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The Oblivious Truth Behind a Smile

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“I laid there after getting hit by a car, not even trying to help myself get back up. I didn’t see a reason to go on living anymore.”

“I just wanted someone to notice me, that I was hurting myself. I wanted someone to stop me. Someone, please stop me!.”

“It’s like you’re trapped in a dark hole. You feel nothing, and no one can help you get out.”

He is the pre-medical student at the University of California, Irvine who is coming from an immigrant family and appears to be a role-model for his younger sister. Every week, he volunteers at ‘Karate for All,’ an organization that aids autistic children in gaining motivation to participate in physical activity. He is the director of CampMed, a non-profit organization that mentors low- socioeconomic students and inspires local communities. He is the kindest soul any person can ever encounter. He continues to inspire those around him every day and is a constant supporter for those suffering from mental illness.

Dedicated to one of my closest friends who has gone through depression, anxiety, and psychosis, I wish to shed more exposure on understanding mental illness. My primary focus is on the impression my friend has left upon people he encountered. People consider him as having an ever-smiling personality and never the one to bring down his mood amongst his group of friends. It was unbelievable for me when I heard that he was transported to a psychiatric hospital, and it was at this point where I revealed my oblivion.
In truth, there were a couple of times when there was a great chance he would have been recovered. But the conditions became critical and challenging to handle when the mental illness became extreme, i.e., the loud voices from psychosis were unbearable.

This subject on mental health is an underwhelmingly acknowledged form of illness compared to other physical illnesses. It’s difficult for us to believe in things we cannot see. Our natural tendency is to grasp concepts that we observe physically in front of us. This subject still yet stems as an underwhelmingly acknowledged form of illness compared to other physical illnesses. One can never really know what the person next to you is going through, despite the smile they present!

Help is Here!
There are several resources and outlets to gain support for yourself or for your loved ones undergoing any form of mental illnesses. Online resources are better alternatives to acquiring – self- help, especially for those who are not seeking any guidance from others. Digital mental health respects the privacy of the user and allows to have their own schedule and pace. E- therapy programs utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) where users have to complete modules and various exercises, and thereafter they gain private feedback from a psychotherapist. Video calling platforms and face- to- face interaction also helps patients to practice efficient self- management skills and obtain the help they need. There are 33% adults in age- range 18-29 years, who search online on mental health issues and 38% of adults who explore for over- the- counter drugs. There is a need for in-depth understanding of digital treatments for mental health, and future designs are in the process of creating better interactive therapies.

A final appreciation goes out to those who are continuing to fight to overcome their mental illness. As my friend advises, “you have to accept it and deal with it without neglecting. Once you have learned to accept it, you can be open to all the support you can get.” Today, my friend is blooming and recovering with the help of his loved ones. It’s thus essential to create a safe environment for those who have issues regarding mental health. In order to deal with mental health issues, it is important to eliminate the misconceptions and stereotypes. Mental health problems are not accepted in many households as a health issue, as there is no physical proof to diagnose the disease. However, mental health should be acknowledged at every stage of life because it affects how we think, feel, and act.

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Interviews and Stories

Get to Know Dr. Ebonie Vincent, D.P.M. and Her Journey to Podiatry

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  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your educational background?
    • I grew up in Temecula CA, and attended Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and majored in Biology. I knew I wanted to go into the medical field, with an emphasis on sports medicine. I went to do a Master at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, PA where I earned a Masters in Biomedical Science. It was here that I discovered the field of podiatry. I spent four years at Des Moines, Iowa and did a three-year intense surgical residency training at Inspira Health Network before going into private practice. I currently work in private practice in Orange County. I see patients during clinic hours, and then perform surgeries in and around clinical hours. I generate consistent patients who may have ongoing foot problems that need care every couple of months as well as patients who have deformities or injuries that require surgical attention.
  2. What drew you into the field of podiatry?
    • I did a lot of shadowing before embarking on the field of podiatry.  I knew I wanted a surgical specialty and podiatry fit my career ambitions and lifestyle. I have had personal experience with the field of surgery was when I had two torn Acls, and that was my official introduction to the orthopedic side.  Although I found podiatry much later in life, I found this field fit my passion. Podiatrists make people happy, and that reflected my personality and everything I wanted to give back in my career. The surgical aspect was also very appealing.
  3. Who or what is the greatest influence in your life?
    • My family as a whole has been extremely influential. I come from a family of educators that geared me in the right direction. They knew that it was important that my personality fits my career choice. As a result, my drive and passion come from family knowledge and support.
  4. What is your most favorite part of the job?  
    • I like making sure I do everything I can to help a patient feel better and progress in their lives.
  5. What are your additional hobbies?
    • I like to exercise and eat healthily; that ties into my passion for preventive healthcare and allows me to set a good example for my patients. Besides that, I love watching Broadway musicals.
  6. What has been one of the most life-changing moments for you?
    • My dad had ruptured his Achilles tendon and had surgery.  He flew on a plane just a week or so after to see me graduate from college and developed a blood clot! This was extremely life-threatening, and It is definitely something that has shaped the way I treat my patients. I give my patients as much information as possible and that speaks more so to my philosophy of preventative care. I would rather catch a health problem before operating on a patient because surgeries can be mentally and physically demanding.
  7. What is some advice you would give to a patient as they embark on their health journey?
    • Be mindful of your health and do not mask pain, because pain is a great indicator. Pain is what lets doctors know where they can treat their patients.
  8. What are your thoughts about healthcare?
    • I think that we would spend a lot less money on healthcare if we chose to focus on and emphasize preventive care. Often times preventative measures are difficult to get covered, so I try to embody mindfulness and make lifestyle factors a priority. I also let my patients know what the best treatment options are. This is why it is great to have a patient and doctor relationship. Us physicians need to work to tailor your individual needs.
  9. What motto do you live by on a day to day basis?
    • Just do your best all the time, whether you are a student, patient, doctor or other professional. What matters is that you give everything your 100% effort.

Here is a link to contact Dr. Vincent for any inquiries:

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Meet Jody Margolis M.S., R.D.

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Jody Margolis is a registered dietician at the University of California, Irvine who is passionate about health, wellness, and food. She has been working in the field of nutrition for over 20 years and strives to educate college students on weight management, wellness, nutrition, and meal prep techniques. Here is the interview that Margolis did with Word of Health in which she discusses her profession, influences, and beliefs about the field of nutrition.

  1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and why you are interested in the field of nutrition?
    • I was a biology major at UC San Diego on the pre-med track. I took a nutrition course in the biology department and fell in love with that subject. I decided to investigate the field of nutrition and shadowed a registered dietician. After UCSD, I went on to get my Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Metabolism. Growing up I was a dancer; I was always conscientious of what I put into my body. Healthy eating and general wellness was always important to me, and learning how nutrition impacts so much of our physical and mental health made nutrition a match. I knew I wanted to be a healthcare provider, but nutrition is what really aligned with my passions.
  2. What are your past work experiences and how did you get into dietetics?
    • I went to Boston University to get my graduate degree and did my internship that is required to be a dietician. I then worked on the clinical side in a hospital, and I loved being in that hospital setting. When I moved back to California, I moved to outpatient community setting, and I worked as a specialist in HIV medicine for 8 to 10 years. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was really bad, and doctors had not discovered medications that are as effective as they are today.  I worked in side-effect management, as these medications caused a lot of gastrointestinal side effects. A lot of people had wasting syndrome and lost quite a bit of muscle mass and body fat. I helped provide education on basic food safety and the importance of food nutrition throughout the HIV disease process. I then decided to make a change and moved over to treat childhood obesity and received a certificate in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. I then transitioned into adult weight management and now I am in collegiate health.
  3. What is your greatest professional achievement?
    • I have received a Prevention Award from the Irvine Prevention Coalition and last year I was interviewed in OC Parents Magazine. The highlight for me was to spread the message of the importance of a healthy, balanced diet to kids and their families. This is the community I live and work in, and to know that I have an impact within that community is rewarding.
  4. What or who is the greatest influence in your life?
    • My parents always taught me the importance of eating together as a family and preparing fresh homemade food. At the same time, however, I saw people in my life who mattered struggle with being overweight and dealing with heart disease. I always wanted to help them and understand why some people struggle with their weight more than others and their relationship with food.
  5. What is your most and least favorite thing about your job?
    • My favorite thing about my job is being able to connect with people and feel like you have helped them to learn about their relationship with food and how they can improve their eating habits to make them feel better. The biggest challenge is that sometimes you can put tools in someone’s toolbox and they are just not quite ready to use them. I can educate and motivate them but sometimes they are just not in a place of readiness to make the change. And sometimes that is okay. In college, students are alone and learning how to be independent. I want to be an ear to listen to them, and help them with adulthood through cooking and meal-prepping skills. I also educate students about stress eating and disordered eating. I also give them a safe space to talk about depression and anxiety and how it may be affecting their diet and refer them to a therapist. Being that listening ear to students is extremely rewarding.
  6. What is your favorite go-to recipe to share with students?
    • I try to teach students how to make different Chipotle-like bowls at home. It can be the Mexican style bowl, but it can also adapt to different cuisines. For example, you could swap out the beans and Mexican vegetables for tomatoes, cucumber, and hummus to make a Mediterranean style bowl. Or you can do an Asian Buddha bowl and add tofu, edamame, and other spices. It is really about finding where students spend a lot of time and money—at Panda Express and Chipotle. You can make that cheaper and healthier at home. You can change the flavor through the seasoning but keep the key elements the same with meat, legume, grain, and vegetable.
  7. What are your thoughts about health policies regarding nutrition?
    • The US lags behind Europe in specific policies, especially through marketing unhealthy food to children in commercials. We think about Happy Meals or things with high sugars in breakfast cereals. Europe has been much stricter in marketing things that are unhealthy. We have a long way to go in constructing policies to prevent the obesity epidemic.  It is a free society and people want to have choices, but at the same time, our nation has an obesity epidemic, so we need more public health policies to support nutritional health.
  8. What are some misconceptions that patients may have about nutrition/diet in general?
    • It is so important to know that nutrition is evidence-based. Many people get misinformation from the internet, and getting information from a website that is full of testimonials but not backed by science can be harmful and can lead to following fad diets, disordered eating, etc.  I try to teach students where to get the right information. At the same time, I make sure I stay up to date on the latest developments in my field via conferences, webinars, scientific journals, etc.
    • Coconut water and gluten-free products are things that I have seen rise in popularity. For the most part, I remind people that food companies are in business to make money and it is important to be an educated consumer. I also worry about fad diets on the internet, which are not scientifically backed.
  9.  What are your thoughts on nutrition and wellness?
    • Being a more mindful eater is extremely important in terms of thinking about how sustainable a food product is and how it impacts the environment. We can make changes for ourselves, but that can create a ripple effect when that change is made by others.
  10.  What are some of your additional hobbies and how does that connect to your profession?
    • I love to travel, and I have traveled to 5 of the 7 continents. I also love to hike and do yoga. Connecting to nature is how I connect my hobbies to my passion for nutrition, and I think that shows through my cooking, as I try to focus more on plant-based food. With traveling, you learn from new cultures. It exposes you to the differences and similarities in humanity. For so many people, food is a celebration, culture, and traditions. The food might vary, but we all like to honor different moments of our lives in similar ways. It makes you realize that we are not all that different from one another.

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Interviews and Stories

Meet Kellen Kartub: A Game-Changer in the Field of Science Communication

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Have you ever found science difficult to understand? Or do you ever wonder how it is actually used in real life? Maybe you went into a science class thinking it would be interesting, but instead, you found the material tough to grasp. Well, a UCI grad student is here to change that! Meet Kellen Kartub, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine, that strives to make chemistry more accessible to everyone, including those from a non-STEM background. On October 2017, she created an Instagram page known as chemwithkellen to not only further her passion of science communication but also to make chemistry enjoyable to a larger audience.

Kartub’s educational background is from Wellesley College, a liberal arts college that heavily emphasizes writing. Through taking several classes, she began to understand the importance of why good writing matters, as writing can shape our perceptions on certain topics. As she continued her academic career at UCI, she realized that there were few academic papers that explained chemistry concepts or studies well. Many times, these papers did not explain bigger concepts properly or excluded important technical details. Her passion for writing, education, and chemistry along with these experiences gave her the inspiration to start this Instagram page.

With regards to her content, Kartub aims to make the posts relevant and wants the topic to resonate with her audience members. For example, many of her posts revolve around food chemistry that explains the chemistry behind the food making process. Her recent post about sugar chemistry started off with determining sugar’s melting point and organic structure and at the end, she explained the applicability of that information in caramelizing the sugar. In a similar vein, her writing style breaks down complex topics from the bottom up, meaning that it leads audience members to think about the questions leading up to the bigger point. The writing is crafted in the form of solving a puzzle as she builds up from given information leading to what we as audience members can conclusion. Ultimately, she wants to inspire people to see that there is chemistry in everyday life and everyone has the capability to understand it.

Kartub believes that science and communication are extremely important, as information is often miscommunicated in our society. After her PhD, she hopes to continue to incorporate science communication in her future career. Go follow her account at and keep up with all the awesome work she does! Kartub is poised to change the game of chemistry/science communication, working day by day to make the fun and technical aspects behind science more tangible.

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