Whatcom nurses focus on student health

By Jenna Dennison

Nursing students at Whatcom Community College hosted the fifth Student Led Health Fair on Monday in Syre Student Center, which focused on health topics selected for college students.

The event featured several interactive booths made by the senior nursing students at Whatcom, with teams of five to six students presenting a specific topic. This year, the students focused on the health impacts of energy drinks, stress management, wellness and disease prevention, smoking risks, and making healthy nutrition choices.

Angela Lochridge, a member of the nursing faculty, described the health fair as “a way to give back to the college community.” The topics that were covered at this year’s event were inspired by the health mentorship program between nursing students and the international students at Whatcom.

“Last September, they were paired up with 19 international students, and they do workshops every quarter with these students,” said Lochridge. Specifically, the workshops focused on how students can stay healthy in a college environment in an unfamiliar place.

“Those students who have been working on those workshops all year are now taking those ideas and making them useable for the whole campus in general,” said Lochridge.

Iris Anthony, the Community College Initiative Advisor at Whatcom, has been partnering with the student nurses to bring health workshops to Community College Initiative students for the last three years. She saw that many students were struggling with health concerns and issues while staying in the U.S., and wanted to find a way to assist this group. CCI is a U.S. State Department funded program that allows international students to study in the U.S. for ten months. Currently, 19 CCI students are attending Whatcom.

“I think that it provides another level of support for them,” said Anthony. “For both of them, it’s real world learning.” She also noted that the mentorship program builds friendship and cultural awareness between CCI students and the student nurses.

The health fair is unique in the way it addresses health concerns for a student population. One group of nursing students’ presentation regarded the potential danger of energy drinks. Beverages such as these contain high levels of caffeine and sugar, are harmful energy alternatives, and may cause energy intoxication Instead of energy drinks, the nursing students suggested healthier energy alternatives such as exercise and getting enough sleep. Jennifer Michels, a nursing student presenting on energy drinks, said projects such as these “bring awareness” to health issues facing college campuses.

Many groups also used interactive games to illustrate their topics. One team of students had participants play a matching game between common food items and their sugar content in order to highlight how much sugar students consume.

“People are in a hurry,” said nursing student Debra Grindley, who presented on healthy eating habits. “They eat whatever they can grab.”

“As a student it’s hard to be healthy,” said nursing student Sue Kim, as she added that the fair served as “a good reminder” to students at Whatcom.

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