As most of you know, I'm studying journalism in college, so I added this page for one of my classes. I will hopefully be posting articles here every so often, and branching out a little from the running and food aspects of the page. I hope you like it!

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International Women's Day Reflection

IWD PopUp Briefing 2017

It's been a few days since IWD, but I still feel all sparkly and full of sunshine from such a wonderful, empowering day. It was such a great feeling seeing, reading and sharing all the stories from journalism students all over the world, and for once I felt like my writing was truly making a difference.

I'm so happy I got the opportunity to participate in the popup, and think the effort was a complete success. I especially loved the diversity represented in the different features that everyone wrote. 

I also was amazed by how much is going on around me that I wouldn't know about if it weren't for the student journalists uncovering and telling stories! I was also especially happy that the men in my class took the project seriously and seemed excited to participate. Their support and respect is appreciated. 

I had a perfect experience writing this feature and I couldn't ask for anything more. I learned that writing about topics that I'm passionate about makes the job incredibly fun and rewarding, and even more so when the interviewee (Rachel) is passionate about her cause as well. I truly loved the assignment and the entire experience, and my excitement for journalism feels renewed!

Meet Meghan Rock - Ice Hockey

By Sophie Bolich

At just 10-years-old, a scrawny girl experienced her first taste of hockey playing a casual pick-up game on her driveway against her older brother. The breeze ruffled her hair and the pounding of the sticks on concrete echoed through the neighborhood. This was the start of something life changing.

Meghan Rock, 19, played competitive ice hockey for nine years. During her time, she played countless games on three different teams—including one of all boys. Now halfway across the country at Marquette University, Rock cannot play regularly with her old teammates; however, she says the experience left her stronger, more confident, and with a close group of lifelong friends.

Before she officially began playing, Rock’s family was already involved with ice hockey through her dad and older brother.

“Traveling to my brother’s hockey games every weekend became my life,” said Rock. “That’s when I really fell in love with the sport.”

Rock first played on a local girls’ team, though it unfortunately dispersed after only a few months. Throughout middle school, she played for West Chester Bayard Rustin Boys’ team. The only girl, Rock wore her long, blonde hair tucked into a skull cap, sometimes pulling it off after a victory, much to the surprise of the opposing team.

Eventually the rough-and-tumble playing-style of adolescent boys became too much for Rock, so in eighth grade she joined her third and final team, a girls’ ice hockey league at a nearby catholic school.

On yet another new team, Rock said she had some trouble adjusting, but eventually found her voice.

“I was very shy at first,” said Rock. “Over the years I became more comfortable with the girls, and when I was granted the position of captain my senior year, I was able to speak up more.”

At the end of her sophomore year of high school, Rock suffered a major concussion with effects lasting the majority of the following year, which didn’t involve hockey at all. During gym class, a classmate accidentally punched her in the back of the head, resulting in severe headaches, a need to re-learn reading and writing, and a doctor-ordered ban on any physical activity for six months.

“It was very hard, boring and frustrating,” said Rock. “I was spending half the day lying in a dark room with splitting headaches and couldn’t do any of my school work. You feel useless to society.”

Despite this setback, Rock said she remained dedicated to her team. Throughout her recovery, she attended every practice and game, cheering her teammates on from the bench.

Though it was difficult, Rock said the concussion taught her an important life lesson.

“I wrote about the traumatic experience of having a concussion in my college essay,” said Rock. “I think when you participate in sports, there’s no avoiding getting injured at some point, but it teaches you to overcome hurdles. I think being able to overcome and adapt to difficult situations is a lesson everyone can learn from being an athlete.”

Rock’s tough attitude and good sportsmanship during her injury had a lasting impression on her coach, Tom Petrondi.

“Meghan is the strongest player I’ve ever had,” said Petrondi, who has coached girl’s ice hockey for 20 years. “She had a great attitude and was loyal to the team. She was still on the bench every day with her concussion.”

Petrondi called Rock a “fighter,” and explained that she was shy, but still brought the team together.

“She loved the sport, loved the kids, and did what she had to do,” he said.

Rock said she enjoyed the thrill of ice hockey, but the leadership skills she learned and the friends she made will stick with her for the rest of her life.

“My favorite part of the whole experience was building relationships with people on and off the ice,” she said. “I think it’s really important to build bonds with people outside of your comfort zone.”

Rock continues to attend practice when she visits home, and expressed interest in possibly joining a women’s league after college.

"Ice hockey is a part of me that people don’t really know about,” said Rock. “You wouldn’t know I played just by looking at me, and I think that’s a really fun quality to have.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


University Student Launches Sustainable Menstrual Health Initiative for Homeless Milwaukee Women

By Sophie Bolich

Sometimes it takes traveling across the world to recognize an issue affecting your own community.

Rachel Schneider, a senior psychology major at Marquette University, was inspired to start her nonprofit for homeless women in Milwaukee, The Pad Project, while studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.

“When I was studying abroad last spring in South Africa, I was placed in a school with a mentor and teacher named Mama Zana,” said Schneider, a Bloomington, Minnesota native. “One day a girl came over and asked Mama Zana for a ‘biscuit,’ and Mama Zana went to a little desk and pulled out a pad and gave it to her, but it was all very secretive.”

Schneider and Mama Zana at Imbasa Primary School

Schneider and Mama Zana at Imbasa Primary School

A lot of the school girls don’t have access to hygiene products, and are sometimes driven to use toilet paper, cloth scraps, or old newspaper instead, she said. These alternatives are uncomfortable and can cause infections.

Mama Zana took it upon herself to help the girls by collecting and distributing pads donated by Always Feminine Products.

“[The topic of menstruation is] not very talked about in South Africa, so I thought it was really cool that Mama Zana was so ahead of the game,” said Schneider.

After returning from abroad in late June, Schneider’s service learning program continued with slight modifications.

“I now had the task of taking the social justice issues we confronted in Cape Town and applying them here in Milwaukee,” she said.

 

Schneider’s research revealed that Milwaukee and Cape Town face many of the same issues surrounding menstrual health.

“A lot of people think this is only an issue people in developing countries face, but this is something all women face,” she said. “Our periods are stigmatized. There’s so many issues surrounding it.”

Girls from Imbasa Primary School in Cape Town holding their donated pads and other hygienic supplies

Girls from Imbasa Primary School in Cape Town holding their donated pads and other hygienic supplies

Schneider’s first project was a pad donation drive in May at her high school, Academy of Holy Angels, and her roommate, Jenna Severson’s high school, Rockford High School. The drives collected 7,500 products for donation to the Imbasa Primary School. Though Schneider and Severson were still in Cape Town at the time, their school faculty and members of their family helped to organize the event.

Schneider spent the summer researching and brainstorming, and is now in the process of launching a nonprofit organization, Zana, in collaboration with Marquette University faculty members and a group of undergraduate students.

The team includes Father Nicholas Santos, a Jesuit at the university, lending his expertise in marketing, finance and business; adviser Kelsey Otero of Marquette’s Office of Research and Innovation, also specializing in marketing. Undergraduates Lexie Athis, David Dalton, Elodie Demmon, Justine Shanner and Zac Wiershem make up the rest of the TPP team.

The Pad Project team is also planning to partner with the chemistry department to implement design features using natural agents that would make the product antimicrobial, antibacterial, stain-resistant and odor-protectant. For now, Schneider says the team is busy researching size and material for the product.

Schneider opted for reusable products due to their practicality for both her business plan and the environment.

“Many other nonprofits [who use disposable products] don’t receive enough donations for women in need to make it through their period each month,” said Schneider. “This system causes the women to constantly be worrying where their next tampon or pad will come from. However, a reusable product, like the period underwear TPP is designing, lasts for up to five years.”

According to Mariah Frank, a Marquette University senior, homeless shelters are always low on underwear, because it cannot be donated used. As a result, many homeless people go without, which makes it even more difficult for women to use disposable pads, even if they have access to some.

Besides cost-effectiveness, reusable products are better for the environment. According to an article from The Guardian, “the average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons [or pads] in her lifetime.” Not only does this create tons of waste that does not decompose for centuries, but the manufacturing process of these products, using plastic, paper and cardboard, “is both resource and chemical intensive.”

“The environment holds a really special place in my heart,” said Schneider. “I’d say that’s one of the most important issues to me. Reusable products are also more cost effective. There’s really no drawbacks.”

Eventually, TPP aims to employ homeless women to produce their product.

“We [the TPP team] feel that a lot of times homeless people are provided resources, but not provided opportunities,” said Schneider. “A professor I had in South Africa told me, ‘You know you’ve done a good job when you leave and they say we did it ourselves,’ and that really stuck with me and inspired my choices.”

“The overarching goal is for menstrual health to be addressed,” she added. “I’d rather be able to provide something that can start and be carried on by women by themselves, than to just provide supplies and leave.”

TPP Branches Flowchart

TPP Branches Flowchart

A multifaceted organization, TPP’s goals are menstrual health resources for every woman in the Milwaukee community, female empowerment and ending the stigma around periods.                                                             

 “It’s so bizarre to think that something so natural, something that is the reason we’re all here on earth, is something that we don’t talk about,” said Schneider.

Though the nonprofit is just starting out, Schneider says she has big plans for the future, and is especially thankful to her original inspiration, Mama Zana.

“Right now we’re in the process of trying to get the word out,” said Schneider. “I owe it all to Mama Zana, and the amazing support that the team has received from Marquette.”