Cortland Hill goes to Bangladesh

This past Wintermester as a Nevada Senior, I took a three-week trip to Bangladesh with my CHS 494 class, Field Studies in Public Health. The class teaches students the importance of culture, education, and inclusion through hands-on experience. In other words, we got the chance to test tube wells for arsenic contamination and create clean drinking water!

This was the town we explored during our breaks from testing the water.

This was the town we explored during our breaks from testing the water.

The trip was a huge culture shock for me from my first step off of the plane. For one thing there was no kind of variety like in America. Everyone there looked the same. Bangladesh is a Muslim country with the highest population density in the world. And most of all, it has a year-round tropic-jungle climate! The natives in Bangladesh were extremely hospitable to me and my classmates. Once they found out our reason for going to Bangladesh they became curious and began to befriend us. We could see how excited they were to receive the help we were offering.

This was one of the nights we hung out with the Bengali children. They were so happy.

This was one of the nights we hung out with the Bengali children. They were so happy.

While testing the wells the class would also check villagers for Melanosis and Keratosis, which are early detections of skin cancer. The results for most people were negative, but quite a few elderly people suffered from the disorders. One of them may have already had skin cancer.  For the most part, doing the work to get the results went great for my class, but it was overwhelming to see people suffering and struggling physically all because of tainted water.

In this photo you see one of my classmates, Sierra Estrada, our professor, and myself at the testing site where we checked villagers for skin cancer.

In this photo you see my classmates, Sierra Estrada and Kelli Ducker, and myself at the testing site where we checked villagers for skin cancer.

Throughout the trip, after the long days of working in the field surveying villagers and testing wells, I played new games and saw the best sights Bangladesh had to offer! I ran into numerous amounts of Bengali people and their children. There was one family in particular, which had a 6 year old girl with one dark brown eye and one ocean blue eye; it was absolutely spectacular. My classmates and I were able to attend several Muslim festivals in which the Bengalis promote their Islamic culture amongst themselves and have a great time.

Here is the 6-year-old girl who has one blue eye and one brown one. Her dad had the same eyes.

Here is the 6-year-old girl who has one blue eye and one brown one. Her dad had the same eyes.

The class was always equipped with at least 2 translators everywhere we went in order to keep us safe and sound. There were several times when the natives went overboard as far as the class’ privacy, and if it was not for the translators, being able to protect us and get us out of the sticky situation, we may have been in a lot of trouble.

Overall, I had a blast in Bangladesh and was more than grateful that I could go clear across the world to help with such a good cause! I came back to America with a new state of mind. I used to take things for granted, little, as well as big. America may not be perfect, but in some respects it’s a great country, and our government at least attempts to take care of us unlike Bangladesh whose government is extremely corrupt and deceptive towards their own people. Bangladesh is a beautiful place with a lot of potential. I will forever be thankful I had the opportunity to be selfless and help another country!

A Thousand Dreams in a College Mind- Joey Aisa

ffhfhf Engraved within every child’s heart is a scripture of a thousand dreams. Labels we want to carry, things we want to be. As a child, you remember the words whispered by your parents, “You can be anything, kiddo”. Anything. I was five years old when they gave those words to me. Seasons passed and suddenly I was sitting by the window of my room, trying to breathe in what was left of my childhood before I had to pack it all away and board a plane. College is such an exciting adventure, until you see tears run down the faces of your parents and siblings. I remember standing in the middle of an airport, embracing my family until my arms went weak. Leaving home can destroy you a little.

I was initially a freshmen biology major, the typical pre-med. But as I met brilliant people who inspired me, my interests constantly changed. It’s exhausting when you lose yourself. It’s a constant beginning and ending, but the best life stories come from that. Medical school was still in the crevices of my mind, but my interests began to flourish into sociology, psychology, French and my fingers were still fascinated by piano keys. It seems as though the world expects you to devote yourself to one dream, yet I had a million that I refused to let go of. Then one day, someone asked me a question that ironically answered my doubts.

“What do you want to be? What made you interested in the medical field?”

“My mother… My mother has been battling depression since I was a little girl. I would always tend to her, read books I was too young to understand, and play doctor. As I grew older it was no longer a matter of playing doctor, but becoming one. To save and help people like her.”

That night, I declared Neuroscience as my major and sociology as my minor (my sociology professor became my mentor!). I aspire to help people see the correlation between biology, psychology and sociology and make a breakthrough in the future. The medical field has somewhat forgotten to look at patients as people. They are more than a structure of cells and case studies.

ghytMany of my fellow pre-med classmates thought of my sociology interest as a weakness. Wisdom that I have grasped through my wonderful advisers is this: do not become typical. Do not give up your interests to bore yourself with what they find suitable. Your major does not define your value. The brilliant cannot be categorized under one label.
My name is Joey Aisa. I am a student who is constantly fascinated; a soon-to-be doctor who also plays piano and speaks French. If there is any simple advice I can pass onto you, it would be this. When your mind is troubled, you miss home, you’ve experienced a break up, or you lose sight of your own aspirations, grab a cup of coffee and sit by the lake at sunset. Remember the way your family smiled at you. Remember your dream. In a world with people who only see black and white, show them the gray, always.

Service: Our Motto, and Our Purpose. – Anthony Dionisi

“Culture for Service, and Service for Humanity.” Brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity are expected to know this, since we pride ourselves on the history of our organization, but how often do we think of what it really means to us? When choosing a potential member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, one of the most interesting things to look at is what he has done for his community. Not only is it interesting to us all, but also it tells us a lot about the person he is, and who he aspires to be.

PBS2Phi Beta Sigma came to the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007 and was chartered March 18th, 2010. Since then, Phi Beta Sigma has viewed service as giving back to our community and we intend to do that every semester. We have started an annual event called Stroll for Tots, Reno’s first and only stroll competition, where all of the money and toys we raise go to the local Reno Toys for Tots foundation. We sponsor different events on campus and hold forums to inform the public and raise awareness of important issues. This semester we intend to hold forums and create a tunnel of oppression for Black History Month, among many things.

PBSI know how important the principle of service is for our organization and every year, we get better and better at showing it. With great aspirations comes great responsibility and with that great responsibility comes a man, but not just any ordinary man. This man holds himself accountable and does not make excuses. He lives by the principles and motto of service. As a gentleman of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, it is my duty to uphold these standards.

Preparing for Costa Rica! -Center Student Worker, Kalynn

This spring 2013, I will be studying abroad in San Ramon, Costa Rica, through the USAC study abroad program. I will be in Costa Rica for five whole months! I am so excited to leave and find out what this semester-long journey has in store for me. I have always been an extremely outgoing person and I grew up with very encouraging parents, so when I heard about the study abroad program at UNR, I immediately hopped on it.

Preparing to go to Costa Rica has been a journey in itself. I have been getting ready for my trip since the last year. There is so much stuff that has to be done in order to safely study abroad. You have to get a passport, a visa, the proper immunizations, register with the US Embassy, and much more. My family has been supportive of my decision to go abroad since day one and I think that made it a lot easier for me, because I knew that I did not have to go through any of this by myself.

When I get to Costa Rica, I will be living with a host family, a traditional Costa Rican family, for my duration in San Ramon. I have not yet found out who my host family is, but I am so excited to know!! I always wonder what they will be like. Do they have kids around my age? Will they be friendly? Will they speak any English?! The questions never end! One thing that I am most excited to experience is the food! I am so interested to see what a traditional Costa Rican meal consists of.
Since I have not left yet, I am just filled with so many questions about what my experience there will be like. Once I get down there and get settled in I will be sure to keep The Center updated on my study abroad journey!

My Love for Criminal Justice -JP Estrada

Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to do something in Law Enforcement. It has always fascinated me. I don’t know why or even how I came to liking it. Once I became a senior in high school and it was time to send out those college applications, I already knew what my major was going to be: Criminal Justice.

I have been a criminal justice major for almost two years now, and every day I love it more and more. Criminal Justice is so intriguing and in my opinion, the most interesting subject ever. Everyday, I go to my classes with a smile on my face and joy in my step. I can never get enough learning about laws, different policing methods, etc.

In my opinion, Criminal Justice is the best subject ever! I can go on and on about it, but words alone are not enough to describe my passion. I can’t wait to graduate with my diploma and be able to work in my field!

Meeting Michelle – R.J. Lopez

It was a cloudy Sunday afternoon in Reno, Nevada when I received a call from a number I had never seen before. Deciding to answer, thankfully, to my surprise was a member of the Obama for America campaign. Thinking it was another political strategy call, she informed me that First Lady Michelle Obama was coming to the University of Nevada, Reno campus and I was chosen to represent the undergraduate students and meet her before she began her speech! After a few seconds of speechlessness, I humbly accepted the opportunity.

Soon, it was Wednesday, October 3, 2012 and I was waiting back stage for First Lady Michelle Obama. Anxious with butterflies, I watched as her elegancy walked up the stairs towards me. As she came closer to me, it was if I were in a cinematic movie and time had slowed down around me. Before I knew it, I was staring the First Lady of the United States in the eye, admiring her presence.

 Hoping not to muddle my words, I began to explain my position within the University of Nevada, Reno and how I will be graduating next May. The warmth and sincere interest she portrayed was an image I will never forget. Before I could finish my admiration of her and how we, the undergraduate students of Nevada, were so thankful for her coming, she stopped me mid-sentence. She took my hand and placed it in hers and said, “RJ, I am so proud of you. Barack is so proud of you. We are fighting for you and you are the future of this nation.” As if meeting Michelle Obama was not enough, to hear those words from her was an indescribable feeling.

Before she left for her speech, her final words to me were, “RJ, don’t let me down.” I will herald those words and will forever remember the message she imprinted in my heart.

From Center Biggest Loser to St. George Marathon- Jody Lykes

Two summers ago, when The Center staff decided to become health conscious, I had no idea it would turn out this way. We began the summer eating healthy and working out. After a month or two of the competition, the true competitiveness of The Center began to surface. We had all shed some pounds and began trading secrets about different diets and workouts. My food favorite was eating a grapefruit a day together. We all tried brutal workouts like P90X, Insanity, and Jillian Michaels. Then one day someone said, “You should try running”.

I have horrible knees, but having lost about 25 lbs. I decided to give it a try. I became addicted. I ran the Turkey Trot 10K, Golden Gate ½ Marathon, and Color Me Rad 5K. For this past year, I have run anywhere from 25-36 miles a week and it is not uncommon to see me making the 11 mile run to work.

One day, I decided to sign up for the St. George Marathon. The St. George Marathon takes place in St. George, Utah, accepts entries from all over the world, but only 7,400 runners are selected by lottery. I was luckily accepted. Runners have to finish the over 26 mile race within six hours. On Saturday, October 6th, I finished the marathon.

It was such a peaceful and painful accomplishment. One of the best parts of this whole journey has been the early morning runs in the desert filled with ponderous moments and reflection. Thanks Center colleagues and everyone who has put up with endless conversations about supplements and running woes! The biggest thanks go to my wife and family who sacrificed all the time it took for me to be out on the road training. My family was there at the finish line and that has got to be the greatest moment during this adventure hands down.