Friday, August 31, 2012

Health Studies First Short Story Contest: Entry from Brieanna Casey

Our first Health Studies short story contest has officially come to a close! We are pleased to share with you Brieanna Casey's short story entry on healthy eating!

What Could Have Bean 
So here we were again—another super long, annoying night at the dinner table. It was nine o’clock, and I had just barely managed to swallow my last half of a half of cold, soggy, stinky, green beans. But at least this time I won! Andrew had to stay at the table, in the dark, with only the light of the TV in the living room, because he wasn’t done yet. Dad even made him turn around to face the wall, while we watched. I always hated when Dad did that, because he knew very well that we could still here the TV from the kitchen, but every time we tried turning around, he’d see our reflection in the screen, and bark at us to “Turn back around!”
I think my record is four hours at the table, Andrew’s is like nine! I hated sitting at that table, staring at the wood circles for hours, but I hated green beans even worse! One time Mom made beets, these awful red vegetables, and they made me gag and spit up red for like an hour! Although the best story was when Mom and Dad said we could go roller-skating after dinner, so they only gave us half as much beans, and we started dinner an hour early. They said we couldn’t go until we finished dinner—our whole dinner—but I figured out that Mom just gave us less so we’d just take one big bite and get to go out for once.
See green beans are real hard to get rid of. Grapes and broccoli were easy because there was this big plant with a huge pot of dirt sitting right next to me, and when Mom and Dad weren’t looking, it was pretty easy to throw them in the under the big leaves. Sometimes Andy would even bribe me to pass his to me under the table and have me throw it away!
This was only plan B though, because one time Dad found Andrew’s stash of Flintstones vitamins in there, and now he keeps checking now and then. The best plan was to give it to the dog, ‘cause he’d eat it, and they’d never know! Except that Jake didn’t really like vegetables either, and as it turns out, especially not green beans. But who could blame him?
Oh, so the time we were going to the roller-skating rink, we’d been sitting there for like an hour; I guess Mom didn’t plan ahead so good after all. Finally, he said he was done (I had finished way earlier), and he began to get down from the table.
            “Lemme see! Open your mouth” Mom said. Andy opened wide enough for Mom to see that his tongue was clean, and we jumped in the car and left. Only when we got to the rink, and Dad started asking him stuff, and we noticed he wasn’t talking right. Mom went over, and already knew. “You still got green beans in your mouth, don’t you?!” I knew she was right, Andy had been practicing stuffing the beans in his cheek so his mouth looked empty when he opened for Mom. I guess that one was blown now though. “Let me see, open that mouth all the way! Oh my God, Andrew! Go spit that out!” You should’ve seen Mom’s face! I heard her say to Dad that those green beans looked like an alien! That’s what he liked to do, keep one bite in his mouth, after chewing, but not swallow. Me, I preferred just swallowing a whole bite without chewing, hoping it wouldn’t get on my tongue and I’d have to taste it! I’m twelve now, so I’m much smarter than Andrew now, he’s only eight.
Well, after watching us sitting at the table all night for months, Mom decided to teach Andy a lesson, but I had figured it out! I heard Mom and Dad talking in their bedroom about him not eating right when I went to ask them if we could open up another of Andy’s birthday presents, but their door was shut. That always means bad things, so I just listened, but I didn’t tell Andy, ‘cause Mom’s pretty smart too, and I wanted to see how she was gonna trick Andy into eating his vegetables!
The next night at dinner, Andy and I still sat for hours staring at our green beans, except only half way through the night, Mom said we could get down. We both looked up kinda surprised.
“Yep, just get down. I don’t know what to do with y’all anymore. I thought you could just eat your food because I had taken the time to make it for you, after working all day, but I guess I was wrong. So I guess we’re just gonna have to go to the doctor instead.” She didn’t even look up, (she was pretty good at foolin), but I looked over at Andy, and he was petrified!
“The doctor?!”
“Yep, I guess she’s the only one who can help you to eat right.” She still hadn’t looked up, just kept on clearing the table. “You know, I thought if I told you how important it was to eat healthy, to eat your fruits and vegetables, you would listen. Well I’m not going to let you kids get sick, just because you don’t like to listen. So we’re going to the doctor right after school, so she can give you your vitamins.” Now Andy also looked a little confused.
“How she gonna do that?”
“How do you think?” Mom replied, as she walked off outta the kitchen. I thought, this is gonna be great! She’s gonna just scare the crap outta him ‘cause he knows going to the doctor always means getting shots!
The next day, sure enough, she picked us up and we went. We didn’t say much when we got in the car, but then Mom started asking about our days, and we thought she’d forgotten. But then we passed our street and kept driving—you should’ve seen the look on Andy’s face!—he looked like he was gonna pass out!
He finally got up the nerve to ask, “Was that our street?”
“Yep!” Mom had a way of answering with cold, quick ‘yeps’ and ‘nopes’ that usually meant she was mad, and this was one of those kinds.
We drove all the way to the doctor’s office, except it wasn’t the one we usually go to. It was in a different part of town from the one we went to last time. When we got there, Andy’s hands were slapping the sides of his legs as he walked, and opening and closing his fingers. Mom told us to zip up our jackets good and tight, and we walked in. The place certainly wasn’t as nice as our other doctor’s office, it was clean, with white and tan walls, and other kids and parents, but there was only sad looking people on dirty and broken chairs here.
“Why’d we come to this doctor, Mom?” I asked. Andy looked over too, I don’t think he realized this wasn’t the one we came to last time until I said, he was probably too scared to notice.
“This is the doctor for people who aren’t going to get better.”
“What do you mean, ‘aren’t going to get better’? Andy asked. I was pretty confused too.
            She sat down in the one seat that wasn’t taken, and so we had to stand while other sick people went by, and sometimes they bumped into us. There were a lot of people in the small room. They didn’t look very nice either. Some were big or dirty, or old, and there was really loud coughing the whole time we were there. And it smelled too. There was only one family with a lot of kids in the other corner, but they were real quiet, they didn’t even look up.
I was staring at them when Mom answered. She kind of pulled us closer so she could talk in our inside voice and said, “This where you come when you’re always sick, and you have to keep coming back because you didn’t do what the nicer doctors said to. When the nice doctors tell you to do stuff, and you don’t do it, they make you come here, ‘cause they don’t like telling people to do stuff over and over.” She kind of pointed her head toward the door we came in at the other side of the waiting room, “See those people?” We were both staring at her now. I thought she was just joking with Andy, but she wasn’t foolin with this place, these people really were sick. “These people didn’t eat right when they were kids. You remember I tried telling you that good foods keep you from getting sick? Well these people didn’t eat good foods, and they got sicker and sicker when they got older, and now they have to come here all the time.”
“All the time?” I asked.
“Yep. Go ask that guy over there if you don’t believe me.” She pointed to a creepy looking guy standing by the door with a tank sitting next to him, and a plastic cup over his mouth.
“That’s okay.” I answered. We waited in silence after that for a long time. Then she got up suddenly. “Where you going!?” I asked again, and grabbed her jacket.
She looked down at me and said, “I have to go check in.”
“Well you can’t just check in as soon as you get here, you gotta wait after everyone else who was here before you! Don’t you think that’s fair?”
“Yeah,” I said.
She went up to the window, and talked to the lady there for a few minutes. Then another older lady came wearing the doctor’s coat, and they talked for a while. I thought I saw the older lady look over at us while they talked, but I quickly just put my head back down. Then Mom wrote something on the clipboard on the counter, and came back with some sheets of paper and those crayon bags the restaurants give you at dinner.
“Here.” She gave us each a coloring sheet and made us share the crayons. Andy suddenly grabbed my sheet outta my hand. I grabbed it back, and then Mom picked them both up, “Hey! You either share nice, or no one has one! Here, let Andrew have the monkey, you take this one, he’s cooler anyway.” She handed me the leprechaun one instead.
“Yeah. Mine is cooler, and yours is better for you, ‘cause you’re more like a monkey anyway!”
“Hey, none of that now!” said Mom. But I knew I was right, I’d heard Dad call Andrew a monkey before, ‘cause he has a lot of energy. I hear them say sometimes it’s ‘cause he has a dee-dee, whatever that means, but I didn’t care to ask.
We were finally feeling a little better when we were coloring, even though there was a lot of coughing still, when the nurse called me and Andrew by name. They never do that, they usually call Mom’s name. We took our papers and our crayons with us, but Mom took them up and stuffed them into our backpacks. The younger lady walked us down the dark, skinny hallway, and into a really small room, with a bed and a couple chairs. She told us to wait here for the doctor, and then shut the door behind her. Finally Andrew had enough, I guess he finally got too scared, because his voiced started to shake.
“Can we go now? I’ll eat my vegetables, I promise! Pleeeeeease!?”
“Nope.” He started crying now, and even I was getting kind of worried for him, this place didn’t seem like Mom was messin’ around, maybe I didn’t really hear what they said last night after all. “No, Andrew. You had your chance to eat right, but you didn’t want to.”
“But I will, I will, I promise!”
            Mom came over, and took his hands in hers, and said sweetly, “Andrew. Do you want to be sick like those people we just saw?”
            “Nooo-oooh,” he said, through his crying.
            “Well I don’t want you to be sick either, that’s why we’re here, so you can get your vitamins with the doctor.” He started crying harder again, when Mom, continued, “Now, Andy, it’s not gonna be bad, just a little shot, and then we’ll go, and we’ll see if you can’t eat some vegetables at home this week.” He continued crying, although he tried to stop, but then he just started breathing real funny instead. “Marian, what are you crying about?”
            I hadn’t even realized I was crying until Mom asked me. “I was just watching Andy, he looks scared Mom, you sure we can’t go?” Andy stopped crying for a second and looked up at me both surprised and hopeful, but he started again when Mom answered.
            “Well, I’m sorry he’s scared, but it scares me when you kids don’t eat right, and I think you’re going to get sick.”
            Suddenly the doctor came in. She was the same older lady from behind the counter, with long, curly gray and gold hair, and kinda big too.
            “Soooo. Who do we have here? Andrew?” Andrew didn’t speak, he just looked at her, and back at Mom, still crying pretty bad. “Hey there, what’s wrong with you?” Mom pulled him off her jacket and turned him to stand facing the doctor. I heard him mumble something. “Sorry what was that?”
            Mom gave him a little swat on his bottom and then he said, “Mommy brought us here, but I wanna go home, I don’t like it here.”
            “Well why did your mother bring you here then, didn’t you guys go to the nice doctor first?”
            Mom spoke up, “Yes doctor. We’ve already been to the nice doctor, but when I called for an appointment today they said we couldn’t come anymore.”
            “Oh. I see. Well why’d they say that?”
            “Tell the doctor why we came here Andrew.” He grumbled again, and after another urging from Mom he spoke again.
            “Because we didn’t eat our vegetables like she said last time, so now we can’t come back because we didn’t listen the first time.”
            “Oooh.” The doctor answered. “Well yes, I’ve seen a lot of little boys and girls who have to come here for that.” Then she looked over at me, “And you? Do you eat all your vegetables,” she stopped to look back down at her papers, and then back up at me, “Marian?”
“Well, I eat most of them,” I said. But then I felt Mom swat the back of me too.
“Marian.” Mom said loudly. Mom also had a way of just saying your name that also meant you were this close from being in trouble. I looked at Mom, and when I looked back,  the doctor was staring back at me. She looked almost happy about us having to be here.
“How old are you know Marian?” She asked.
She flipped through some more papers on her clipboard, “Twelve,” she repeated slowly, “It says here that twelve-year-old girls should be eating at least two cups of vegetables every day. You think you eat that much, Marian?” I looked back to Mom, but she only shook her head, while looking down, with her lips curled over to the side, like she does when she’s not happy.
“I guess not,” I answered.
“Well!” the doctor said almost happily, “luckily, we have an easy way to help the both of you here!” And as she said that, she pulled out a huge needle, with green liquid vegetables in the middle. Andrew let out a scream so loud it hurt my ears! I was pretty much bawling by then too. Mom had her hand over her mouth, but I could see she was probably upset now too, ‘cause I could see her eyes were squinting up, and her shoulders were shaking like was crying. Mom started pulling Andrew up onto the bed, and he was screaming and screaming. Then the doctor spoke again, but she was yelling so Mom could hear over Andrew, “You know Mrs. Vaughn, usually kids at this age are old enough to eat their vegetables without getting shots!’
“WE ARE!” I shouted before Mom could answer.
            “Well Marian, you both don’t seem very grown up, in here crying and screaming like this!” Andrew heard this, and tried to sit better, and cry quieter, even though he was still shaking a whole lot, now up on the blue plastic bed.
“We are old enough, we just don’t like shots!” I continued.
“Well we usually only use shots for kids who don’t have families that can afford good healthy food. I don’t like wasting shots on kids who just don’t like to eat them for no reason!”
Andrew perked up at this, just as the doctor went to draw the sleeve of his shirt up, and pleaded, “You shouldn’t waste them, we can eat right, we’ll eat whatever Mommy gives us,” then he jerked his head back toward Mom, “pleeeeease Mommyyyy, pleeeeeease?!”
The doctor set down the needle, and looked mad back to Mom too. “Mrs. Vaughn. Do you think we could speak for a moment in private?”
Mom looked down at us, looking a little mad, and kind of confused too, “Kids, could you please wait outside while I talk to the doctor?” Andrew jumped off that bed so fast, and ran to the door, but I was afraid Mom was going to get yelled at by the doctor, because she didn’t look very happy with her.
They were in that room for a long time, and we could only hear raised voices now and then; I kinda started feeling bad for Mom now too. Me and Andrew were sitting on the floor just outside. He was holding my hand, and wiping his face on his jacket sleeve. Finally Mom came out. She didn’t look too happy either.
“Come on, let’s go.” She headed out around the hallway, and we had to run to catch up. We walked carefully past all the people still in the waiting room, and got in the car as fast as we could. There was dead silence for a while.
Andrew finally asked, “Mommy?”
“Yes, Andrew?”
“What the doctor want to say about us?”
“Well,” she began, (just like she’d say the ‘yeps’ and ‘nopes’) the doctor was mad at me!”
“Yep. She said that I should be ashamed of myself for not raising kids who ate their vegetables, and then make such a big scene in the doctor’s office. She said that as a doctor, she’s allowed to give us all one more chance to all eat our vegetables, or next time we come back, she’s gonna have the nurses come in and hold the both of you down because she’s too old to put up with unruly children! See there? You got me in trouble too!”
“So we don’t have to come back here again?” I asked.
“I don’t know. She said she talked to our other doctor, and told her to expect us back there in a month to see if we’ve been eating all our fruits and vegetables!”
“How she gonna know, Mommy?” Andrew asked.
“Is that what you’re thinking about, huh Andrew? How to get away with not eating good again?”
“No, I just—”
“Don’t you think doctors have ways of knowing whether you ate your fruits and vegetables or not?!”
Well the drive home was a long, quiet one after that. We got home, and waited for dinner. Dad asked us how it went, if the doctor gave us our shots, and we told him what happened.
Before we finished he shouted, “Mom!? These kids didn’t get their shots?”
“No! The doctor got mad at us, and told us we had one more chance before we had to come back again in a month,” she yelled back over the kitchen wall.
Dad looked back down at us, “Hmmph. Yeah, like you guys are just going to start eating all your food, huh?
“We are,” Andrew started.
“Uh huh. I bet you’ll be right back at the other doctor’s office, and this time your mother will make sure you actually get your shot!”
“No, we’re gonna eat good now, Dad” I answered.
“Yeah, well, I guess we’ll see, won’t we.”
At dinner an hour later, Andy and I made it down in time to watch TV with Mom and Dad. It was nice, we watched some cartoons this time! I hated eating green beans, but I hated getting shots even worse!
*          *          *
“That was fifteen years ago, but needless to say, I never forgot it. When I had finally found out what Mom and Dad, and Dr. Brown, and even that receptionist had plotted for us just to get us to eat better—I thanked them. It was later discovered that our grandfather contracted diabetes, due to his own poor eating habits. I often wonder what my brother and I would have been like today if Mom had not been clever enough to keep us healthy. He sadly did not live many years after his diagnosis; after years of over-eating, his attempts at dieting and exercise just were not enough, not that he was motivated quite like we were. That threat of diabetes still looms over our family, but the constant reminder of that consequence, is a far better persuasive tool now that I am an adult, than shots would have been. However, today I understand why it really did upset Mother so; if we had not grown to learn the importance of health, and developed those healthy eating habits as children, it would have been much harder, perhaps impossible, to make the necessary healthy changes as adults. I still hate green beans though.”     --Marian Vaughn 

Author’s Note: This story is a fiction, but like all fiction, contains elements of truth. I hope that in whatever manner the TWU Health Studies chooses to display this work, that it serves to encourage parents of young children to never give up on building those healthy eating habits at an early age. Although I certainly suggest using the far more effective and enjoyable, (and potentially less traumatic strategies than those described herein), which are available from a variety of print and online sources. Thank you for your consideration. --Brieanna Casey, 01 August 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tips for Beating Stress: Stay Mentally Clear and Healthy as the School Year Starts

Often it can seem challenging to keep up with all of the things that we know we need to do to stay healthy. We try to eat right, exercise our body, and get enough sleep. However, sometimes life can be stressful, and while it seems common sense in today's society to think that everyone functions under some level of stress, what may be surprising is just how much stress can affect our mental clarity and our health.

Stress can make it hard to function at our peak mental abilities. Often this can attack us just when we need it most, for example before a big test, or prior to an important presentation at work. Additionally, an increase in symptoms from allergies and chronic health conditions, as well as more serious acute health conditions (such as a heart attack), can often be traced back to stress. Living under stressful conditions on a regular basis can initiate a never ending "fight or flight" feedback loop, which will eventually wear our bodies' defenses down. Yes, you heard that right - the very system that is in place to help ensure our safety in emergency situations, can also work against us if called into action too often! It seems a little unfair, doesn't it?

The first step to beating stress is being conscious of it. Symptoms of stress can present in a variety of ways. Most of us are familiar with headaches, muscle tension, and upset stomach. However, irritability, anger and outbursts, changes in eating patterns, and restlessness can all also be symptoms of stress ( Try to stay conscious of how your body is feeling during the day. When you realize that you are feeling stressed, try to address it by incorporating a stress beating technique into your day and/or week. There are many things that we can do that will help us break this stress cycle, and allow our bodies the true rest and recuperation that they need. Here are a few things that you can try:
  • Exercise: Sometimes low-impact exercise can be very helpful in beating stress. Consider taking a walk, or doing some stretching. If possible, take a couple breaks during the day to get away from what you are doing and let your muscles stretch out a little. In this article, the Mayo Clinic explains how exercise can affect our bodies in ways that will help defeat stress:
  • Meditation: Meditation has long been touted for helping to improve mental function and mood. Most of the meditation practices focus on breathing or visualization techniques that require us to work on changing the focus of our attention. And, despite the perception of meditation that many of us might have, there are actually many ways to practice that don't necessarily require you to sit still in one place the entire time! In this article, the Mayo Clinic gives some tips for how meditation can help you quickly beat stress: Also, here is a nice overview of how to do active meditation, if the traditional seated style is not quite your thing:
  • Yoga: Yoga combines physical movement with a focus on breathing. There are a wide variety of different styles that can be practiced; some are slow and relaxing, others are more active and rejuvenating - there is even laughter yoga! So, you can try several and see which might be right for you. To learn more about yoga, you can visit the Yoga Journal site:
  • Massage: A relaxing massage works by not only providing a relaxation of your muscles, but it also promotes the release of hormones in your body that can help to quiet that "fight or flight" response and break the stress cycle. There are also many varieties of massage out there that could be investigated, everything from the traditional Swedish massage, to healing Lomilomi massage, to the more active Thai massage. This article from has a nice overview of some of the more popular types of massage:
  • Creative Activities: Working on arts or crafts that require a mental and physical focus can help your mind take a break. The list of things that could fall into this category is virtually limitless! For some it could be painting or drawing, others may like home improvement projects or gardening, but you will know you have found your creative outlet when it leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Health Guidance has a nice article that talks about how creative pursuits can help relieve stress:
  • Laughter: Remember the old adage "laughter is the best medicine"? Laughter really is good for you and can also help reset the chemical balances in your body. Consider watching a funny movie, or sharing some down time with friends and just clowning around for awhile! The Mayo Clinic explains just how laughter can help you beat stress and benefit your body in this article:
  • Nature: Sometimes just taking a break from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, which seem to be filled with more and more technology, can be a great way to reset and relax. If you live in the city, you may be able to check out a local park or nature preserve. Or, for a longer trip, you might be able to visit a state park. Sometimes, even just sitting out in your back yard can be relaxing. Research from a professor at the University of Oregon explains how nature can help relieve stress:
So, as the new school year starts and life once again gets even busier, try to stay mindful of the stress you may be feeling. Take some time to take care of yourself! Do you have any creative ideas for relieving stress that you use? Please comment and share them!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview with Health Studies Alum Dena Jackson, Ph.D.

Dena Jackson, Ph.D.
TWU Health Studies alum
Recently we had the opportunity to visit with Dena Jackson, Ph.D., one of our doctoral alumni and she was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to do an interview with us, reflecting back on her doctoral studies and career.  We hope your enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed talking to her.

  • Why did you pursue a PhD in Health Studies?
I decided to return to school after 12 years in health care administration. I got my Masters in Education in 1987, which incidentally was another time when the economy was not great (the stock market had a major crash in October 1987) and unemployment was around 8%. I essentially drifted into health care administration because that was where the jobs were as managed care was just being introduced to Texas. I learned a lot about business, finance, and health care but my passion was always working more directly with people. My Master’s degree was in Counselor Education so that was the first direction I considered. To be honest, I had not heard of Health Education or Health Studies. While perusing the catalog at my alma mater, UNT, I came across their program in kinesiology and health promotion. At that time, my passion was (and still is), health, nutrition, exercise, and how those behaviors impact our entire life. I could not believe that people actually went to school and got paid for doing what I was already so excited about! Reading about the program at UNT led me to begin researching similar programs around the DFW area. I looked at UTSW, UNT Health Sciences, UNT Denton, and TWU. The programs varied in their emphasis on public health, physical education, and population-based health education.

TWU has a great reputation for healthcare science programs, including nursing and physical therapy. I certainly took that reputation into consideration when choosing my program. Once I narrowed my preference for a PhD program (versus another Master’s) and a program that addressed both population and individual health from an educational, psychological, and sociological basis – TWU was the clear choice for me.

  • How has your PhD in Health Studies helped you in your career?
While I certainly enjoyed the course work on cultural health, aging, and women’s issues, without a doubt the most valuable part of the program is the basic Health Studies emphasis needs assessments, program development, and evaluation. I have returned to these skills and techniques time and time again in jobs that were health focused and ones that were very different. For instance, I was a consultant in south Florida for two years helping nonprofit organizations design and implement comprehensive fund raising programs. The analysis process that I developed was very focused on the needs of the organization (both to external and internal constituents), their desired outcomes, and what type of actions would be needed to get them there. This is all the needs assessment, program planning, and evaluation that I studied at TWU with just a slight twist. The organizations ranged from foster care group homes and food banks, to elder care and immigrant healthcare facilities. I was able to draw upon my Health Studies knowledge repeatedly to help these organizations better serve their clients and communities.

  • What is the most unique position you’ve held where your Health Studies degree played an important role?
Sometimes it seems my entire post-graduation career has been unique! One position I held that graduates might not thing about is Assistant VP of Research Development for The University of Texas at Dallas. This was an entirely new role at UT Dallas where I worked with professors across the University to help coordinate submission of large research grants to federal sources such as National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Justice. These were not straightforward grants of one professor and his or her work, but larger multi-institutional, and sometimes multi-national, grants that required coordination of professors across the world, corporate partners, and K-12 education partners. It was my job to help put those components together and organize the process. These proposals often involved multiple submissions over 12 or more months.  I had to be able to dissect the RFPs, be a strong writer, and understand research design in specialties ranging from behavioral economics, to nanotechnology, to mechanical engineering. Health Studies taught me about grant writing and research design and set the stage for me to then be able to apply that structure to new areas of science. It was a very exciting job and my degree was well used.

  • You are currently the Vice President for Grants and Research at the Dallas Women’s Foundation. Has your Health Studies PhD helped you in that role and, if so, how?
Thinking about this question, I went back to the core skills that are required of someone in Health Studies. I was amazed at how many of them translated directly to what I am doing in this new position. For instance, I lead a team that looks at the issues that are impacting women and girls in north Texas (health, cultural, safety, and education) to determine what needs are being met and where the possible gaps in service are. I am responsible for both developing strong evaluation processes of our grantees as well as of our Foundation mission activities overall. I am developing a new advocacy program whereby Foundation staff and volunteers will increase recognition and action on policy issues impacting women and girls. All of this must be communicated to our grantees, donors, and the general public in a way that clearly shows the impact we are having and how they can become involved. Needs assessment, program planning, advocacy, communications – it is all there and in the PhD curriculum at TWU.

Since much of our research and programming is health and safety focused - domestic violence, sexual assault, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and how accessibility to health care impacts quality of life - I get to stay close to the field that I enjoy.

My coursework and degree in Health Studies gave me the translational skills to think critically, to develop, implement, and assess programs that address real needs, and to help guide others in the community in ways that grow services and make our social net stronger. I have never regretted the time I devoted to the program nor my choice of TWU.

Dena L. Jackson, PhD
Texas Woman's University, 2001
VP, Grants and Research, Dallas Women’s Foundation

Editor’s note: Dena was also selected to be part of TWU’s participation in the Op-Ed national initiative.

“TWU, the nation’s largest university primarily for women, is the first public university to be associated with The Op-Ed Project, a yearlong social venture founded to increase the number of women contributing to key commentary forums – newspaper opinion columns, television and radio talk shows, etc. – that traditionally have been dominated by men. According to the project’s website, 85 percent of the op-eds in the nation’s top newspapers and online sites are written by men.”

2012-2013 Thought Leadership Participants


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School Health Tips

Fruits and veggies are great snacks.

The fall semester is about to begin.  School supplies…check.  Dorm room gear…check.  Health and wellness…let’s see what we can do to check that off the list.

We all need it.  Actually, we need at least 8 hours to do our best work.  Some of us can get away with less, others need more.  A great sleep habit is to maintain a regular sleep schedule.  Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is important for overall health and wellness.  It also prepares  your body to respond to stress better.  Try to get at least 2 ½ hours a week, or 30 minutes each day.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  Break it up so you can fit in your schedule.  Find something you like to do and do it with a friend.  You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you do.

Incorporate a balanced meal into your daily routine.  Fruits and veggies are great snacks and are packed with vitamins to help your body fight illness, improve health and wellness.  Plus, they are low calorie options, great for keeping of the freshman 15.  Don’t forget to start each day with breakfast.  Eating breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and gets you ready to tackle that 8 am class.

Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health.  Be sure to keep a strong support network that can help you when you are feeling overwhelmed with life’s ups and downs.  Incorporate time to do things that you enjoy to balance out work and school demands.  The TWU Counseling Center and Student Health Services is also available to help you cope with college stress.

Staying healthy
It is important to get a regular physical checkup.  Look into TWU Student Health Services for your well woman and well man exams.  Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is the best defense against germs.  If you do get sick, stay home.  Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and throw it away.  Flu season comes just in time for final exams.  Keep ahead of the game by getting a flu shot from Student Health Services.  Check our website for more details. 

For more information, check out .  Also look for our new health and wellness blog, Ask George, coming soon to Student Health Services Promotion of Wellness.  For more information about college health, check out .

Now you can finishing checking off your back to school list!  

Sonia Redwine, M.P.H. is the assistant director of health promotion for TWU Student Health Services and an adjunct instructor with TWU Department of Health Studies.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reactions = Reality

"Pause. Resist your knee-jerk reaction and give yourself time and space..."

You are not in control of everything. That's right. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot control everything that goes on around you. The economy will crash, people will say and do things that make you upset, clients will come and go, your business will ebb and flow. And there's not much you can do about it. Or is there?

One way to gain a bit of control back is to understand that things don't happen to you, for you or against you. Things just happen. You are not here to control what happens. Your job is to control how you react to what happens. And the way you react determines how your life unfolds from that point on. Hence, control.

In other words, people and circumstances can show up (or throw up) in your life however they may, but you get to choose how it will affect you…or not.

What is your typical knee-JERK reaction when things don't go your way?

Do some self-observation. Observe your reactions and your results. Be with them. Critique them and examine how they currently define your life and business. Then ask yourself if they are getting you the results you want? If not, here's what you do.

Pause. Resist your knee-jerk reaction and give yourself time and space to allow any negative reactions to flow through you. Then use your coaching skills to ask yourself a question that will help you shift into a more positive mindset from which you can react: What is abundant here? What belief or opinion would serve me better? How do I deserve to feel? Then answer it… and feel the shift.

The moment you begin to take control of your reactions you begin to take control of your reality. Now that's some cool shift!

Jennifer Powers is a coach, speaker and author of the best-selling book Oh, shift! She teaches and inspires people to stand in their power to get what they want. Visit her at Jennifer is also on the faculty of Coach Training Alliance

Reprinted with permission from Coach Training Alliance.

Want more tips and ideas on how to be successful in school, your career, and life? Try some of these: