Human Trafficking: You Have Probably Seen the Signs

by: Shenandoah LaRock and Jon Watts

“Earn $500 dollars a week!”

“Make money while traveling! Call 881-235-0978”

These signs are usually yellow or white poster boards that look like something your mom made for your yard sale. Wouldn’t it be nice to make five hundred dollars a week or get paid for not doing anything at all? There is no other description except the money and the number. Sometimes there will be a first name, someone to ask for when you call. Often times they use a name that implies that they are a woman because generally, people are more likely to trust women instead of men.

This is how sex traffickers lure you in.

If you call this number it may seem legitimate. They will probably try to convince you to meet them somewhere.

Do not. This is an elaborate ploy for sex traffickers to abduct their victims. A common misconception about sex trafficking is that it’s only a problem in major U.S. cities. The dark reality is that sex trafficking is everywhere. Iyanna Jame’s essay, “Human Trafficking: ‘Close to home” suggests that “The young female students without an adequate home, no close family, far friends, and a long distance support system make an ideal target for sex slavery.” I have seen these signs on UWM’s campus. Signs promising thousands of dollars for a paid internship signs offering jobs that pay hundreds a week. These are all sick ploys designed to attract the poor college student. If you see these signs, tear them down if you can. Let your friends and family members know not to fall into the trap.  Remember that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

College students aren’t the only targets for sex traffickers. Unlucky 13 (2012) is an organization through the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. Unlucky 13 estimates that 13 years old is the average age of those trafficked in the United States. Ninety-two percent of the trafficked youth identified as women, suggesting that human trafficking is primarily a form of gender-based violence. In Wisconsin, seventy-nine percent of all human trafficking cases reported occurs in the city of Milwaukee. According to Unlucky 13, seventy-eight percent of trafficked youth identify as black and African American. This shows that human trafficking in Milwaukee is as much of a racial issue as it is gender.

If you suspect that someone you know may be a victim of sex trafficking, seek advocacy. There are numerous organizations in Milwaukee that are dedicated to the aid and protection of survivors. The Sojourner Family Peace Center is a safe and secure refuge for survivors by supplying free advocacy and shelter. Additionally, there are Pathfinders, which specializes in providing advocacy and shelter specifically for youth. To find a full list of organizations, visit the link below:

Justice for all isn’t inclusive enough (Nancy De Jesus)

“Justice for all isn’t inclusive enough: Undocumented workers struggle for human rights and the hidden cost of living a healthy lifestyle”

As the population of individuals who abstain from using or eating animals or animal products continues to grow it simultaneously promotes lifestyle changes. Awareness continues to grow and create consciousness that serves to create social impact among social issues. Many of the discussion topics support pro-environmental viewpoints and argue for ethical practices to be implemented in these industries. Community organizers and Farm worker advocates have raised awareness about the abuse faced by workers in the Agricultural business throughout history. Campaigns and awareness has been centered on improving the working conditions and educating workers on their rights and what resources are available to them. The difference is the current support for veganism, sustainability, and organic markets which advocates have argued that human rights violations are being left out of the conversation. Investigations and studies have found that migrant women farm workers experience severe forms and amounts of violence when compared to other workers in different industries. One of the characteristics that make women very vulnerable to being exploited or sexually abused relates to their immigration status in the United States. While many are undocumented without any status fear of deportation or any police contact makes their likelihood of reporting significantly low. Others who are recruited through the H-2A program or other guest worker programs are also very vulnerable to remain silent about abuse because they are falsely told that they will lose their eligibility to participate in the program. Often times there are hidden fees, debt bondage, or other coercive actions that contribute to the lack of knowledge in denouncing the poor working conditions and treatment of workers.

The promotion of sustainable foods cannot be silent to a food system that is based on exploitation beginning with the workers who harvest the crops. Specifically, women who work in the fields that are facing alarming rates of sexual violence, sexual abuse, and harassment in the workplace. Often times the perpetrators are not held accountable because victims do not report the incidents in fear of losing their jobs. Having little financial security makes them dependable on their employer creating a vicious cycle that constraints them to poverty. The opportunity for social mobility is almost non-existing due to the low wages from working in “piece work”. This creates many issues because not being paid hourly hinders workers from taking breaks, and instead pressure them to work for long hours to increase their income.

The food justice movement encompasses various social justice issues that are not as widely recognized by followers in comparison to issues that are commonly brought up. More efforts need to be made to be inclusive of previously ignored narratives to understand the true sense of what the injustices are at all levels. While the market focuses on improving consumer’s quality of life we must ask at what cost? The exploitation of workers, think of the illnesses caused by pesticide exposure, chronic trauma, and the most vulnerable workers being women. Those who advocate and pledge a vegan lifestyle must recognize the disparities and support other efforts that coincide with environmentally sustainable practices and stand on equitable principles. When taking the initiative to an individual level in which choices made are on the bases of ethics, ethics extends to cultivating, harvesting, transporting, and the production stages.

It is inevitable not to take a critical stance to discussions that pertain to social issues in which structural and institutional forces need to be addressed to create real social change.

Cuddles and Confessions (Mia Sarae Valenzuela)

With winter approaching in Wisconsin, many single young folks are preparing for the cold weather and more frequent nights spent indoors by buying blankets, hot cocoa and of course, sifting through bumble, tinder, or grindr to find a possible mate just in time for cuffing season. Pause. Are you smirking right now because you know that’s most definitely you? We’ve all been there and let’s be honest, ~it be like that~ sometimes. Anyways, you adjust your settings on the dating app of your choice and eventually, you find a good match to snuggle up to while watching Disney Plus during the next polar vortex. Now that you have met the next love of your life, you spend countless nights staying up far too late to text them, you become a shoulder to lean on when they’re having a bad day, you discover they hate olives in their salad (but that’s good news because you LOVE olives), you maybe meet their friends and they maybe meet yours, and then they disclose to you they are a survivor of sexual assault. What now? Remain calm. It’s going to be okay; I promise. I’m here to help you navigate being a significant other to a parner who is a survivor of sexual assault.

As a sexual assault survivor who also spends her nights switching between bumble and tinder, I often think about the moment that I may have to tell my next partner about my triggers and why I have them. (For some sexual assault survivors, that moment of talking to a partner about their story may never need to come and that’s okay too.) I also think about all the many things I wish my past partners knew about dating someone who is a sexual assault survivor. So, buckle up as I tell you what I wish someone would have told my past partners.

First things first, if your partner decided to tell you they are a survivor of sexual assault, chances are they pretty comfortable with you and confident that you will be a source of comfort rather than hurt. So, let’s dive into how you be the comfort instead of the hurt.

For one, don’t make things about you. For example, if your partner tells you that they don’t want to be touched in the moment or at any moment because of their PTSD triggers, then understand, honor and support them rather than berate them with questions like “Why don’t you love me? Am I not enough for you? A significant other should be able to/want to hold their partner right?” No survivor wants to be belittled or invalidated when they are seeking support. Sometimes, we will want to hold you and kiss you and let you hold us and kiss us, but other

times… we may not want any of that. Now, if you are lingering on the mention of PTSD still, let’s talk about it.

When most people think about PTSD, they think about people who have been through trauma in the military. While military PTSD makes up about 50% of recorded PTSD, sexual assault survivors who report PTSD make up 30% which is a significant amount. Now let’s break down the acronym. PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and it happens after someone has gone through a traumatic event. Remember, trauma is self-defined. So even though you may have not gotten trauma from a certain event, a different person might have and could be experiencing PTSD. What does PTSD even look like?

Here are some symptoms of PTSD that you should be aware of:

· Depression

· Anxiety

· Flashbacks or hyper-reactivity to stimulus like sounds or colors that reminds them of the trauma

· Intrusive symptoms like random thoughts which will drastically change their demeanor

· Avoidance of thoughts or things that remind the person of the trauma

· Hyper-sensitivity and easily triggered feelings

· Detrimental impact on their ability to function day-to-day Source:

Your partner may experience all those symptoms or just some of those symptoms, there’s really no formula to follow.

Now let’s get back to talking about how to be a good significant other.

If your partner has disclosed their story of what happened to them, it’s SO important that you don’t probe or ask intrusive questions. For example, don’t ask things like “were you drinking” or “how many times did you say no” because those questions appear invalidating and imply victim blaming. Also, don’t tell them things they could have done better or what you would have done in the situation. Again, it’s not about you so stop.

Remember to be patient and to be loving. Recovering from trauma and learning to cope with PTSD is a journey and your significant other is going through it. Be there to listen. If they don’t want to talk, then just be there. For me, my trauma felt

like a broken bone that I only I could see and feel. And just like with a broken bone, I need to patient as it began healing. Don’t rush your partner. Be patient.

Don’t be scared of your significant other. Yes, dating someone who has survived a sexual assault can be different than dating someone who hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean you should love them any else. Love your significant other and remind them they are loved and worth it.

Now go comfort them however they need to be comforted and go back to watching Hannah Montana.


Education as Feminism (Nat Repinski)

Whenever I think about Feminism and the different aspects that go into this larger whole, I always think back to education. My first reading about feminism was a section of bell hooks’ Feminist Theory; From Margin to Center my then english teacher gave to me to read. This piece of writing has been very influential to me, and I believe this is an important piece to read as a feminist. The piece that I am referring to is ‘Chapter 8: Educating Women: A Feminist Agenda,’ I think the message of feminist education and in general education for all is important to everyone.

What you must know about me is that I am a cisgender white woman, who grew up in a privileged household of two loving heterosexual parents, never had to worry about finances, went to a private catholic all-girls high school, and now in college. When I read this chapter I was 15.

With all these privileges in mind, this chapter really shook me. While bell hooks went into the nitty gritty details of education between class and race, one thing is for certain, everyone should be able to read and write. A basic right. To fix illiteracy in our nation, we must take it upon ourselves to go door to door educating women about women issues, which is what hooks proposes as one solution. I think a more 21st century way of doing this is through social media with posting and sharing feminist videos, memes, posts, anything having to do with feminist philosophy. While the internet is still a privilege to have, a lot of people still have access to it. We need to continue talk about feminism because it’s messed up that women get paid less than men, that our bodies are regulated, we are not taken as seriously, we are seen as the other, men have to deal with toxic masculinity, it is still a crime in some countries to love who you love, it is still legal in all 50 states in America to get married under the age 18, we are spending money on mensuration products and then taxed, that transgender women are still not seen as women, and overall it’s messed up that there is a stigma when we decide to express ourselves how we want to.

One reason that hooks says that being more personable with talking about feminism is because “feminist education has become institutionalized in universities via women’s studies programs.” And universities cost money, like, a lot of money. With access to the internet there are more resources that are free because there are souls out there putting them online for free. (You just have to use discretion from downloading a virus). bell hooks also writes that “value of a feminist work should not be determined by whether or not it conforms to academic standards.” I like to view this as, while it is good there are academic writings, as feminists, we are trying to lift everyone up and academic areas can be exclusionary. In addition, during the time of this writing majority of feminist scholars were bourgeois white women, and let’s be real here, if we’re gonna dismantle the oppression that is patriarchy, we need EVERYONE on board. Which means we need to know the different struggles everyone faces in order to understand it and then do something about it.

So it brings me back to my original thought, education. Everyone should get the education they want to get without obstacles of money, because it’s weird to monetize knowledge. Everyone should be able to know or learn about whatever they want. And reading about education from a feminist perspective is awesome, there is a need of a call to action because there is an injustice and this needs to be fixed. After all education is a “practice of freedom” (this is from Paulo Freire, he’s a pretty cool guy to look up).

With A Little Help From Your Friends (Janelle Johnson)

So y’all, I just got back to school. It’s been almost 20 years since I graduated high school, and I finally did it. There are so many reasons why I didn’t go to university directly after high school, but I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I feel I can be a successful student now and become a tad nostalgic. I remember how I felt in my late teens and early 20’s. The world was both exciting and scary. I was still discovering myself and there were so many new experiences to have. So, within this thought experiment I started thinking about the advice I would give to my 20-year-old self. Trust me, there was a lot of advice to choose from. Obvious things like leave that person who didn’t value me, trust myself, don’t be afraid to take up space, and quit smoking (I finally did that one a few years ago) but the thing that I feel has benefitted me the most is never underestimating the importance of a support system.

We’ve all heard the term support system before, but it’s not something that I think many of us think of our day to day lives. Support systems include our friends, family, religious communities, identity communities, online communities, structural support, and much more. Support can be broken down into four different types, and they all tie together in helping us make it through the tough times in our lives. Emotional support is the system most people are familiar with. This can be your friends, a therapist, or anyone who is there when you need to talk. These are the people who are there to listen to you and provide hope when needed. Instrumental support, sometimes referred to as tangible support, is support that provides aid and/or service. This could be financial, but oftentimes it’s not monetary. A friend coming over to help you study or cooking a meal for you is an example of Instrumental support. Informational support is advice, suggestions, or information. This can be the advice of a professor, mentor, or doctor. It also can be Resource centers on campus, books, or online communities. The final type of support is Appraisal support. These supporters are your cheerleaders. They are there to give you information that is useful for self-evaluation. You know, the friend who tells you that that person you are dating isn’t worth it or reminds you how beautiful and smart you are. Their advice may not always be exactly what you want to hear, but it’s necessary to help you course correct sometimes.

We need healthy support systems throughout our entire lives. Research shows that healthy support systems can help with everything from mental health, student success, even physical health outcomes. And people without a healthy support system tend to fare worse when it comes to those same areas. But how does one build a support structure especially those of us that are away from our families and friends? It can be difficult to connect with people in a meaningful way and knowing who to rely on can be iffy as well. Also, introverts, I see you, and I know how talking to someone new can be the last thing you want to do.

Here is where I insert my shameless plug for the Women’s Resource Center. We are here to help. First, we are open 9-6 Monday-Friday. We have a chill environment with comfy couches, snacks, and Netflix. You can connect with others or just hang out solo. We can help connect you with resources for different types of support. I also recommend just trying to connect. The older I get, the more I realize that we are all a little socially awkward. Putting yourself out there can be scary and downright difficult for some people, but the more you practice the easier it gets. My New Year’s resolution this year was to focus on connection with people. I made it a point to reach out to people I found interesting. I strike up a conversation and see where it goes. Since starting this project, my world has opened up a ton. Besides a bunch of new acquaintances, I’ve met a few close friends this year, and even scored a job from one of my connections. There have been a few situations that were less than ideal,but I remember, not everyone is for everyone. The key is not to take rejection seriously, which like talking to new people is a skill perfected with practice.

You may find that as you enter new phases of your life your support system may change. Sometimes things naturally change, and sometimes there is a falling out or ‘friend breakup’. From my experience breaking up with friends hurts way more than a breakup of a romantic relationship. Know that this will happen, and it’s natural. And you will utilize other members of your support system to get through it. Don’t let this harden your heart to engaging with others. Know that we learn something from everyone we encounter, and you will be better from those lessons. Relationships are a two-way street, so ensure you are there for the people who are there for you. Remember to ask for help when you need it. No one is an island, and you can’t do everything by yourself. Whether it is a listening ear, or that person to bring soup over when you’re feeling ill, having a strong support system will make life so much easier overall.

Ps. In the spirit of building community, we we will be holding our first Feminist Monthly Meetup on October 23 from 4pm-6pm at the Women’s Resouce Center- Union W93. The event topic is Fast Friends, and we’ll be doing a speed dating event for friendship! Come hang out and possibly meet your new support structure! 🙂

Feminist Theory is for Everybody (Gurkirat Sekhon)

“What is your experience with feminist theory?” A professor asked this question as part of an introductory survey for this course I’m taking, WGS 710: Advanced Feminist Theory. I thought this was an interesting way to phrase this question because I think that it intends to ask about coursework and other readings about what looks to be a very high brow academic topic. The word “theory” is a pretty scary word after all: people who “do” theory tend to think about really abstract, intangible ideas and tend to write in a register made for other academic elites. But I wonder, too, how feminist that practice is: it makes me ask who feminism is for and who theory ought to be for. The question, however, is asking about my experience, a very personal thing. Like anyone else, I am a product of my experiences. It asks about who I am in relation to this personal, political thing. It doesn’t really define feminist theory, but it connects it to my experience.

So what is feminism or feminist theory? bell hooks, a famous Black feminist, defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” in her book, Feminism is for Everybody. The Combahee River Collective, a prominent group of Black feminists from the late ‘70s, define feminism as “a politics, movement, political analysis, and practice used to struggle against women’s oppression” (“A Black Feminist Statement”). A feminist academic, Donna Haraway, defines feminism as “a politics defined by fields of contestation and repeated refusals of master theories” (“‘Gender’ for a Marxist…”). Kimberle Crenshaw, following a Black feminist tradition, famously calls for an intersectional approach to thinking about feminism, an approach that considers how different parts of a person’s identity interact with one another and inform how one moves in the world, focusing specifically on connections between racism and sexism (“Mapping the Margins…”).

And who am I? I am a queer, crazy, colored man and scholar. It’s really important to think about what this all means and what it has to do with feminism. As queer, crazy, and colored, I know a few margins: I live in a world built for straight, sane, white men. I live in a world that asks me to be like those people for whom professional culture is built. I am asked to be like these people to prove that I am worthy of making money. I am asked to discipline my margins and use the privileges I have to do so. As Crenshaw suggests, my margins and my privileges touch one another: I am all of these parts at once, so the way people think about me and the way I think of myself is informed by all of these things at once. Some parts are more visible than others; some parts are enacted as opposed to just being things people register about me by just looking at me. But again, all of these parts comprise how I am made and how I make myself.

Because feminism, by the definitions above, begins with combatting sexism and moves to consider other struggles and their connections with sexism, I, even as a man, am included in a feminist agenda. By fighting alongside womxn, I am fighting alongside friends who value my struggle too, who see my struggle as part of their struggle. I am implicated in a politics of compassion, one which seeks to affirm everyone and challenge those hurtful systems like racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and classism. Feminist theory, to me, is a way of naming and contesting those hurtful systems. It mobilizes and analyzes personal experiences to think and rethink about how these systems work and how we can combat them.

My feminist practice, then, needs to look like being a good friend: I need to listen to affirm experiences. I need to think through solutions with my friends by considering ways to leverage my male privilege. I need to consider my margins as tools of compassion, as things that help me care for and relate to others. As a young scholar coming into academia, I need to keep my academic privilege in check: I need to keep my feminist theory and practice grounded in all kinds of experiences.

Works Cited

Collective, Combahee River. ‘A Black Feminist Statement’. na, 1977.

Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color.” Stan. L. Rev. 43 (1990): 1241.

Haraway, Donna J. ““Gender” for a Marxist dictionary: the sexual politics of a word.” Women, Gender, Religion: A Reader. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2001. 49-75.

hooks, Bell. Feminism is for everybody: Passionate politics. Pluto Press, 2000.

Being a Pre-med student and Learning to Let Go

Trying to think of a best way to start this blog but here it goes.. I guess for being a pre-med student you’re constantly trying to keep it together. With academics, research, volunteering, work and other extracurricular activities, it can be overwhelming sometimes. Especially when it’s your final year in undergrad and now you’re constantly worried about passing your courses and what your plans are for after graduation.

I’m currently a Biomedical Sciences major and I’m in the Medical Laboratory Sciences program at UWM. I’m actually doing my clinicals at Columbia St. Mary’s hospital in Milwaukee. It’s been pretty exciting and the staff are pretty nice (I especially liked my phlebotomy rotation, when I saw all the newborns in the NICU). I just hate the part when I have to study for my rotation exams.. I’m also apart of the WiscAMP-STEM Inspire program and it’s great. It’s helped me to get out of my comfort zone in the STEM field and it consists of library nights( once or twice a month), conferences, events, and faculty/peer mentor meetings. Also I am currently doing research with the Support for undergraduate research fellows program with Dr. Campos-Castillo. I currently participate in two projects in her lab.


Finally I work at the Women’s Resource Center as one of the Marketing Coordinators! I started working at the Center since the end of August. Working at the Women’s Resource Center has helped me to expand so much in my writing (with blogging of course). But the fact that this Center offers valuable resources to students is incredible. I think the hardest thing for pre-med students is deciding when to let go. I’ve realized that I’m not a robot and I can’t do everything all at once. I’ve realized that since I haven’t had the time to do more in the center, that it’s time for me to let go and focus on clinicals and have dedicated self care. It’s important to realize that whatever you go for, you make sure you get whatever you need to be better. I really wanted my leadership to grow in the WRC but with everything going on with clinicals, research, academics and other extra-curricular activities, I knew it was time to step down. But now after working here for about 4 months, I know what I need to work on so that I can be great in my career. I knew that public speaking was something that I wanted to improve on but having the table talk sessions during the staff meetings helped. I guess even with staff meetings, I currently can’t attend because of clinicals.

With that being said I hope I’ll have more time to take care of myself and prioritize for spring 2019! I guess I can focus on finishing my last semester strong and focus on what is my next step after graduation. It’s been real and I learned a lot from this experience! Wishing good luck to the next blogger and passing on the keys (I didn’t want to say a baton because with writing blogs, you need a keyboard lol) Take care everyone!

Eating Disorders

I guess in today’s world, it seems that there can be a lot of expectations for what a woman should look like and there is such a pressure to fit into this “ideal shape”. Sometimes social media doesn’t make it any easier. According to the NIH, eating disorders are a lifestyle choice and there are serious and fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to an individual’s eating behavior. Common eating disorders in the U.S include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Growing up, I feel for the most part I was an okay child. What I mean by that is that I tried to follow my parents’ rules, do my homework, clean my room etc. But during my early teen years, I did have insecurities about my body. I remember when I wanted to grab some icecream out of the fridge and my grandmother would always make a comment on how I’m eating too much and that I’m gaining weight. But at the moment I just wanted some icecream! Lol I remember I wrote in my journal that day just feeling horrible about my weight. I would say I had a decent diet when I was younger but I really really loved food. Like on certain Sundays my family would go to a Chinese buffet and I would have just 4 plates of food back to back to back. I really had room for an appetite. And then of course I would go home and go right to bed.

I look back and I remember I sometimes felt left out in my highschool friend group because it just seemed like they were all slim. And I remember when they would exchange jeans and outfits and for me I have long legs but I hated my thighs. I just hated them. To me they felt so humongous but I probably was just being sooo insecure and over exaggerating. I feel like in society there is always this pressure for women especially to stay a certain size.

There was a time in highschool where I started to eat very small portions of food. Especially like rice and chicken, I would probably put it in my mouth but not swallow it because I was obsessed with calorie intake. I also remember not drinking juice for a long time (even though I really love juice). There’s a photo that I took with my cousin at her highschool graduation where I looked like I lost a lot of weight (I’m not sure if I still have the photo). I realized that I was getting skinnier but it was hard to see myself like that. It was then that I realized that I needed to stop restricting myself from food and just eat my regular portions again. When I saw the photo it just didn’t seem like myself. A lot of the times the media can influence our eating decisions but sometimes it can even be family or friends.

A disorder like Anorexia nervosa is described as the strong desire to be thin which leads to restriction of food. A lot of people with anorexia look at themselves as overweight but may even be underweight. There are times people would want to exercise a lot to force themselves to vomit or may even take frequent laxatives.

According to the national eating disorders website, Bulimia nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and self-induced vomiting. Some diagnostic criteria include eating a large portion amount of food within a 2 hour frame, a portion that is larger than most people would eat in a similar time frame.Warning signs include fear of eating in public, hides body with baggy clothes, extreme mood swings, teeth are discolored or stained. Warning signs of binge eating disorders include eating much rapidly than normal, eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry, and eating until extremely full.

The big thing to take away from this blog post is that we all need to embrace our bodies! Love your curves! Don’t let anyone make you feel small for the way you look like. If they do, then they suck. I don’t want to say the usual “go on a diet” if you feel like you want to lose weight, but any opportunity to stay healthy like replacing pop with water or instead of watching tv, going for a walk is a way to go.




Getting over the Winter Blues

Alright so it’s pretty much winter. Once I notice a hint of snow on the ground, I automatically think it’s winter. Not really one of my favorite seasons. It’s just that season where I always say that I’m moving to someplace warm but I’m always still here in the good’ol midwest. I mean yea I pretty much grew up in Minnesota, so I should be used to it now. But it’s just too cold! Always got to be safe while driving in the snow, not in the mood to get out and have fun, always feeling cold even when I’m wearing like 3 jackets, my hair dries up and I always have to moisturize (not to mention I have to constantly lotion my hands because they get dry too). Lastly, I tend to get a little depressed during the winter. According to the Mayo Clinic, the “winter blues” is actually a kind of depression called seasonal affective disorder. I guess my personality just likes the sun too much. But on a serious note, having less daylight leads to our brains producing less mood-enhancing serotonin. This means that it’s producing more sleep-promoting serotonin. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder includes overeating, loss of energy, sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating and social withdrawal.

I really think it’s important to stay positive during the winter season. Even though for me I know it can be hard to be joyous around this time. Having a nice cup of hot tea helps me relieve some stress and I heard green tea can even help lose weight. When I watching an episode of “The Real” I heard that ginger tea can help with menstrual cramps. Ginger tea works for me sometimes but I usually end up just taking ibuprofen anyway. There’s also this apple cinnamon tea that I get from Whole Foods and it’s really good. It’s probably one of my favorites.

Listening to music is so therapeutic!!! whatever that suits your soul go with it! For me I really like hiphop/pop, R&B and gospel music. I usually listen to classical music when I study. I use pandora usually when studying and with the classical music station. And then I use Apple Music to listen my hiphop, pop, R&B and gospel tunes especially when I exercise.

I can’t stress this enough but TALK TO YOUR FAMILY. Your family knows you better than anyone else on this planet (I hope). And I guess I heard that listening to your parent’s voice can help lower anxiety. At first I found this hard to believe because when I talk to my mom she usually has something to say on whether I should do this or not do this or tell me something that I already know because in her mind I’m still her little girl lol. But really there are days when I just want to hear my mom’s voice after a long hectic day. I feel like no matter how old I am I’ll still always appreciate my parents. My dad still spoils me because I’m his only daughter so I’m lucky. Me and my brother are really close. I usually like to talk to him on Sundays just to see what he’s up to. I also still annoy him even though we’re miles apart. I always cherish the holidays because I really get to annoy all 3 of my brothers and boss them around.

This might be a stretch, but go outside and take a 20 minute walk to catch some sunlight. I was reading an article and I guess it can really uplift your mood. I guess there is really no substitute for natural light. I mean as a college student you’re probably already used to walking to classes in the cold air, so even walking towards the class and walking away from the class may count for your 20 minute walk. It could even be walking towards your job or even the grocery store. Just make sure there is some sun out! I usually walk to my clinical site in the morning and afternoon so it’s beneficial.

Another great tip that comes to mind is that you should try to stay social! Try to make plans with your friends and family on a regular basis. Especially with thanksgiving coming up, “Friendsgiving” has been popular for a long time so if you plan to have an intimate small group of people that you know, have someone designated for assigning who will bring the certain types of meals or people can pitch in what they like to make. Or it may even be a large group of people. Just make sure that everyone can contribute somehow.

As always, thanks for reading my blog post and I hope you can knock out the winter blues effectively with these tips!

How to Moisturize Hair during the Cold Weather Season

I guess for starters, knowing your hair type is important (super important). For my 4c hair especially it just doesn’t like the cold weather at all. It sheds especially when it’s dry. I also tend to braid my hair a lot during the cold season and braiding really helps my hair grow. I usually buy braiding sprays that help with sensitive scalps and I have one that has this mint effect. It’s called the Parnevu T-Tree braid spray (good price on amazon).

Wash days are the best days!!! I usually wash my hair twice with shampoo and once with conditioner. The brand that I’m currently using is called Maui Moisture. Specifically, the one I use has shea butter and it’s supposed to heal and hydrate for dry hair. But for the conditioner part, I usually like to deep condition my hair. So, I would apply my conditioner to my hair, leave it on for 10 minutes and put on a shower cap. Then I would rinse my hair and apply Argan oil.

Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, helps combat dryness and softens the hair. It’s non-greasy and can also be used as a skin moisturizer as well. The brand that I currently like to use is the creme of nature brand. I usually like to get it from Sally’s Beauty.

Instead of argan oil, there are other oils that can work like coconut oil. It moisturizes hair strands, stimulates hair growth, adds shine and luster to hair, promotes scalp health and repairs damaged hair. It is rich in antioxidants, has antibacterial properties to improve scalp health. Wow I was looking through some articles on the web and I think I’m going to use coconut oil more often. I used to use this shampoo and conditioner set called Ogx nourishing milk that I used to get from Walgreens. It’s a great product but I wanted to try something with shea butter which is the reason why I switched to the brand that I’m using now. Speaking of shea butter, it can be a sealant to keep moisture and softness for curly and coarse hair. It also prevents hair breakage and reduces scalp irritation (oh that is wonderful). And my favorite thing about shea butter is the smell. Compared to organ oil and coconut oil, I really like the smell of shea butter for some reason.


A product that I have in mind when I think of “hair products that smell good” would be Cantu products! I sometimes use the shea butter leave in-conditioner when my hair is super dry and irritated. I also use the coconut oil and shine mist moisturizing spray for my scalp too. What I love about the Cantu line is that there are a variety of products that aim specifically for your hair needs. The Cantu brand is sold in a lot of stores and is really popular.

This is a new thing that I’ve started recently but I like to spray my hair with rosewater. Rosewater is known to really hydrate the hair and promotes hair growth, conditions hair, reduces scalp inflammation, gets rid of dandruff, reduces oiliness, reduces hair loss and also reduces product buildup on your scalp. Brands like Mario Badescu and Heritage Store Rosewater are good brands for a low price. You can find them online or in stores. Rosewater can also be used on the face as a face mist! So it’s like killing two birds with one stone.



Tea tree oil can help with itchiness and inflammation and is proven to have antimicrobial properties. It really helps to soothe the scalp and can help with people who have psoriasis. Tea tree oil is a common ingredient in most shampoos and conditioners. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree oil special shampoo is a good brand and it’s sold at Ulta beauty. The Hollywood Beauty tea tree oil is a brand that I use for my scalp and I got mine at Walmart for a low price. This is a nice product to have as well because it’s a travel sized bottle and you can take it on the go!


Jamaican Castor oil has moisturizing and antibacterial properties! It can also treat problems such as itchiness and dandruff. It can treat split ends, strengthens hair and eliminates dryness. I remember there was a time I really wanted to grow out my hair so that it can grow healthier and evenly and this product is good! I noticed great results in less than a month. The oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids and is rich in vitamin E. This can also be used for acne, signs of aging, heal scars, treat infections and relieves muscle and joint pains.


Thankyou everyone for reading! There are probably thousands of products out there that I didn’t mention but the trick is if there is progress with the results that you want for your hair then it’s probably a good fit for you. Also YouTube is a great place to see what other people have said about the product! Also check out peer reviews from the web as well.

Self Care


As a college student it can be so stressful when trying to balance school, work, volunteering and research. It’s like your days are so busy that you dread leaving your bed every morning and once you lay in bed, it’s the best feeling in the world. For me, I’m personally not a big fan of 8ams and Friday classes. I remember when I had a semester when I had no Friday classes, I enjoyed not having to worry about touching my alarm and slept so peacefully. According to psych central, self care is an activity that we do in order to take care of ourselves. Ever since I’ve been in college I’ve heard multiple times how it’s important to practice self care but actually I find it hard for myself to actually do that on a regular basis because I feel like there is always something to be done. Even when I’m doing an activity that involves self care, in my head I’m like “I should be reading those PowerPoint slides for class or start studying for an exam”.

As an adult, the thought of “self care” may be an award or maybe part of our daily routine. As I get older I try to implement as much exercise as I can into my lifestyle. Usually on Saturday mornings I like to be at the gym and do cardio. Running on the track is a new thing that I’ve added to my gym routine (which brings me back to my track days in highschool). It’s definitely a great stress reliever for me. I remember my sophomore year in college, I decided to take a yoga course. I actually thought that it would be a pretty easy workout. But nope, I really began to hate the downward facing dog pose. We did it so many times in class that every time I hear the name of the pose my head hurts. However, by the end of each yoga session, I felt like my whole body was stretched and felt somewhat rejuvenated. I really liked the part when we would just lay on the ground and the whole room would be silent so that we could listen to our breathing.  It helped me to just think about what I was doing in the moment and not think about other things going on around me.


Another thing that I like to do for self-care is going for walks. In the summer time, I remember I would usually walk to the grocery to pick up some food items but walking outside allowed me to enjoy the moment and to just focus on my breathing. I also like to walk by the lake sometimes and to just stare at the waves. It’s very relaxing and soothing by visually hearing and seeing the waves.


An activity that I absolutely enjoy (especially during the winter, because it’s indoors) is Zumba. I usually go to the Klotsche center every other Thursday to attend a Zumba class and it is pretty active! I don’t have a favorite trainer but I enjoy the music selection for the dance routines. It’s even super exciting when you go with friends because then everyone can just be embarrassed together when you can’t roll your hips a certain way or shake ass.

Biking close by the lake is also my fave. The last time when I went with a friend he played all my favorite songs on his phone and it was a great way to end the summer before we went back to school. I held a huge snake that day because a man at the park decided to bring his pet snake to the park. I held the snake, took my photo, gave back the snake and continued biking like nothing just happened.

One thing currently that I’m into is oil diffusers! My mom bought a whole bunch around the house and decided to send me one from amazon and it’s pretty nice.  It’s called art naturals. The oil diffuser that I currently use came with 8 different oils. Each oil has a particular way for helping you relax. My favorite so far is peppermint and lavender. The lavender scent helps me to wind down after a long, hectic day and peppermint helps me to focus on homework and gives me a “spa” like vibe. I also like the fact that it lights up in a different range of colors which makes it so much cooler (haha I sound like I’m five). What’s also nice about it is that when it’s done, it automatically shuts off and you can set it to run for an hour or even 3 hours.

Here’s everyone’s favorite….”NETFLIX AND CHILL”. Okay really what I mean is putting on your favorite facial mask and watching a movie or series that you love when you have that time to just decompress. Right now I’m on season 10 on grey’s anatomy (very addicting, it reminds me of when I binged watched Scandal because it was so GOOD! P.S. SHONDA RHIMES IS AWESOMEEEE IDC IDC IDC”. I also used to watch the office on Netflix and it was hilarious, Dwight was my favorite character. He had no chill. Lol

There is probably tons of activities that I didn’t mention for practicing self-care but the common denominator in pretty much everything I wrote about is that it’s important to find your happiness right now. Not with getting through the week, a job, a relationship, a new environment. Find it right now! (saw a post on Instagram and it spoke to me). I know sometimes for me I think that graduation or getting a boyfriend would make me so much happier in life but really finding your joy in the little things can be so rewarding! I’m not saying it’s horrible to have milestones, but it’s awesome to know that no matter where you are in life, you are the only one who can decide what makes you happy. As I’m writing right now I just realized that I never process how I happy I am at a moment, I just go through it and maybe I’m more worried about putting something on snap or my Instagram story. I’m planning to challenge myself to embrace my happiness more and actually process it. I definitely need to spend less time on my phone. I actually get a notification now on how much time I spend on my phone and what apps I use regularly. Such a cool feature because now I can really push myself to be on my phone less often. But the main point is that you should go grab your happiness !!!!!!!!!!