As an undergrad at the University of Michigan I was part of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (LHSP), which is housed in the Alice Lloyd dormitory (right across the street from the School of Public Health building). I was part of LHSP from 2007-2008, which makes me feel so old! LHSP is one of a number of living-learning communities available to students. The idea behind the living-learning community model is that students not only work collaboratively with their peers in the program, but they live with them, study with them, and learn from them on a daily (and nightly) basis. LHSP is specifically for students passionate about writing and the arts and the program offers several undergraduate-level courses for its students. I loved the classes I chose because they were creative and challenging and different from any English class I had ever taken.
I typically like writing non-fiction pieces or in-depth critiques of other people’s writing. But as a hobby, I have always loved writing poems. As a freshman in the program, I entered several poems into a poetry contest and to my surprise, one of my poems won. I had never before entered a poetry contest. I most often write poems for fun or to de-stress after a particularly stressful moment; I like to think of my own poetry writing as a very intimate experience rather than something to publicize. But still, when my poem was included in the annual LHSP literary and arts journal I thought it was very cool.
This year, LHSP is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. I received an email several weeks ago asking me to attend the launch of the “Fiftieth Anniversary” Arts and Literary Journal. I am happy to know that the program is so connected with its past students. At the event, I read a poem called “El Horno”, which I wrote about my Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua from my freshman year of college. The event itself was quite short, with only about ten participants, but each piece was so powerful and emotional that I appreciated the brevity of the occasion. It was amazing to hear the other students’ wonderful pieces of writing and musical compositions. I felt truly honored and humbled to be reading among such talented artists.
Attending the launch sent me back to my days of being in the middle of the magical, complex, and remarkable literary world. I am comforted to know that the literary part of me has never left. It is just a bit deeper inside of me now. And the public health part of me has emerged. I know even more now that I can use my creativity and love of words to guide my career path within public health. That’s the beauty of this dynamic field.