APIDA Panel Addresses Mental Health on Campus

On Thursday, April 11th, a panel of CMC faculty and staff came together to discuss Asian mental health and identity with the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community on campus. Any other interested students, faculty, and staff were welcomed as well. Co-hosted by the Asian Pacific American Mentors (APAM) and the Berger Institute, the event was created to bring awareness to the issue, especially in light of recent events on campus. Panelists had friendly and informal discussions with attendees over dinner at the Athenaeum and then dived into more formal discussions on mental health. Topics revolved around how APIDA communities and 7C’s students respond to mental health issues, how having faculty of color on campus benefits the students, and strategies to help improve well-being. To keep track of future panels and events through the Berger Institute, follow us here. For more information on APAM, click here. For mental health resources on campus, visit the 7C’s Monsour Counseling Services site here.

Special thanks to our contributors: Anushree Belur, Courtney Chan, Wei-Chin Hwang, Michael Chen, and Gayle Lee!

Being. On Purpose. Annual Women of Color Empowerment Retreat

A group of hand-selected students gathered in sunny Lake Elsinore on April 4-7, 2019, to learn from experienced facilitators about empowerment and their authentic voice. Sponsored by the Berger Institute and Kravis Lab for Social Impact, the students spent a full weekend together in a large, beautiful lake house and took part in a series of workshops. The facilitators, who are part of the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences Institute, helped them to examine their perspectives of themselves and others, especially in light of systemic injustices. They then shifted and reframed those perspectives through self-expression and dialogue. The workshops included music, visualization, breath work, film, theater, and active discussion. Students also bonded with each other throughout the weekend through additional activities, such as cooking meals together. At the beginning of the weekend, Gemma Bulos, the Director of Kravis Lab, had encouraged the students to not only be engaged and listen to each other, but to “connect in a way that we will be able to go back and have a posse of women who are going to help each other.” The students left with not only a better understanding of how to access and use their voices for effective communication and change, but with a network of peers who have a shared empowerment.

Special thanks to our facilitators: Gemma Bulos, Susan Callendar, and Amikaeyla Gaston Proudfoot!

Health Disparities in an Era of Rising Income Inequality

Claremont McKenna College welcomed Thomas Fuller-Rowell, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Auburn University, to its campus on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, to discuss the extent of economic inequality changes in our country and the significance of these changes for public health. With a background in biochemistry, psychology, and population health sciences, Dr. Fuller-Rowell investigates differential life circumstances and health disparities. Dr. Fuller-Rowell discussed how the link between childhood disadvantage and later health problems has been increasing. This information is consistent with research showing widening gaps in life expectancy between income groups. He also discussed how unfair treatment between social classes is important to consider in health disparity research. Staying optimistic, Dr. Fuller-Rowell, stated that “it is within our reach to make positive changes in this domain” and that we can and should replicate studies, raise awareness of these issues, and monitor their impact.

In the future, he hopes to expand his research to include international contexts: “As my career evolves, I hope to take my research a little bit more international in scope and actually look at inequality in different contexts.” Given his diverse career across multiple disciplines, Dr. Fuller-Rowell also believes interdisciplinary training is essential for solving complex social problems.

For future Berger Institute events, visit our events page. To see the semester schedule for CMC Athenaeum talks, click here.

Creative Resistance: Artist and Activist Terisa Siagatonu

Art and well-being aligned in this workshop and performance with viral poet and community mental health leader Terisa Siagatonu. Known across the nation for her poetry videos, creative mental health workshops, and advocacy work, Terisa graced the Claremont Colleges with her presence on Tuesday, March 12, for an afternoon workshop, evening dinner, and open mic night with other student performers. The workshop focused on the power of healing from trauma with the unique perspective offered by Terisa’s experience as an Oceania artist and mental health clinician. After welcoming everyone into a relaxed space with a mindfulness body scan exercise, Terisa discussed the definition of trauma, who experiences it, and who we are afterward. “No one is exempt from experiencing trauma, but we do all experience it differently.” She described how trauma changes our physical makeup and how “the body is the one place that remembers trauma the most and the longest…connecting to our bodies is important for healing.” Attendees were also welcomed to participate in a free-writing activity where they wrote for a few minutes about a time they went through a fight, flight, or freeze experience. The open mic night later on featured some of Terisa’s riveting poetry, but students were also welcomed to perform their own works. This event was sponsored by the Berger Institute, CMC Asian Pacific American Mentoring Program, Pomona Asian American Resource Center, CARE, SCORE, Pacific Basin Institute, Ad Board, OID, Scripps Diversity and Inclusivity Chair, Motley Coffee House, IDAAS, Scripps Intercollegiate Feminist Center for Teaching, Research, and Engagement, and Scripps Humanities Institute.

Women in Law Panel Brings Insight and Intrigue

Aspiring law students had the opportunity to hear from powerful females in the industry on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. In an event that merged networking, insightful speakers, and a three-course meal at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, students were able to receive words of wisdom and talk conversationally with women in the field. Sponsored by the Berger Institute, the CARE (Civility, Access, Resources, and Expression) Center, and the Soll Center for Student Opportunity, the Women in Law panel consisted of a diverse group of lawyers with varying experience and backgrounds. Panelists included Immigration Attorney Meredith Brown (CMC P’22), Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) Attorney Ruth Calvillo (CMC ’11), CMC Assistant Vice President/Chief Civil Rights Officer Nyree Gray, and Disability Attorney and Berger Institute Advisory Board Member Marci Lerner Miller (CMC ’89). “We need more female lawyers,” says Nyree during the informal networking reception before the dinner and panel.

As students and panelists moved to dinner and panel speeches, Meredith, Ruth, Nyree, and Marci had the opportunity to speak more about their experience in deciding on law school, the decisions they were proud of, barriers they’ve faced, and what it has been like navigating different types of practice while balancing family life and kids. “Try to be yourself. You don’t need to always do it the way it’s always been done or how it’s been done by men,” Marci advises. Nyree had similar advice: “Law is not the most inclusive space. . .really inundate yourself in that space would be my advice. . .and really follow through.” In talking about gathering experience when you’re starting out, Ruth stated that “mentorship is so important”. She described how it gave her the experience and confidence she needed. To hear more about future events through the Berger Institute, follow our event page or contact Courtney at courtney.chen@claremontmckenna.edu.