sexual violence or had committed acts of sexual violence against others forced her hand.  My brother and I were taught early on about our bodies, respecting ourselves, and showing the utmost respect for others.

                     

KaMar

I remember going to my PE class in the fourth grade excited to finally let off some steam and play with my friends. It was Friday which meant free day aka everyone grab a basketball and find the nearest hoop. However, today would be different as my PE teacher split up the group into boys and girls. The girls were taken to another classroom while the boys were instructed to sit on the gymnasium floor. Up above was a rolling TV cart and my PE Teacher explaining to the boys group that he forgot to mention during the last class that he had to teach us about how our bodies change as we get older. Naturally, we weren’t trying to hear it, but we sat and listened hoping we would get just 5 minutes at the end of class to throw up a few baskets.

We ended up watching a long and boring film that never spoke about how our bodies changed over time but rather depicted various sex organs, including their scientific name, while narrated in a robotic tone. Thinking back to the actual footage, I cannot understand how something so incredibly stale could be shown to fourth graders! At a time where young students gravitate towards shows on Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, and other children focused networks, it’s mind boggling to note this film as my introduction into the sexual reproduction cycle. I am not alone on this issue as sex education is anything but standardized. At present, only 22 states require sex education in schools, and only 19 require that sex education is medically, technically or factually accurate. With those numbers, I wonder if sex education is meant to teach young minds about sexual health or just a course with a checkbox?

 

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by Marcel Souffrant

March 30, 2015

Thank You - Women’s History Month

When I was younger the month of March filled me with extreme amounts of joy.  I was able to look forward to the birthdays of my paternal grandmother, my cousin, my aunt, my father, and even myself, all in the same month.  Recently, this sentiment has changed.  I still feel joy and excitement during this month, but accompanied with these emotions has come reflection.  A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday, and of course, it was celebrated with the fanfare one would expect for such a milestone.  Even with the celebrating, I spent a significant amount of time to myself, thinking about where I was, the company I was with, and the influences on my life to this point. 

The summer after my freshman year at NC State, I was awarded a grant to spend five weeks in Haiti, through the Park Scholarships.  In the grant I explained that I wanted to gain experience in the administration of healthcare in a developing country, but to also experience significant cultural immersion in my father’s country of birth.  My aunt at the time was still living in Haiti, and assisted with my in-country arrangements. My family accompanied me for the first week, and my father spent an additional week in the country before returning to North Carolina.  The last three weeks of my time in Haiti I spent learning, intensively.  The experience I gained from the hospital was tremendous, but the wealth of knowledge I gained from my aunt was priceless. 

My aunt and I spent countless hours talking about my life and hers, the places she’d traveled, the people she met, the beauty in simplicity, and what is important in our lives.  We began to discuss my next visit to Haiti and how to establish a sustainable trip for students who are interested in the experience.  Unfortunately, this would never come to fruition.  My aunt passed away the following March, the day after my birthday and two days before hers, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.  With my aunt’s passing came reflection and insight.  The importance of love, to not take people for granted, and to crystallize the relationships I have while also fostering new ones, gradually came to me as integral parts of life. I thought of my maternal grandmother, who was present at each of her grandchildren’s births, and has never missed a birthday since, my paternal grandmother whose mannerisms and love I remember to this day, and my mother who reminded me just today that she “never misses a beat.”  These relationships have played a powerful role in my growth, and continue to shape my life. 
In recognition of Women’s History Month on this last day of March 2015, I celebrate these women.  Their impact on me has yet to be fully realized, but it is already significant.  The love I have for them is overwhelming, and I am thankful for that.
#WomensHistoryMonth #WHM2015

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by Denae Ford

March 26, 2015

Women of Color: STEM Faculty Discussion

Currently my department is actively recruiting faculty members. We have candidates come and present their work as we listen and take notes on their interesting talks and pass them on to the department. However, I noticed something interesting. None of the faculty candidates talks that I have sat in on have been women of an underrepresented group.  I thought it was pretty interesting when I was trying to find a paper for my group to discuss at our weekly meeting that I stumbled upon a guest editorial by Marcy Towns titled Where are the Women of Color? Data on African American, Hispanic, and Native American Faculty in STEM.

I felt as though this paper fell into my lap and but I was very hesitant to bring it to our reading group in fear that I would be pinned as “angry”. After great deliberation with one of my labmates I decided to bring it up while we were talking about another faculty candidate. Of course me being as awkward as I am the conversation started out slow but then generated a great flow. In the conversation we talked about different cultures, what it means to be a majority, the benefit of having role models, and having professors and faculty you can identify with(beyond race) as a student. In this discussion I think we all learned a little about the environments we have come from and the transition to NC State’s level of diversity. The conversation even took a turn to talk about the effects of diversity in general and what that is to us. Personally, NC State was a step backwards for me as far as diversity is concerned, for others it was giant leap forward.

I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to have talked about this with my lab group. We definitely learned a lot about each other and this allows us to grow closer as researchers and to understand each other better.

During our talk I sent the paper to the group email list for people to read afterwards. I’m guessing my advisor, who was not there at the discussion, read the paper. He later sent me a blog post by Stephanie Migdalia Pi Herrera titled Institutional Barriers for Women of Color at Code Schools. The most interesting point of this blog post that resonated with me is trying to bring up the topic as an issue without sounding aggressive. I just thought it was amazing how my advisor wasn’t at the discussion but was able to send me support about the topic.
I encourage all our readers and followers to read both articles. You can claim it as a way of celebrating Women’s History Month! I guarantee you will find something valuable from there even if you are not a woman.  Consider bringing up these articles as a great way to start a conversation with your own community.  Also, see more on the topic noted as Acknowledging Diverse Experiences in STEM by @drfayonline.

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by Marcel Souffrant

March 16, 2015

Baby Brother

When asked how I am doing, I often respond by saying, “my family is healthy, and my brother is happy, so I have no complaints.”  With the stresses of coursework it can be easy to get wound up from time to time, but I do my best to avoid that.  Last semester I successfully attempted to meditate each night for 30 consecutive days, and an integral part of my meditation was to think of five things I am happy about or grateful for.  Each night my family was involved in one of the five.  With four strong personalities between my mother, father, brother, and I, there is seldom a dull moment, and rarely silence.  My mother is a clinical psychologist, and my father a professor of philosophy, which in turn has led to the cultivation of expressing emotion and opinion in my brother and I, beginning at a very young age.  This skill has served me well, and a characteristic I owe endless thanks to my parents for.

As we have begun our Black History Month the messages of unity, pride, and appreciation, ring closest to me at this time.  With the current attention paid to black lives, on a national scale, the love for my younger brother has also come to the forefront of my attention.  I do not think my brother and I have ever been closer.  My brother is currently a senior in high school, going through a tiresome college application process.  Hopefully, his opportunities will be plentiful, which should create a difficult decision come Spring when he receives his admission decisions.  This process is exciting for me as well, as I wait anxiously to hear the decisions, it might even be more exciting for me than it is for him.

While I was in high school my mother repeatedly said that she wanted to raise two empathetic young men, and I believe my moving away spurted this characteristic.  The distance between my family and I, specifically with my brother has prompted an interesting change.  We were together for most of our schooling, and spent most of our free time together, but as he gets older and I do the same our conversations have changed.  Because of our constant presence in each other’s lives we did not feel the need to talk about our weeks, or events taking place.  We were aware due to our presence.  We now rely on each other’s perspective when talking.  I hear what goes on in his life through his interpretation, and vice versa.  This is not however a negative change, it is indeed an interesting change, and has definitely influenced my empathy.

I trust his interpretations and appreciate his honesty, making it all the easier to feel and understand his emotions, as he juggles his maturation, his interpersonal relationships, and his environment, all the while finishing his last semester of high school.

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by Denae Ford

March 12, 2015

Love Thy Sister

Sisterhood: (noun) the close relationship among women based on shared experiences, concerns, etc.

I am privileged to say that I have been blessed to have one younger sister. She is only a year younger than me but sometimes it feels like 5 years. I feel like I have matured so much faster than she has but I think my independence has encouraged that. I find myself wanting to do all things for her and protect her as if she is my child but she’s not. We are peers and that is sometimes hard to remember.

Sometimes its hard for me to understand that we are going down separate paths of life. My path is more structured and planned and her’s is more free flowing. It’s challenging for me to just let her find her own way but living with her has allowed me let her live.

This is the first time we have lived together since we shared a room in middle school. We butted heads a lot when we were younger just as we do now, but I think overall it makes our bond stronger.

My sister and I have heart to hearts more often and share more of deepest darkest secrets more. Some people have sought out sororities and other organizations to find this bond that I have had all my life.  I think we have grown to understand each other better and I am learning to treasure this bond. The point of this post is to encourage my readers to reach out and embrace their sisters whether they are bonded by blood or not.

Be sure to follow @myhealthimpact on twitter as we post other blog posts about healthy relationships.

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In Partnership with: National Science Foundation