May 05, 2016
***NOTE: I am a Google employee***
Who is responsible for informing the world on politics? This is a question that recently came up since it’s election season and both U.S. politicians and technology companies are experimenting with getting the word out to people -- like you! Check out some of the many ways social media is being leveraged to get you out the house and to the polls.
Facebook shows you a political card in your newsfeed and prompts you to take the following action(s):
- “Share You’re Registered” turns you into a voting advocate by encouraging you to post a politically driven message to your family and friends
- “Register Now” directs you to a U.S. government website so that you can register to vote
- “Find your polling location” shows you where your polling location is after typing in your address. How simple is that?
- Reminds you to vote by telling you exactly when your state’s primary/caucus is via Google Now Cards.
- Makes you aware of new search features to find out more about specific candidates “Ted Cruz” and their stances on various political issues like “Hillary Clinton economic policies”
- Allows you to follow the results in state primaries/caucuses by searching for “primary results”
- Turns you into a digital voting advocate among your Snapchat followers by allowing you select a paid Snapchat filter -- instead of your go to photo filter
- Encourages you to follow the political scene in your local primary/caucus by watching a curated Snapchat story
Pretty cool stuff right? In a day and age where newspaper subscriptions are on the decline and social media is soaring among millennials, technology companies are starting to fill the information void. As a computer science teacher, I love this because it showcases how society directly impacts how we -- the people -- make decisions to vote, entertain and even plan family vacations. One thing to consider though is how this affects people who don’t have access to these resources. Are technology companies still responsible? What about newspaper publications and other media entities?
Let us know your thoughts and remember to vote in local, state and national elections!
#tech #voting #knowtheissues #election2016
On the road to the 2016 elections with Google Search (2016)
Facebook Asks People To Vote And Tell Friends, Shows Nearest Polling Place (2014)
Bernie Sanders launches 'Feel the Bern' Snapchat filters in lead up to Iowa caucuses (2016)
May 04, 2016
Our Family Jewels is the radio show DJ’d by my brother, Jules, and his co-host Steve, at Middlebury College in Vermont. The show is takes place each Sunday at 7pm, during what is referred to as “Hump Hour” at Middlebury. Jules and Steve have organized a show that plays songs related to sex or the sex lives of them and their friends, in one way or another. While playing a diverse range of genres they offer segments titled, “Story time with Steve”, “Pillow Talk”, and “Reachin’ and Teachin’”. These segments share entertaining personal experiences, little known facts or relevant news related to sexual health, with each week ending in a text from our parents expressing their enjoyment and sometimes surprise, from the last episode.
When the show first aired, my roommates and I sat in our living room listening in as Steve and Jules shared stories and played music. I found myself in fits of laughter during the segments and was almost as entertained by our family group text as I was by Our Family Jewels. Through the jokes and lightheartedness, I wanted to be sure to remind him of the importance of safe and consensual sex. The topic of sex is not one we shy away from in my home. From a young age, our parents were very clear about the importance of safety and our intimacy being consensual, a discussion many parents choose to avoid. In spirit of the radio show, MyHealthImpactNetwork offers readers the opportunity to learn more about health in a general sense. The Health Facts section of the site, speaks to the health literacy of our nation. Health literacy is defined by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine as being "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions." Unfortunately, levels of health literacy are low, with only 13% of the population between the ages of 16 and 49 at a proficient level. This interferes with a patient’s ability to make educated decisions on their health and have the necessary conversations regarding their health status with their respective healthcare providers.
I am glad that my brother has found an entertaining way to make the discussion of sex and its health implications more comfortable for his peers. It is important that we are able to take responsibility for our own health. This ties into being literate, but also falls in the hands of others to provide the necessary support to those who are not yet comfortable with their knowledge of health. Decisions made regarding one’s health can have lifelong implications, making it imperative that a basic level of health literacy can be met.
If you would like to look into health literacy or other areas of health, there is the opportunity to do so at https://myhealthimpactnetwork.org/health-facts/cat/health-literacy. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine also offers information on health literacy and can be found at http://nnlm.gov/outreach/consumer/hlthlit.html#definitions. To listen in to Our Family Jewels you can follow the link to Middlebury College Radio, http://wrmc.middlebury.edu/. My brother’s show airs on Sundays from 7pm - 8pm, enjoy!
March 11, 2016
Apple, a well-regarded [tech] company is usually in the media for bringing to market some of the most beautifully designed devices in the consumer and education space. Products like the iPhone and iPad have transcended how people consume technology and entertain themselves at a moment’s glance. New macbooks have almost a cult like following for college students as they prepare and study for future jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
More recently though, the company name has been tossed around for a dispute with the FBI, the nation’s prime federal enforcement organization, over the unlocking of an iPhone used by the killers in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. There’s been countless articles explaining Apple’s stance, the FBI stance, and so forth and so on but what about your stance? How exactly does this case affect you or is it an overblown media story from large corporations and government agencies?
Essentially, the lack of strong encryption on consumer devices can lead to hackers breaching the defenses of retail chains, banks, the federal government and even HOSPITALS!
Yet, hacking has become what seems to be a typical event. In 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management experienced a data breach exposing the personal information of over 22 million current and former employees (and even those that applied for employment via its portal). Health care organizations and your health data are not exempt from such comprises. For instance, Premera data breach exposed medical claims and financial information of 11 million customers, and Anthem’s 2015 data compromised the personal information about more than 80 million people. Why is this a major concern? As more healthcare organizations engage in network arrangements and data sharing, your personal information is likely to become more exposed.
How important is this data to healthcare organizations? In a recent NPR news segment, a California hospital paid a ransom “worth $17,000 to hackers holding its computer data hostage raised new concerns about bigger targets.” While not all organizations will pay ransoms, no industry is exempt and neither are we, as individuals. Being mindful of our data, its uses and our use of devices/systems/networks and even social media requires some degree of discernment. After all, we are in the digital age of the Internet of Things.
Continue to follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter for more information on the connection between the Internet of Things and healthcare. #IoT, #healthcare #databreach
February 25, 2016
I remember playing high school football and being told that the game is as much physical as it was mental. I spent hours each week in the training room, film room, weight room, or practice field preparing for the game ahead, and wanting nothing more but to win. Like most athletes, we played through injuries, and it was expected, but head trauma was treated differently. I have clear memories of teammates, and even my younger brother, sitting out for multiple games because of concussions. I had friends end their involvement in all contact sports because of the head injuries they incurred, while still in high school. During my short athletic career I watched head injuries be taken increasingly serious through the improvement of preventative measures like helmets, and more stringent recovery procedures for athletes.
The new film, Concussion, starring Will Smith, takes a look into the NFL’s gradual shift in perspective concerning the nature of the repetitive collisions that define the game. The movie speaks to the reluctance of the organization to accept any wrongdoing, as well as their hesitance to buy into the daily dangers presented by the game to those who play. The film features footage of the car crash that led to the fiery death of Justin Strzelczyk, a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in-game collisions, and a reenactment of Dave Duerson’s suicide. These clips are woven throughout the film to portray the urgency needed by those who are at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), found in many former NFL players due to repeated trauma on the brain, resulting in concussions. CTE showed its head through lapses in memory, headaches, sensitivity to light, outbursts, depression, and a gamut of other debilitating symptoms.
As the discussion surrounding mental illness continues to grow, I am reminded that ailments of the brain go unseen. There is no visible bruise, no blood or fractures that we can see, but the recovery is just as severe. I am glad to see an increased vigilance paid towards mental illness, but hope the conversation about CTE does not limit the scope to end at how the NFL will use the emerging research, but instead to a broader perspective of caring for mental illnesses is adapted. As I age I do not only worry for my childhood sports heroes, but also for the plethora of people dealing with untreated mental illnesses. We must continue to be proactive to fight the stigma of mental illness, in all aspects of society.
Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter for more on #health and #tech topics.
February 17, 2016
Not so fast. Maybe the world has moved on from Super Bowl 50 but not me. Since my hometown Panthers lost for only the second time this season, I’ve been contemplating writing this piece. Why? Because it attacks something I admire and has frankly grown to love over the years. Not only did millennials grow up with social media..we practically created it. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch several generations of social media evolve: from the Myspace era, to the Zuckerberg era and now the ephemeral messaging era known to many as Snapchat me that..mood!
For all the glory and praise that social media has brought to the world so has its ability to criticize us..particularly Black people in the media. If you don’t know where I am going with this then let’s start with the name Cam Newton or as mainstream media has wrongfully labeled a thug or villain. Now obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion but how much hate is too much in such a connected world?
Delivering a nasty message is always only a click away and it ain’t just Meek Millz and Kanye..everyone has Twitter fingers. From likes and hearts to retweet this repost that, we live in a society that’s built on the rise and fall of celebrities, athletes, actors and actresses. In fact, social media for the wonderful things it’s done has created a new mediums of abuse like cyberbullying. It’s no longer just a scene in horror movies. When the pressure mounts to be too much, real lives are lost!
What was once considered a harmless and closed argument at the local barbershop is now considered a public conversation overtaken by hashtags and trending topics. Cam Newton might be 6’5’’ and 245 but even Superman has a Kryptonite.
All it takes is one tweet multiplied by X people to cause the person behind the profile to disappear forever. Choose your words - I mean - your tweets wisely.
January 28, 2016
Kanye West recently released a record titled, “Real Friends.” The song provides an introspective look at West’s relationships, which in turn has prompted me to do the same.
As I continue to age, I increasingly see the value in having a strong cohort of friends with whom you can share time, advice, and experiences. It is not enough however to just have a group of friends. It is important for me to be in an environment that promotes growth and support. Surrounding myself with friends who are inspiring and striving for their own success is one of the many ways I create a healthy environment.
As many of my friends are preparing their post-graduation plans, it can be a time of high stress and relative unclarity. This is where I find value in the companionship provided by friends. With the diversity of experiences throughout my friends, I have seen their creativity fruition into ideas on how to follow their passions through the pursuit of a profession or continued education. The creativity extends past pursuing passions. Our discussions include planning how we will contribute to each other’s successes, providing not just an emotional support but also a support network for our futures.
These networks have been an integral part of my success since high school. As one of very few students of color at the private school I graduated from, we shared some common experiences in our environment. These experiences created a camaraderie among us that lasts even to this day. Our accomplishments are shared and our shortcomings are uplifted, and for this I am appreciative.
I have long found great value in being deliberate in the expression of love and appreciation for those in my life. With that being said, a special thank to all of my friends from high school, as well as those who I have had the great pleasure of growing with during my time here at NC State. Check out @myhealthimpact and www.myhealthimpactnetwork.org for this and other information of #health, #culture, #tech and #STEM.
January 10, 2016
December 09, 2015
Public Health Education is such a broad field of study, with a vast selection of areas to choose from. There’s tobacco, global health, epidemiology, climate change and a host of others. Out of these various topics, I find myself drawn to a few that seem to peak my interest: Sexual/Reproductive Health education, Domestic Violence, and Suicide/Depression. I haven’t decided exactly which area I want to focus on after graduation, but I have tried to educate myself on these topics.
My interest in Sexual Health came about in my Human Sexuality class that I took my first semester in the Health Education department. At first I only took it because I just need another health elective to take and didn’t think anything of it. We discussed so many things in that short amount of time and I was hooked ever since. My professor has been very influential in my decision to teach sexual health education.
On the weekend of November 21st, I had the privilege to volunteer at the 10th Annual Teen Talk Lock-In for the Wake County Health Department. It was an all night, interactive sexual health education workshop for teens. The key areas of focus were attitude & mindset, healthy lifestyles, and access to resources. They had 5 workshops on building positive and healthy relationships, coping and looking forward to positive outcomes, what love is and how to communicate your love to others, understanding your body inside and out, respecting different lifestyles and identities, and also the importance of Sexual Health Education and HIV/STI testing. I was able to go from session to session with the kids and observe the different speakers, my professor being among them. Seeing them interact with this age group, 12 to 17 year olds, further convinced me that I need to do sexual health education. I would like to further help in the fight to make sex a normal thing to talk about in everyday conversation.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I was appointed Chair of the 2nd Annual Women’s Empowerment Program for our Department of Health Education at North Carolina Central University. The purpose of this year’s program was to increase awareness of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and its correlation to HIV incidence among college women, through education, empowerment, and condom usage. The goal of the program was to empower young college women to RESPECT themselves in order to PROTECT themselves from HIV. Our keynote speaker and founder of Healing after Domestic Violence (HAD). Her story was so powerful, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The program targeted 18 to 24 females on campus. Being in the city of Durham, the young ladies on campus are bound to meet and maybe even start relationships with boys on campus as well as from the surrounding areas. For many of these girls, it is their first time away from home, without direct supervision, and they are likely to take advantage of that. Unfortunately for them, not everyone they deal with will have their best intentions at heart. What can start out as a sweet and loving relationship, can go really south, really fast. The program highlighted signs of domestic violence and where to seek help. There were also booths set up, by myself and my fellow Public Health Associates, showcasing different Social Marketing campaigns focused on Intimate Partner Violence. Resources that are available on campus also had booths set up.
In my research class, we had to choose a health topic to do research on. Normally, I would chose HIV/AIDS, but this time I did suicide and depression, focusing on African American women. I was very surprised that it was hard to find almost any articles on my target population. I’m talking about hours and hours of searching for an article even remotely focusing on depression or suicide in African American women. It was alarming to me, and made me think why no one had decided to do any research on this underserved population, in this regard. As a part of the aforementioned population, I personally know that depression is real in the African American community. There is also a stigma attached to it. I’ve heard people say “Black people don’t get depressed. That’s only crazy white people. Just get over it.” What people don’t realize is that downplaying anyone’s feelings of depression is not helping them at all, and possibly even worsening it, leading them to suicide. If I were to choose this as my final area of focus, I would definitely want to go into research regarding African American women and teenagers.
I wasn’t sure how Public Health Education was going to work out for me when I first transferred to the department, but I soon found my place. I chose to focus on these topics for various reasons. I know people who don’t know how some STIs are transmitted and don’t know how to use condoms properly. I know others who have been in abusive relationships, not even realizing that they were in one, and not want help trying to leave the person. That hurt me, that as their friend, they didn’t want me trying to help them. I, myself, struggle with my own depression, and dealing with it. There is always someone who needs public health education and resources, and as a future health educator, I am working hard so that one day I can help others with their problems.
Follow @myhealthimpact on health and tech stories impacts #youngppl. #publichealth #mentalhealth #sexualhealth
December 03, 2015
Over the years I have owned just about every kind of sneaker imaginable. Ranging in price from $35 to over $200, if it was hot and my mom could afford it, they were on my feet. From classic Chuck Taylors to Italian owned Filas and even the GOAT Jordans that still outsell just about every other sneaker on the market today. I’ve been in love with footwear for a very long time. From fancy colorways to exclusive collabs, I never thought about the evolution of sneakers until a few years ago when I developed shin splints during a routine workout. It was at this very time that I thought to myself, what percentage of this pain was caused by the shoes on my feet? As a trained computer scientist, I did what most technologists would do
call the family podiatrist open up Google search and fire off a few queries. What I got back was pretty interesting:
- Could Your Shoes Be Giving You Shin Splints?
- Worst Shoes for Your Foot Health
- How Shoes Cause Flat Feet and Overpronation
- How Does Your Arch Height Affect Your Shoe Choice and Injury Risk
Not only did my search expose certain brands but styles of shoes too -- ultra high heels, flip flops, and ballet shoes were all known to cause foot problems. I was pretty alarmed at the findings and wanted to know if anyone was looking into solving these types of foot problems through the next generation of footwear design.
Both Adidas and Nike had already invested a good bit of money into their Research and Development division to solve unique problems. Adidas was working on FutureCraft 3D (via YouTube), a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole which can be tailored to the cushioning needs of an individual’s foot. While Nike took on accessibility by literally reinventing the zipper on performance sneakers. They developed Flyease technology, a system that solves a problem for amputees, stroke victims, and people with cerebral palsy. By using a subtle zipper that snakes around the heel, they were able to let you peel open and close your shoe with one hand.
Neither of these two technologies are widespread yet but I am excited to the see impact foot health has on shoe manufacturers moving forward. With 3D printing, more durable and breathable materials and a conscious customer, someday we’ll live in a world where foot problems are alleviated not created by the shoes we throw on in the morning.
Tweet @myhealthimpact to let us know what you think and tune in for the latest and greatest in #tech, #STEM, #wearables and #health focused blogs!
November 19, 2015
I wish that individuals suffering from mental health issues could feel the embrace of support on a national scale. I think about the utilization of pink to express the support of breast cancer and seeing it on television, on football fields, and on college campuses. I think of the hope that comes with such support, and I long for something similar in regards to mental illness. The American Psychological Association reported that 44% of the patients who visited college counseling services “had severe psychological problems.” This number, however high, does not begin to tell the full story on mental health, especially in the college aged demographic. The stigma surrounding mental health issues is often silencing, which is why it must be spoken about deliberately. In the last year, NC State has lost two students to on-campus suicides, and even more outside of campus. This is to say the least, both concerning and devastating.
I am very thankful of my parents for raising me to be a compassionate friend and an attentive listener. They modeled for me to listen without judging and as a result I believe many of my friends have felt comfortable sharing openly with me their stress and worries. Some may say I am a bit hypersensitive to the mental health of others, I don't mind that personality trait. In a recent conversation with my mother who has practiced as a psychotherapist for over 20 years, she reminded me that one of the biggest barriers to young adults seeking help for their mental health is the role that stigma plays in our society. The reality of stigma is that it perpetuates isolation, shame, and hopelessness. It is understandable that individuals with emotional distress would be hesitant to ask for help in this environment.
As a society, we are generally unaware of the level of struggle that college students face with regard to mental health. There are students who walk in the dark every day without feeling supported and it is up to us as friends, faculty, acquaintances, classmates, and a community to help break the silence, increase awareness and show more compassion to those suffering from mental illness. We have both an individual and collective responsibility to support each other, this is the only way out of the stigma of mental illness.
Follow @myhealthimpact for real talk on often hard topics.
#mentalhealth #collegestudents #stigma #supportsystems
In Partnership with: National Science Foundation