Movember: Grow a ‘stache, Donate some Cash

COLE MCNANNA // OCT. 25 2017 //

Sorry Dollar Beard Club, but I’m going to be taking this month off.

It’s about that time of year where I ditch my beard and embrace the same look my father has since he’s been in high school. I’m not looking forward to leaving my face subject to the elements with the New England weather coming up but this is more than about that 10-minute hike to the quad from the south side of campus.

For some, you kinda know what I’m getting at. For others, you may not know that Prostate Cancer runs in my family and this month I’m going to be raising funds for research that could stop my brother and me from going through the same process my father and his father went through.

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Joe (right) and his father, Raymond (left), at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newport, R.I. //image credit: Cole McNanna

It all started with a homework assignment for a public speaking class, so here’s the plug: school work can actually be beneficial sometimes (you’re welcome, professors). I was able to look into something that meant a lot to me and I found the dudes over at the Movember Foundation who have been doing some pretty cool work.

They have been sporting hairy upper lips for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness as well as Testicular and Prostate Cancer research.

But they’re doing a little more than just that. They’re helping men be confident in going to get themselves checked out for what could be a serious issue.

Most men, from day one are generally taught to be strong and to always protect the ones around them. But the Movember Foundation is trying to alter that perspective in order to protect the body they have been given.

We don’t have to be the brute strength that knocks down a door, but we can be sincere and talk about our feelings. We don’t have to just rub dirt on it, but we should be able to go have a conversation with a professional who knows what they’re talking about.

My dad doesn’t like to leave many things up to others. When it comes to work around the house, he doesn’t hire someone else. When a car has an issue, he gets on his back in the garage to see if he can fix it before talking to a mechanic. I mean, he barely even lets my brother and I help with some things because he is just has a particular way of doing things himself.

However, a doctor’s visit in the fall of 2014 changed that hard-nosed approach. He had to take a step back and evaluate all of the options and how they were going to affect the ones around him. The same way he looks at the back of the house to figure out which piece of siding needs to be changed. But my dad knew he didn’t have to go at this job alone, and he called a huddle with those closest to him.

Mitch and I had just gotten back for Thanksgiving break, he was in his junior year of undergrad at Franklin Pierce and I was fresh off my first few months at Curry, finally back home with the three other people that have been there every step of the way in my life.

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Joe with both sons; Mitchel in the middle and Cole in the air circa August 1996 // image credit: Cole McNanna

My dad started to talk about a little health scare he had and I knew this wasn’t going to be a lecture about keeping my grades up. He went on to say a lot of things and knowing my dad, I’m sure he spoke very eloquently, but honestly, I blacked out. I have no other memory than sitting on the couch and trying to listen to my dad’s words while all of these questions were swirling around my head.

What does this mean? What’s going to happen? Is he going to be okay?

After a while I came back and realized that they caught it early enough for there to be plenty of options for attack. Seemingly the best option was a surgery to remove the cancer from his body and then keep an eye on any returners.

In February of 2015, he went under robotic arms that performed the surgery while the actual Surgeon was sitting at a desk maneuvering the da Vinci System several feet away from the operating table.

Joe has made a full recovery since then and being laid up on the couch for a couple weeks allowed him the perspective to evaluate the whole house and he never missed a beat on what to get to next.

Now, he maintains his mustache just as precisely as the MG convertible that he’s also had since he’s been in high school. This month, I’ll ditch my beard and adopt the look my dad has made cool since the first second I laid eyes on him.

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Joe’s mustache and his 1978 MG Convertible have been trademarks since graduating high school in 1983 // image credit: Cole McNanna

I won’t be able to deny any claims of “Wow you guys look alike,” now that my face is literally a clone of his. I haven’t shaped my beard since the middle of June and have accustomed to fixing it in class and having it be another thing I need to pay attention to when I roll out of bed trying not to be late for class.

I love my beard and I can’t see any reason as to why all men shouldn’t have one year round. I’ve enlisted in the Dollar Beard Club to receive shipments of beard oil to keep it maintained and growing to its potential.

But for the sake of my prostate, I’m going to be picking up a razor, for at least a couple weeks, and unveil the lower half of my face for the first time since I did this thing last year.

All the while I’ll be on social media and down in the Student Center, looking for donations to help excel cancer research and the overall conversation about Men’s Health.

You don’t have to donate your life savings. At the end of the day, I’m doing this to drive the conversation about Men’s Health and the fact that nobody, no matter how long and magnificent their beard may be, should hide serious health problems in the fear that you’ll be “less of a man” if you admit them.

How’s that saying go, “it’s okay to not be okay”? Well then yeah, it’s cool to tell the world that you’ve got cancer in your testicles. It’s okay to tell the world that you’re not always happy all of the time. You’re not alone. You aren’t the only one who feels that way and it’s okay to succumb to the realization that it’s okay to not be okay.

So, if any of this resonates with you and for some reason you’re still reading this (hey Linds) head over to mobro.co/colemcnanna and take a look at what it’s all about. Any retweet share or conversation started works for me so let’s change the face of Men’s Health.

Curry College Advocates for Suicide Prevention

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO  // SEPT. 9, 2016 //

Mental health and suicide can be difficult topics to discuss, but Curry College is making strides in opening the discussion and advocating prevention ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, each year, over 42,000 Americans die by suicide, making it the 10th leading killer in the US.

Because of these troubling statistics, various organizations are taking action to alter this trend. Faculty, staff and students alike at Curry College are joining the efforts to minimize the severity of this issue.

The Curry College Counseling Center, just past the basketball courts near the library, offers a variety of counseling services, including individual, couple and group. These services also include various outreach programs like First Year Seminar visits, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, stress management, and more.

Alison Markson, the Director of the Counseling Center, is just one of the many staff members Curry College students can turn to in times of crisis. “Students come to us, sharing deeply personal stories and we talk with them about how their thoughts, feelings and behaviors may impact their overall stress levels, mood and quality of life.”

Markson added that the two most common reasons that students come to the Counseling Center involve anxiety and depression. “This is consistent with national trends at college and university based counseling centers, with anxiety ranking the number one concern.”

Students can also visit the Counseling Center for diverse reasons that include, but are not limited to, grief and loss, homesickness/adjustment to college and relationship or family issues. In addition, counselors will meet with students about mood changes, personal stressors such as finances or academics, as well as the impact(s) that trauma, drugs and alcohol may have on their lives.

“The important thing is that students discuss the issues that are important to them,” says Markson.

Out of all the advice Markson has for suicide prevention, she stressed the trust in your own instincts. “If you believe a friend is in distress, or you notice that they are exhibiting worrisome changes in behavior and/or mood, take it seriously.”

Markson recommends that if you are looking for pointers about how to approach your friend, consider talking with a counselor at the Counseling Center first. She also says that if you yourself are having a difficult time, please let someone know. A friend, an RA, a coach, a professor, advisor, etc. “There are many people out there who can help, and who care about your well-being.”

The Curry College Counseling Center is located in Smith House (up the hill from the basketball courts) and can be reached at 617-333-2182. You can contact the Counseling Center during business hours (8:30am-4:30pm, M-F).  After hours, contact the Counselor on Call via Public Safety at 617-333-2222 or the CD on Duty. They also offer anonymous mental health online screenings at http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/CURRY

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or dial 911.

Panel Arms Students with Knowledge to Combat Violence

BY JESSICA BRANDI and KEVIN DIFFILY // MARCH 11, 2013 //

Today’s students are tomorrow’s professionals, and they will carry responsibilities that extend far beyond their normal day-to-day duties.

Spurred by recent incidents of school violence around the nation, Curry College hosted an informational forum on Monday, March 4. The event, which took place in the Hafer Parents Lounge, was centered on violence in school settings. More specifically, though, the discussion sought to provide students with greater insights about how they might help prevent acts of violence during their future professional careers.

The discussion, which was both interactive and educational, gave students the opportunity to talk with professionals and academics in the areas of education, mental health, criminal justice and the media. The panel consisted of four Curry professors as well as the chief of the college’s Public Safety Department, Brian Greeley. The professors included Dorothy Alexander of the Education Department, Laura Kirsch of the Psychology Department, Jeff Lemberg of the Communication Department, and Stephanie Cappadona of the departments of Criminal Justice and Sociology. Associate Dean of Students Rachel King and Assistant Dean of Students Allison O’Connor co-hosted the event.

The recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has launched many debates and discussions about the role of guns, mental health services, the media and public safety.
The recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has launched many debates and discussions about the role of guns, mental health services, the media and public safety.

To get the discussion going, each of the panelists was asked to give advice to students on how to think about the problem of gun violence in their respected disciplines. The conversation rapidly took off with students eventually asking questions regarding their own concerns and interests. Approximately 60 students were in attendance.

Topics of discussion included the recent shootings around the nation, including in Newtown, Conn.; how schools remain a safe zone despite such shootings; the normalization of violence through video games, movies and even news media coverage; and the relationship between mental illness and school violence.

Professor Alexander began the discussion by explaining that today’s educators are relied on for far more than just teaching. “The world has changed dramatically,” she said. “Schools are not just about education anymore; they’re also about social issues, supporting kids outside and inside the classroom.”

Alexander also spoke about the need for educators to increase their skill sets and to better understand how to work with children and their families.

Cappadona and Greeley both emphasized the importance of minimizing bullying in schools, citing the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which senior Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and injured 17 others. Cho, who suffered from an anxiety disorder, had reportedly been bullied and treated poorly for most of his life at school.

It’s the responsibility of teachers and students alike to be aware of unusual behavior, and to report their suspicions to campus police in an effort to prevent future incidents, they said.

Curry has a number of safety protocols in place for emergency situations, said Greeley, who noted that he was “trained to believe everyone in a building is my son or daughter, and it is my job to protect them.” There are two sirens on campus to alert students—one on top of the radio station and one at the ARC. Curry also has six different ways to communicate with students in the event of an emergency, including email and text messages.

Junior politics and history major Jonathan Ward said he thought the panel had great timing.

“Obviously, with the Sandy Hook [Elementary School] tragedy and the assaults that have taken place on our own campus recently, something like this is great for students to speak their minds. I think it was really constructive,” he said.

In the past two months, Curry has seen two assaults occur on its campus. One of them was a sexual assault in a residence hall. In the other, a student was hospitalized after being physically assaulted by two non-students in a dispute over drugs. O’Connor said the panel discussion was not in reaction to those incidents, but rather about helping students prevent gun violence during their future careers.

Many of the panelists advised students to gain experience in multiple disciplines, instead of just the ones they’re majoring in. They emphasized the importance of understanding psychology, sociology and communication. Panelists also advised students to stay engaged, through reading, researching and learning. Everyone has the ability to contribute to the fight against school violence through greater awareness and education.

“The event was so informational,” said senior education major Kristin Hager. “I learned how to be more aware in the classroom setting, especially dealing with early education students, and feel empowered to do anything I can to ensure that this type of violence doesn’t occur in my classroom.”

Professor Kirsch and Alexander repeatedly emphasized that school shootings are uncommon, despite what many people think given the large amount of news media coverage they receive. Nonetheless, professionals should be prepared.

“It’s imperative to keep emotions and fears in check,” said Alexander, “and to prepare intellectually for an traumatic event.”

Corrin Donahue contributed to this article.

Train for Pain

BY BRENDAN CRONIN // APRIL 10, 2012 //  

The battle for a healthy lifestyle begins in the mind. In order to reach your fitness goals, you must eliminate the words “why” and “how” from your everyday vocabulary. Throwing away your inhibitions and becoming receptive to new ideas about fitness and health, can result in major lifestyle changes. One of the first things you should do is set a goal/goals. This is important because it gives you incentive to stay motivated and disciplined.

PHOTO BY AMBRO

That being said, the goals you set for yourself have to be realistic and reachable. After eating Domino’s pizza for a month straight, don’t be surprised that you can’t run a mile without sucking wind. Sometimes we have to set the bar really low, step over it, and pat ourselves on the back so that we can feel accomplished and build up our confidence.  When you are working to attain something, I feel that it’s important to have confidence and motivation to get the job done. You must make drastic changes in your psyche to remain consistent with your training and eating habits. You have to make up your mind to be special because no one’s okay with just being mediocre. Once you come to the realization that you are special, you’ll be able to achieve great things beyond your own comprehension.

This all may sound cliché and I might come across sounding like Tony Robbins, but if you work to improve mental toughness, the physical part becomes easy. Many say they want to live a healthy lifestyle but don’t think hard enough and dig deep enough to achieve great levels of health and fitness. I would go as far as to say that achieving a good level of health and fitness is 90% mental and 10% physical. You need to incorporate a little mental toughness on days when you want to eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast and skip a run. These are the make or break moments that can mean the difference between losing ten pounds and gaining 20.