Audrey’s Corner

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.

 

 

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.