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Category: Voices Articles

by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

July 22, 2014

Black America’s Silent Epidemic – Outtake of @OWNTV @Lisaling – Our America

We watched the June 26, 2014 Our America series on OWN.  In this series, journalist Lisa Ling covered the HIV epidemic in Black America. Our team watched intently and followed the Twitter hashtag during the show.  What would be different about this coverage?  How would the Black community be portrayed? Would this be, yet, another depiction of all things wrong in and with the community?  How would it reach young people, the millennials?

Here are comments below from the research scholars (millennials) on the MyHealthImpact team and their thoughts on the series. Comments have been shorten for this blog post.

After watching the show, I realized that there are still more progress/action to be taken surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Especially, when it comes to church involvement, I was taken back when only “one” church had replied saying that they would allow the woman to speak/tell her story. I feel like the stigma and judgment still remains in the church. The fact that a church made an individual feel inferior baffled me. Also, from watching the episode, it’s important for people to get tested regular. Knowing you status, as well as, your partner’s status is important..  Overall, I enjoyed the episode and thought it was informative and did a great job of depicting several stories of people battling/dealing with HIV. I think we need more documentaries/programs like this, which educate and spread awareness on the issue.
I thought that HIV in the Black Community by Lisa Ling was a fantastic program. It was truly touching to hear African Americans open up to their personal battles with HIV. This goes to show that there is no one specific way that you can obtain the disease. Each person had their story, testimony proves that this is still a serious topic within our community. What really stuck out to me was the fact that people didn’t want to attend the free HIV testing event because of the stigma that the disease carries. This was very hurtful to hear because regardless to whatever [virus] any individual may have, it does not take away the face that they are still first and foremost a HUMAN. I can only imagine the stares, gossip and bickering that takes place when people find out that someone they know has HIV. This episode allowed me to see things from a different perspective. You never truly know what it feels like being in someone else’s shoes.

The program was really informative. The part that really stuck out the most to me was probably when one of the men stated he expects to only live to his mid-thirties. I was trying to think to how depressing that could be. Not only did he know he know that he is infected, but he has also gone untreated for a lengthy period of time. Also I’m not surprised that people didn’t show up to the free HIV event. No one wants their life to change; they want to be comfortable with their respective lifestyle without restrictions. This lifestyle is important to uphold, especially with your family. When one of the women shared with her family that she has HIV, I couldn’t imagine how her family felt. That’s like hearing if one of my siblings were infected. Of course they’re still going to be my siblings, but I would continually sympathize with them. Overall the program was good and the twitter response was very responsive as well.
This broadcast was really good and extremely informative. The broadcast was a good reminder of a lot of HIV facts and information that tend to get lost because we focus so much on the sexual transmission of the infection. We tend to overlook the fact that some people may be born with it or became infected through the use of needles. When I think about someone becoming infected, in my mind I automatically think about someone being promiscuous and not someone contracting it from her husband who she thought she could trust. The broadcast shed light on the situations that we fail to think about. I was completely tuned in locked on the screen. Sad to see the show end and really wishing that the broadcast was on a channel that could be seen by more of the masses because this was definitely one that everyone needed to see.

Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter.  See for additional content and health information.


by Julian Cobb

July 20, 2014

Snapchat and Technology Obsession Amoung Youth

When thinking about the word “technology”, I’m pretty sure the younger generation comes to mind. Nowadays, there is an “app”, short for the term application, for everything. In a world filled with iPhones, Androids, and all other types of smartphones, you can almost do anything you want on your mobile device. For some youth, this use of technology has become an obsession. When I begin to conceptualize that one piece of technology has the ability to preoccupy and intrude one’s mind for such a long period of time, it frightens me. I will admit- there are some pros and cons to technology usage in today’s society.

Youth are using technology more to complete homework assignments. A research paper or a group project may require some extensive outside research and the Internet is usually the “go-to” spot. Online encyclopedias and dictionaries come in handy and often times yield quick results. On the other hand, technology can be used for the wrong purposes and can be viewed as a hindrance versus an advantage. Some students are busy moving their fingers to reply to a text message during class rather than being actively engaged in the classroom. Being mindful that an assignment is upcoming, technology gives youth more of a reason to procrastinate. They would rather focus on tweeting, updating their status on Facebook or sending videos to their friends. By the way, this new Snapchat application is something serious.


For those who may not know, Snapchat is an application that allows you to send short video clips and/or pictures to contacts in your phone. The interesting concept is that you only have a certain amount of time to view the “snap”. The viewer has no more than ten seconds to view the picture or video that has been sent to them. Actually, that time can be shortened at the discretion of the sender. Snapchat also includes a component called “My Story”. At any time, you have the ability to allow other viewers into your world by posting pictures or videos to your story. Keep in mind; this information is made visible to those who are your friends on Snapchat. Users have the ability to keep adding to their story at any time they want. This means their own personal story can potentially be up to two minutes long, all composed of one to ten seconds pictures or video clips. Within twenty-four hours, the entire story disappears.
From my understanding, users enjoy the spontaneity of Snapchat. It allows them to capture a particular moment in time and send it to whoever is on their friends list. After the allotted time of one to ten seconds, the viewer is no longer able to open up that particular “snap” again. This keeps for constant communication between the two parties involved. Okay I will admit it- yes I do have a Snapchat. Am I obsessed with it? No. But, I do believe that the youth in this upcoming generation ARE becoming obsessed with it. You can always tell when someone is adjusting their phone, trying to get that perfect shot using their front camera on their iPhone. More than likely, this is because they are on Snapchat.



by Keiara Morris

July 20, 2014

The Next Leg of the Journey

Working with MyHealthImpact made me realize that settling for just my bachelor’s degree and that mediocre was not acceptable and that not following my hearts desire was not ok.
By the end of my junior year of college, I knew that working in my field (business) as soon as I graduated undergrad was not what I wanted to do…directly anyway. This caused me to do a bit of soul searching. In soul searching, it led me back to the only thing I talked about doing as a kid, which was being an educator.

I did my research on what I needed to do, what programs to apply to and I went to work early on in my senior year. Initially while applying, getting out of North Carolina was my only goal. I applied to different school types and in different areas. Amazingly, I ended up right where I never thought I would be; 30 minutes away from home at East Carolina University. This made me realize, that everything happens for a reason and exactly how it’s supposed to regardless of the plans I thought I had for myself. I will be working towards my Masters in the Art of Teaching starting in June and if everything goes according to plan, I’ll be someone’s fifth or sixth grade teacher starting August 2015.

At first I wasn’t sure how to feel about going to a school so close to home but it began to grow on me. Once I met with some of the faculty and staff in my program, it slightly began to feel like home…exactly where I should be and exactly what I sh ould be doing. I’m completely excited about the next leg of life’s journey!!       


by Keiara Morris

June 04, 2014

For Brown Girls

I’ve recently begun blogging and the story of Karyn Washington the creator of ‘For Brown Girls’ caught my eye and captured my heart. Washington reportedly committed suicide at the tender age of 22 after suffering from depression stemming from the loss of her mother. This hit my heart for two reasons. 1. She’s only a year older than me…a college student and 2. She’s a blogger that was interested in empowering and encouraging women to love themselves. These two things are practically I. I’m amazed at the fact that as she still desired to help others and while doing so, she was dealing with her own things.


Mental health is something serious. Did you know that depression is a mental illness? Let me make something really clear: you, we, she, he is not exempt. College students are not exempt. We (the black community) always seem to think that some things “aren’t what black people do”. Mental issues, mental health and stability have no face, color, socioeconomic status or background. Depression and suicide are things we deal with right in our own backyards…our own living rooms. We have to know and understand that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. You aren’t crazy for seeking help with coping with the loss of a parent or dealing with suicidal thoughts or even for being sad. Those sad thoughts may be more serious than you think if not tackled. To me and I don’t know how much my opinion counts to you but I truly admire those that are out to better themselves and are worried about their own well-being; self-love. I’ve noticed that the black community…it’s of our culture to believe that what happens in our home, stays in our home and that our issues will not be talked about and ridiculed among complete strangers or the Joneses’. Seeking help is saying I know I’m dealing with some things and recognizing the fact that all things aren’t able to be solved in the comfort of your own home but better on someone’s couch. We, yes WE must kill the stigma placed around seeking help. Did we think that these resources were put into place to hinder? We must kill our prides.

I’m sure committing suicide was the last thing on Karyn Washington’s mind at some point; let’s be real here her purpose was to help, promote self-love and seeing the beauty in which we are. I think it’s fair to say everyone can put on a façade but a façade can only be put on for so long. You never know what people are dealing with. Take the time to say something nice. Take the time to check on someone that you haven’t talked to in awhile. You never know what someone is going through and how much of a positive effect your nice words and thoughtful actions can be of help. Know that it is ok to seek help. Do not allow someone to talk you out of taking care of you.

See @myhealthimpact on Twitter, the web at and on Tumblr for more information on mental health.

Gone too soon….


by Julian Cobb

May 29, 2014

Black Twitter

Social media is currently dominating our society today. This portable, handheld device called the iPhone has totally changed the way the world communicates. There is almost an app for anything you can think of. For my generation, I would say the most popular apps and social media sites are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I want to focus specifically on Twitter.

Who would have imagined that one 140 character message, better known as a “tweet”, would become so popular. Twitter has become a place where people express their thoughts and even discuss their every move. Because this can get a little excessive, users have the option to follow who they desire. Within this twitter world, there are different “communities” per se.  These communities are usually based upon the twitter accounts that a user is following. This could range from celebrities, health magazines or musicians. I didn’t realize this before but there is something called “black twitter”. Yes, this does exist.

Black twitter is a virtual community that focuses on the issues surrounding the black community. Black twitter really made its presence during the George Zimmerman trial and the Paula Dean incident. Within this community, there is no limit on when an issue has been discussed for too long. If the topic is of a great concern to the black community, believe that it will be discussed. This could go on for days or even weeks. As a black man, I feel that my people utilize black twitter because that’s where our voices are heard. Sometimes hiding behind a computer screen or a mobile device gives people more freedom to speak what is on their mind without any accountability. This is where we as a people go astray. Needless to say, one’s online presence has the capacity to either hurt or help people in many ways. Employers are now checking twitter sites to see what type of conversation their future employees are having. Even though some argue that twitter is a means of “free speech”, in all reality how free is your speech if you’re being judged by it. I understand that within black twitter, African Americans feel free to voice their concerns. I would just be mindful of what I post on twitter because you never know who may be watching. 




by Ebony Baldwin

May 25, 2014

Summer Fun

Summer is all about having FUN, and leaving behind all the worries. It’s the season when most people take the time to refocus, reenergize, and find what truly makes them happy again. With that said, I plan on going into summer with a clear heart, mind, and of course, the perfect summer playlist. The songs below provide me with a sense of happiness, a relief from stress, and most importantly, they never seem to get old to me.  Whether you are riding around town with your windows down, or jamming out solo in the room, these songs will have you wishing summer would never end.



by Ebony Baldwin

May 21, 2014

Where are the black doctors?

Recent studies have revealed that 5 percent of physicians and dentists in the United States are black. With a statistic like that, how does one find the courage and motivation to work towards a profession where they see no one like themselves? As I continue my journey in applying to medical school this summer, I find myself trying to beat this statistic and become the example. Hopefully a general surgeon that will one day be able to share her personal stories, and most importantly, my struggles, so that future black medical school candidates can see examples of successful black physicians who likely had similar backgrounds, experiences and struggles as they do. With that said, I think its important to start this process early. If you introduce the possibility and the representation of black physicians at a young age, I believe that more black students would embrace the idea of becoming a physician. In addition to that, black students would view Medical and Dental School as an option and not a dream. It’s time to change the statistic and move above it. We can no longer let the challenges and academic curriculum for preparing and applying to health professional schools hinder our ability as black students to perform and show that we too belong in these professions. Though sometimes things may get difficult, there will always be resources available to help guide and encourage us. The need for more black doctors should be taken more seriously. The shortage in black physicians can potentially make access to healthcare even more challenging for minorities. Thus, affecting minorities’ access to healthcare and proper treatment. So, the question no longer needs to be, “Where are the Black Doctors” but rather “Who are all these black doctors”. Though this is not something that can be changed over night, it can be changed in the future. As long as the seeds are planted, the tree will grow. Black physicians need to work together to help inspire future black doctors.


by Victor Ajewole

May 12, 2014

Much More Than Just a Cancelled Concert

So our university had the opportunity to host one of the greatest concerts of the current music age. The new rebellious hype of Migos accompanied by the classic hard rhymes of Pusha T had the potential to be the greatest concert of ones undergraduate career.  This potentially great concert ended before it even began. Two days before the scheduled date of the concert I found out via twitter that the concert that we’ve been so anxious about had been cancelled.

I personally, like many of my colleagues, was looking forward to this concert. This concert was supposed to help me get through the week. As soon as I found out that it was cancelled my mood completely changed. I had my stress reliever for the month taken from me. Stress is real, and when a stress reliever is taken away what do you have left; STRESS.

But this is much more than just a cancelled concert. We as the African American community on campus have had the repeated issue that our voices aren’t truly being heard. Even if we are “heard” our ideals are effortlessly tossed away as trivial or even not relevant to a “bigger” issue. For example there was a historic low of African American students that got accepted by NC State this past fall semester. A total of 215 African American freshmen were accepted to State last semester; yup only 215 out of a school of 35,000.

I know one of the biggest fears coming to state is that I would become white. Straight up, I thought I would be white washed by the very PWI I chose to get an education. I came to African American visitation day before it was renamed “Embrace NC State” and I perspective changed completely. Seeing people “like me” is important, not the most important, to my social skills, my culture, and the quality of my education.

Aside from my disappointment I had to find another way to relive this accumulated stress. I ended up hanging out with friends and just talking about the entire issue. Stress is real and we all need a healthy way to deal with it.



by Julian Cobb

May 07, 2014

Why I Became Involved

Time really does fly by. When time picked up its wings my freshmen year, I didn’t realize how quickly it would land into my senior year. As I evaluate my time at NC State, I realize that I’ve had a great undergraduate career. This wouldn’t have happened unless I made the decision early to get involved.

Entering into any unfamiliar territory can be quite challenging. Everything is new and you don’t know what to expect. This is exactly how I felt coming into NC State my freshmen year. To counter my feelings, I decided to turn my fear into opportunity. An opportunity to take a chance at life. A few pitfalls are to be expected but getting back up is all that matters. Freshmen year was my chance to learn about this new environment where I would be spending the next four years of my life. I recall attending the African American Symposium in the summer and hearing student leaders share about their collegiate experience. The symposium really helped me learn about various African American organizations on campus. It was here that I was assigned a mentor with the Peer Mentor Program. You can say that I had a “big brother” who helped make my transition from high school to college rather “smooth”. He gave the spill about campus activities and groups, which made me feel “cool” at the time. We began to foster a positive relationship that helped me jumpstart my college career. Soon after school started, I found myself visiting the African American Cultural Center on a regular basis.  Here is where I found support and engagement.

Throughout my time at NC State, I’ve been involved in various campus organizations. During my sophomore year, I decided to become a Peer Mentor. I felt that it was only right to serve as a guide to an incoming freshman. I saw the impact that the Peer Mentor Program had on me and I wanted another freshman to have that same positive experience. My first year was pivotal in setting the foundation for my GPA. Because I excelled academically, I got accepted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Gamma Beta Phi Honors Society. I not only wanted to be members in these organizations but I wanted to be a leader. I became the newly appointed Social Chair for Gamma Beta Phi in the spring of my sophomore year. I wanted to get my feet wet so I didn’t run for a high position quite yet. Alongside these organizations, I got accepted to serve as a University Ambassador. This opportunity would allow me to give tours each week to prospective students and work in the Murphy Football Center off campus. Serving in this capacity allowed me to practice my public speaking on a consistent basis.

My leadership roles really picked up during my junior year. I got initiated into the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated in the fall of my junior year. In the spring, I became the Vice President of the African American Cultural Center Student Ambassadors Program. To add another organization to the list, I became the Executive Vice President of the Poole Council. All of these leadership roles taught me how to work with people. From different attitudes and personalities, I had to remain focused on accomplishing the task at hand. I wanted to gain exposure working with people within my race and outside of my race.

Junior year also afforded me the opportunity to work on the @myHealthImpact team. Because people recognized me as a leader on campus, I believe they listened to what I had to say. With the project, I used that leadership and incorporated that into social media. By using social media, I have been able to spread awareness to various health disparities that plague my generation. All of a sudden, it hit me. There is power behind your voice. You never know who is being impacted by your actions or even by the words you speak. The quote is true, “somebody is always watching”.

As I journey into divinity school after graduation, I believe that all of my leadership experiences will pay off. These leadership roles have taught me how to communicate with others and how to lead by example. It is unrealistic to expect those who are following you to do what you won’t do yourself. Also, you can’t be a leader if you have no followers. A leader doesn’t have to speak on all their accomplishments. Instead, their work speaks for itself. I was determined to get involved so that I could be a role model for someone to follow. For that individual who made not have had a male influence growing up. For someone who wanted to be a leader but they thought it wasn’t the “cool thing to do”. I’ve hit some bumps in the road but I’ve kept moving forward. I’ve almost completed my race and now I’m passing the baton to those whose race has just begun.


by Keiara Morris

April 30, 2014

Empower Me and Health

Recently I started my own blog called ”Empower Me.”. My decision to start a blog came from having a need to just get it all out. Often times, I find it hard to verbalize what I need say but writing these things out seemed to be my way to vent. For the longest, I struggled with a blog name, the audience I wanted to reach, really even if I wanted to go forward with the whole thing, did I have time and would people really read what I have to say? I obviously put those things aside, stepped out on faith and onward I went. As my “about” states, “My goal is to empower and my purpose is to help. I’ve realized that as I pour myself into others, I’m doing nothing but helping myself. Empowering you as I empower myself; uplifting together”. If you can’t tell already, this blog is like my baby. Excuse me, as I get a little passionate. I’m still in the beginning phase of this and I haven’t written many posts but I believe this is the start of something great.

As of yet, I haven’t directly made a post about health and its importance but with my interest and own personal struggles with weight-loss, eating right etc., it isn’t far off. People tend to forget that mental health is a huge component of overall health. I’ve never really thought about it in this way, but I do believe that my blog caters to being mentally healthy; burden-free, honest, successful, stress-free, excited about life and happy. I’m promoting these behaviors because in my own personal opinion, it’s important to be this way. If you haven’t checked out my blog please do so and hopefully it will help you as much as it helps me. Uplifting together.



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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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