Audrey’s Corner

Remembering Audrey's Positivity
By Jill Amari

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

-J.K. Rowling

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

-Maya Angelou

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

-Coretta Scott King

Photos courtesy of Jill Amari

 

Photos courtesy of Jill Amari
Learning to Grow
By Elizabeth Coyne

When everyone is facing their own struggles in and out of school, it can be difficult to know what to say sometimes without upsetting or offending anyone. It is also hard to grasp how much a single interaction can affect the state of someone’s well being. This is why it is important to be able to seperate your intent from your impact. What this means is that no matter what your intent was within a situation, it is only as important as how that statement, action, presence, or involvement impacted the other person.

For example, if you were to tease a friend for something they were wearing and you think it’s obvious that your intent was to be funny, lighthearted, or relaxed. However, that friend might not have taken the teasing as it was intended and it may have hurt their feelings. It is in this situation where you need to be able to listen to your friend’s concerns and allow yourself to learn and grow from your actions. It is important to be able to recognize the flaws within your own behavior, and limit the blame that you may want to place onto the other person. Other people’s feelings are valid and deserve as much attention and care as your own.

Allowing yourself to be humbled in a state of vulnerability is important even if it is difficult.  While no one likes to be called out, or told they were in the wrong during a situation, it can be a necessary step to becoming a better person. This ability to listen to others, instead of constantly worrying about being heard, will allow you to connect to others in a more personable way.  Giving yourself the room to grow by accepting that you may have hurt someone, even if it was unintentional, will most definitely allow you to create more meaningful and whole relationships.  Giving off good energy like this will create a more positive environment for everyone, and hopefully turn conflict into kindness.

An Eight-Letter Word
By Amber Martinez

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I know this mantra is supposed to help people who are being hurt by bullies and it may work for some but for me it didn’t. As a kid I was bullied a lot, for reasons I don’t think matter, because no one deserves to be bullied. Words have more power than people care to admit. Power that can really harm a person. For me, they have stuck with me to this day, and have made me who I am.

Bullying affects many people of all ages. What makes things worse is that we now have more access to technology at an early age, which allows them to be affected early on. Kids now have access to Instagram, where they can experience receiving a hurtful comment, or they could have Twitters, where they are introduced to things they shouldn’t be. For example, I’ve seen these posts on Twitter where they say, “like if you’ve done or thought this before” and they list mundane things like gone to school, taken out the trash, did homework, and then slip in things like buried a body, or wanted to hurt yourself. And then after listing them all it says, “no one will know which one you’ve done or thought”. What’s sad is that it’s true, no one will know because no one will ask. Getting access to negative posts like this are that much easier. Which means that bullies can reach us from anywhere at any time. It can be from strangers on the internet or even companies trying to sell their products to a certain demographic. We are told by people we don’t even know that we aren’t worth it, and that we will never meet society’s standards. I believe that some people don’t take bullying seriously because they think the term bullying sounds juvenile. In a way it does have something to do with juveniles. It’s at this youthful age where kids learn to be mean. If we want to make this world a better place with happier people, we need to start by teaching people unbiased kindness.

It costs nothing to be kind. Everyone is different and we need to start celebrating those differences instead of beating people down, until they feel like they are worth nothing. Some people think that suicide is selfish and that people who commit suicide are just looking for attention, when that is the furthest from the truth. They were beaten and lashed with words and unattainable expectations until they couldn’t take it anymore. Kindness. An eight-letter word. So simple yet so powerful. I don’t know about you, but kind people are my kind of people. They should be yours too.

Challenge Extended
By Mary Campione

In a world where information can travel in seconds the power of our words, spoken or written, is more poignant than ever. As college students, we are at the cusp of taking this world on and making it our own. We get to choose to be whatever we want to be. In a few short years we will be the ones calling the shots. We will be the ones in law enforcement, teaching in schools, caring for the sick and leading politics. We will be the ones leading, making new laws, enforcing new policies and being the people that younger generations look up to. With this great world at our finger tips it’s time to think about what we want to do in it.

As a senior, I only have a short few months left in the safety bubble of college before it’s my turn to take the baton of leadership. Needless to say, my future has been on my mind a lot lately! I’m a theatre major with dreams of making it on Broadway or starring in a tv show. I’m also a psychology minor and plan to go to graduate school one day and become a school counselor. Although both of these things excite me to no end, there’s one other aspect of myself that I can’t wait to fully tap into. I’m a motivational speaker with a specialty in suicide prevention and last year I gave my first professional talk in which I spoke about the power of kindness and compassion in the world. I brought up a quote that I try to live my life by.

“I have this theory that if one person went out of their way to show compassion to another, it would start a chain reaction” ~ Rachel Joy Scott. It seems so simple right? A smile, hold the door open. I challenged the audience from my speech to try it out. Say hi to the custodial staff, instead of staring at your phone when you’re walking in the halls smile at someone. Simple acts of kindness can make the biggest difference in the life of someone who’s struggling. Often times, all it takes is a smile to show someone that they are seen, noticed, matter. A small act of kindness can change someone’s life.

Now more than ever we have this power to change a life. I challenge you to use social media for good. Share an uplifting quote on Facebook, compliment someone’s Instagram picture that you wouldn’t normally compliment, retweet a video of a cute animal that made you smile. It’s so easy to find the faults in social media so let’s focus on the positives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve posted a bible verse on my Instagram story and someone chatted me saying they needed to be reminded of that today. Something as simple as that changed someone’s day!

So in a time where we are choosing our career paths and making big plans for our lives, I want to add one more aspect to consider. I challenge you to be kind every chance you get and to sit back and watch just how powerful kindness and compassion can be.

S.W.E.E.T. Club Spotlight: An Audrey Award Article
By Daniela Cespedes
Staff Reporter

How sweet would it be to know a s.w.e.e.t.? Chances are you already know one.  

The Student Wellness Education and Empowerment Team (s.w.e.e.t.) is a group of students who focus on sharing tips on staying well on campus.  

As the slogan says, “Who are we? Students like you. We eat. We sleep (sometimes). We study. We have a good time. We’ve also got the facts about drinking, dealing with stress, bystander intervention, and staying well on campus.” 

As college students, it is important but oftentimes difficult to find a balance between courses, extracurriculars, social and personal life. S.w.e.e.t. reminds students of the importance of self-care through the many programs they offer. 

I became a s.w.e.e.t member my junior year because I was interested in becoming a part of a group that promoted wellness. As a member now, I realize that s.w.e.e.t. members and the different programs we promote offer more than I knew or expected.  

Canine Help SHU? is a program that allows students to de-stress from classes or daily pressures by bringing in therapy dogs, whose only job is to brighten a student’s day. As many students say that they feel homesick throughout the semester, these therapy dogs come monthly to the UC Lobby of the Main Academic Building for students to pet.  

Another program I have been able to participate in is S.w.e.e.t. Dreams. We begin by asking students if they think they practice good sleeping habits. Most students say that they feel as though they do not get enough sleep and even with long naps in between classes, they still do not feel rested.  

This program shares facts about sleep hygiene with the goal of reminding students of the importance of sleep and how one can improve their sleeping habits.  

S.w.e.e.t. offers more programs like the Bar Exam, an interactive presentation that teaches the accurate measurements of alcoholic drinks so that students who choose to drink know their limits. Not only this, but the program aims to educate first-year students about alcohol use and its consequences.  

Another program that students can take advantage of, especially during finals season, is the Stress-Free Zone. Here students have several options to de-stress from the pressures of finals week. From therapy dogs that students can hug, to making your own stress ball and even aromatherapy, the Stress-Free Zone program reminds students to take a moment to leave their worries behind for just one moment.  

I have had an amazing experience with s.w.e.e.t since I became a member. New members are required to attend three days of training before the start of the new semester where they get several presentations from the health and wellness staff on campus.  

This training allowed me to learn more about bystander intervention, the staff at the counseling center, and tips on approaching, talking and listening to people.  

S.w.e.e.t. members are not just presenters or hosts to the several programs. They can be mentors and friends whom one can confide in. S.w.e.e.t. members know the pressures of classes, work, athletics, social and personal life which makes them a great resource for students to trust in.  

You can go to the Sacred Heart webpage and look up: Meet the s.w.e.e.t. peer educators, where you can find student members like me and a link to our e-mail.  

Students should never feel like they’re alone in their college experience, so s.w.e.e.t members are here to help with any type of need.  

iGrieve: An Audrey Award Article
By Jill Amari and Cheryl Amari
Contributing Writer, High School Teacher/Bereavement Specialist

As I look down at my phone, I notice another email starting with the words, “We regret to inform you of the passing of….” Disheartened, I begin to wonder how we continue to live on as normally as possible when the year has already begun with so much grief.

However, our lives wouldn’t be “normal” without grief. Grief is a natural, normal and necessary reaction to change and loss, and it bonds us as a community. This bond strengthens each of us in a unique way and is not a form of weakness. We all grieve differently, and that’s okay. Some of us cry a lot; some of us talk a lot; some of us seek the solace and support of friends and large groups; some of us prefer to be alone and write, draw or listen to music. But before we can grieve, we must acknowledge our loss. It is hard to admit that loss and death are part of life, and it might seem easier to deny these or pretend that everything is okay, but recognizing a loss gives it less power over us and allows us to grieve well. 

While the death of a loved one is an obvious loss, there are other types of “deaths” in our everyday lives: failing a quiz, breaking off a friendship or relationship, suffering an injury, realizing that a life dream is no longer viable, losing a job. These losses can affect us just like a physical death and are also worth grieving.  

Grief is a journey. But it’s not the kind of journey that requires a GPS to tell us exactly where to go and when we will arrive at our destination. There are no set stages, steps, or Siri directions during the grieving process, and there is no ETA to when we will finish the journey. We may encounter rocks, road closures, and seemingly impassable rivers, but we cannot “get over” a loss as easily as we can jump over a rock, nor can we avoid a loss as readily as we can avoid a closed road. Rather, we must get through our losses, just as we must walk through the muddy river to get to the other side, leading us to hope and healing. 

So the next time I look at my phone and read about a death or loss, I will acknowledge this loss, allow myself to grieve it well, and understand that grief takes time. I will realize that while I feel one way about a loss or change, the person sitting next to me may feel completely different. And that’s okay — when iGrieve, I begin a journey that is messy and unpredictable, but I have what it takes to survive it. And I will leave my GPS behind. 

Learning to Grow
By Elizabeth Coyne
Contributing Writer

 When everyone is facing their own struggles in and out of school, it can be difficult to know what to say sometimes without upsetting or offending anyone. It is also hard to grasp how much a single interaction can affect the state of someone’s well being. This is why it is important to be able to seperate your intent from your impact. What this means is that no matter what your intent was within a situation, it is only as important as how that statement, action, presence, or involvement impacted the other person.  

For example, if you were to tease a friend for something they were wearing and you think it’s obvious that your intent was to be funny, lighthearted, or relaxed. However, that friend might not have taken the teasing as it was intended and it may have hurt their feelings. It is in this situation where you need to be able to listen to your friend’s concerns and allow yourself to learn and grow from your actions. It is important to be able to recognize the flaws within your own behavior, and limit the blame that you may want to place onto the other person. Other people’s feelings are valid and deserve as much attention and care as your own.  

Allowing yourself to be humbled in a state of vulnerability is important even if it is difficult.  While no one likes to be called out, or told they were in the wrong during a situation, it can be a necessary step to becoming a better person. This ability to listen to others, instead of constantly worrying about being heard, will allow you to connect to others in a more personable way.  Giving yourself the room to grow by accepting that you may have hurt someone, even if it was unintentional, will most definitely allow you to create more meaningful and whole relationships.  Giving off good energy like this will create a more positive environment for everyone, and hopefully turn conflict into kindness.  

Always Have Your Head Up
Rosemarie Caporale
Mother of Dominic Caporale – Business / Multimedia Manager

As a college student, you know that life can be hard. With so many things happening at once, between juggling 18 credits, a part time job, and trying to keep up with an active social life, it is no wonder so many of us feel so overwhelmed so often. But, what we don’t ever feel is that those feelings are completely normal. We can only keep up with so many distractions, setbacks and bumps in the road before we feel like we are drowning. It is even more difficult when social media makes you feel jealous, inadequate and the need to be “perfect”.

But, we aren’t perfect, and that’s perfectly okay. It is okay to feel anxious and stressed. It is okay to stay in bed and watch Netflix. It is okay to cry for no apparent reason. It is perfectly okay. Just be yourself, left yourself “feel” and it will all be okay. And, know that there is always help available.

Sometimes by simply talking to someone, even a complete stranger, can instantly improve stress and mood. As a trained crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, a lifeline that provides 24/7 free and confidential support for anyone who is a having any kind of crisis (simply text “HOME” to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S.), I know firsthand. It can be hard to share private thoughts and feelings, but it can be a lifesaver. I have listened to many people in all sorts of pain, reminded them of their strengths, and helped them keep moving in a positive direction .

By simply texting “HOME” to 741741 at any time of day, for any reason, no matter how big or small the crisis, it can help. It can be anything from having text anxiety, bullying, sexual abuse, depression, loneliness, to having suicidal thoughts. As a crisis counselor, I have validated everything from a texter’s emotions after a relationship ends, to coping with an eating disorder, to creating a plan to stay safe with a texter who was self harming. Through active listening and collaborative problem solving, any “hot moment” suddenly becomes a “cool calm” for anyone in crisis. The significant thing to remember is that a crisis is any painful emotion that YOU need support with.

Life can be very intense and hard to deal with at times. But know that there are so many different national crisis resources available, just like Crisis Text Line, to validate that we are not alone in feeling the way we do sometimes. Just remember that a crisis is anything that is a crisis to YOU. So the next time you find yourself suffering from any painful emotion, there is support and it is okay.

The Importance Of A Smile: An Audrey Award Poem
By Jill Amari
Contributing Writer

A smile is a gift that anyone can give and get for free.

A smile is a universal language.

A smile makes you radiate with warmth, grace, and beauty.

A smile lights up the world.

A smile makes one bad day become a thousand wonderful ones.

A smile is a sign of peace.

A smile is a magical result of seeing people you love.

A smile is encouraging.

A smile is calming.

A smile is comforting in both the happiest and saddest of times.

A smile is a gift. I smile because it makes other people smile, and that is the greatest gift of all.

The Will To Live Foundation
By Erica Condon
Managing Editor

On Dec. 4, John Trautwein came to Sacred Heart University to speak about his non-profit foundation, Will to Live. The foundation is dedicated to his son, Will Trautwein, who was a victim of suicide.

On the website will-to-live.org, their mission is stated as, “We are dedicated to preventing teen suicide by improving the lives and the ‘will to live’ of teenagers everywhere through education about mental health and encouraging them to recognize the love and hope that exists in each other.”

Trautwein spoke energetically and interactively to a room full of Sacred Heart students, athletes, and faculty, educating them about teenage suicide and mental health through his personal story of loss.

The vision of the Will to Live foundation is stated on their website, “to be a positive and motivational resource for teens, young adults, and their families, in the global fight against teen suicide, depression and the stigma surrounding mental illness in our communities.”

Will was a loving brother to three siblings, an aspiring musician, a lacrosse player, and a humble teammate. Trautwein also said that Will was a loving friend to everyone and they never expected him to be suffering.

Through this tragedy, Trautwein came up with the mission of having “Life Teammates.” The idea behind this initiative is to recognize and support the “teammates” in our lives, whether they are friends, family members, classmates, co-workers or actual teammates.

Throughout his speech, Trautwein expressed the importance of being kind and looking out for everyone because like his son Will, even the people you least expect could be struggling internally.

“Good teams may win, but great teams love each other,” said John Trautwein.

Sacred Heart University is raising awareness around mental health, especially within the athlete population with the Heart to Heart initiative.

Sophomore Jamie Maresca is a member of Heart to Heart and attended his speech. She was moved and inspired by Trautwein’s message.

“For me, the big take away from the speaker was realizing how many things in our lives today can cause problems for people and we really don’t know. I thoroughly enjoyed his idea about how kids today have it worse off than he did growing up because of all the social media we have in our lives,” said Maresca.

Maresca is also a student-athlete, being a member of the cheerleading team she acts as their team’s representative for Heart to Heart.

“Student-athletes tend to be under a lot of pressure and can have severe mental health issues, so our Heart to Heart program wants to raise awareness for student-athletes to know that it’s okay to not be okay and seek the help they need,” said Maresca.

Trautwein also told a story about how Will and his friends used to say “Love ya man” to each other every day. He carries this phrase on through the foundation to remind everyone to show the people in your life that you care about them. Even the smallest positive affirmation can turn someones day around.

“The kids of the Will To Live Foundation prove to us every day, that the greatest source of HOPE in our lives, is through the LOVE of a Friend. So drop a “Love ya man” on someone today – you’ll feel better,” said Trautwein.

You can visit will-to-live.org for more information and to get involved in the foundation.

Building Audrey's Corner
By Prof. Joanne Kabak
Faculty Advisor

On the morning of May 1, 2018, I hunkered down at my kitchen table with a stack of folders filled with my students’ work. Classes were over and I was set to efficiently and thoughtfully calculate grades. I shut down my desktop and closed my laptop to eliminate the distraction of email.

And then a text came in. It was from the editor-in-chief of Spectrum. She wrote how sad she was about what happened to Audrey.

What happened to Audrey? All I knew at that point was that her work was waiting for my review in one of those folders. Her last article was in the current issue of Spectrum. Her messages to me and her editor were still in my inbox.

Once I learned that Audrey had passed away so unexpectedly that morning on campus, I knew what I wanted to do: to speak about her at the memorial service in the chapel that afternoon and to remember her in Spectrum now and going forward.

I knew the what, but not yet the how.

For the first step, the words came easily, as Audrey’s distinctive qualities were so fresh in my mind. There was her presence in the classroom in her seat at the back right, her face lit up by her smile, her curls and the turquoise tops she favored. And there was her work. You knew what articles she really liked writing – testing out new flavors of ice creams — and which ones not so much, like tracking down sources for a technology topic. Yet, whatever assignment she got, she pursued it doggedly and joyfully.

The next step – the way for Spectrum to remember her — came a couple of days later. I learned for the first time that Audrey had been bullied in school when she was younger. What’s more, she spoke openly about the pain of that experience and how she worked through it to become the positive, engaged person she was in college.

The editors and I read the article about her published a few years ago in the Greenwich Time, and saw the video interview showing her sitting cross-legged on a couch outdoors, speaking about what for some is unspeakable – being a kid who is pushed into your locker by other kids, just because. We knew what we had to do next.

We established the annual Audrey Niblo Award for Excellence in Reporting and Writing. Spectrum’s editors decided that the way to honor Audrey, a staff writer on the paper, was to remember her and to help others by using the voice of student media to write about what is bullying, what does it feel like, why do people do it to each other, and how can you stop it. Further, Spectrum made the commitment to write about the other types of challenges that students face, such as stress, anxiety, mental health issues, and negative self-esteem.

But just as Audrey did not let bullying stop her, Spectrum does not intend to stop at the problems either. Its goal is to write just as much about support, positive actions, stress relief, friendship.

Spectrum began its work in the fall 2018 on these issues and continues to publish related content. This year’s team of contributors decided for the spring semester to call the material inspired by her “Audrey’s Corner.”

Why tell you about this in an editorial? Because Spectrum needs you too. We want you to read the articles, to pick up the print edition distributed throughout the campus and to scroll through the website.  Further, Spectrum needs you to contribute ideas. What do you experience? What do you feel needs to be addressed and communicated about the issues that concern students? What are positive ways you or those you know overcome challenges? What is the research finding out about bullying and its consequences?

When I first spoke about Audrey, I knew her and her concerns only through the role of being her teacher in the news writing class and her advisor on Spectrum. For sure, working with someone on their writing brings you into deeper level of knowledge. Even in the objective, balanced process of news writing, the efforts and the words reveal a lot about a person. But I didn’t know her beyond those parameters.

Since that day on May 1, I’ve learned more. I found out that Audrey passed away from a heart condition. She was deeply loved by her parents, three siblings, and her extended family. She built a new family at Sacred Heart through the bonds she formed with her sisters in Theta Phi Alpha. Her love of her dog, who sat quietly and sadly in the front row at her funeral, was beyond description.

Learning about a person of character like Audrey evolves. Just a few days ago, as I sat with the team of students who’ve committed to be contributors to the Audrey Award project this year, I learned from one of them something I didn’t know before: One of Audrey’s dreams was to participate in buildOn.org, an international organization dedicated to supporting young people through its programs in the U.S. and abroad.

That’s what the passage of time and ongoing communication can do. They reveal new information, meaningful messages, and a way to bring others in who can say “yes, I understand that. It happens to me too and those I know. I want to help.” It is gratifying that this year’s project includes two freshmen – reminding us that goal of this program continues well past the graduation dates of those who knew Audrey personally.

To use a cliché – apologies to my student writers to whom I tell never to use a cliché – it takes a village. In this case, the village includes the Spectrum editors who work tirelessly to put out a weekly newspaper in print and online 22 times a year. It includes the students across majors who’ve responded to the call to be part of the team that creates content. And it includes faculty and staff in the School of Communication and throughout the university, such as Prof. Amanda Moras in the sociology department, and Mary Murphy, Executive Director for University Advancement.

Especially, Audrey’s family has been there for us every step of the way, sharing with us their memories of Audrey and their support for our efforts.

If you would like to read any of the previous articles published by Spectrum since September 2018, let us know. We can send you links. If you would like to contribute to our fundraising efforts, we have a crowd fund option until Dec. 31. This is the link: : https://weareshu.sacredheart.edu/project/17129. Our fundraising is important because Spectrum has committed to recognizing the work of the participants in the Audrey Award program through a grant, as well as a certificate.

Most of all, think about the issues in your own life and those of others. Read Spectrum’s work. Contribute your ideas to us. This is my email so I can route your ideas to the best channels for publication: kabakj@sacredheart.edu.

When Audrey spoke out through the Greenwich Time, she said, “Being bullied, that’s a fight you can’t win on your own. You need to talk to somebody. Teacher, parent, friend — someone.”

Spectrum’s response to that quote? Here we are. Through the reach of print and in the voice of students, we are talking now and into the future. We want to help others flourish, inspired by Audrey and by the path she set out to follow.

 

Audrey with her sister

“An act of kindness doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, a simple smile can truly leave someone feeling loved.”

-Amy Petrovich, Sophomore

“Act of kindness: My dad used to make my lunches when I was growing up and would put notes in my lunchbox that said “Have a great day”. Now whenever I am home and know that he had a bad day, I will write him a note saying “Have a good day tomorrow) and put it into his wallet.”

-Maria Cipriano, Sophomore

“An act of kindness is reaching out to others and getting them to smile or laugh.”

-Jared McCabe 2022

“Since my roommate struggles to keep her room organized, when she went away for the weekend, I surprised her by re-organizing her space.”

-Daniela Cespedes, Junior

“Something that makes me feel good is going out of my way for others, and seeing that it truly makes a difference to them. It’s always nice to do for others  simply to be nice, but knowing that it helped them get through something makes it even more worth while!”

-Deanna Reinhardt

“One of my favorite small acts of kindness is when someone takes a moment to wave and say a friendly “hello” during the busy week.”

-Jill Amari, Freshman

“Its a joke that SHU is a “door holding campus”,  but it genuinely is something I notice every day and am grateful for because it makes you feel respected and seen. While this is just a small act of kindness it makes this university feel like home.”

– Julia Pizzuto, Class of 2021

“Kindness to me is when people help people just to see them smile. It gives me faith in humanity that there are still people out there who selflessly give themselves to others.”

– Kristen Cignarella, Class of 2021

“An act of kindness that I always appreciate is when someone goes out of their way to do something small, like hold the door, ask you how you are, or help you hold something when your hands are full. We never know what is going on in someone else’s personal lives and small acts of kindness can make someone’s day much better.”

-Gian Capolino

“I appreciate when you let somebody go first at an intersection, or any driving scenario, the person waves at you to thank you. When your act of kindness is recognized on the road, it goes a long way.”

– Pat Kelleher

“An act of kindness would be someone being there for you whether it’s a kind text, a compliment to brighten your day, or even a friendly smile.”

– Megan Acquavella, Junior