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Make Your Mental Health a Priority

By Morgan Howell

October 23, 2018

Prior to college, I was never taught the importance of maintaining and understanding mental health. Being from an African American community, the topic of mental health/illness is deemed taboo and constantly swept under the rug. Within the Black community, it is an unspoken rule to simply not speak about it.

There are perceptions that mental health/illness is “just a phase,” and “it is not real,” and you are labeled as weak for expressing them. However, it was not until I stepped foot onto my college campus that I realized and understood the powers and effects of mental health/illness.

Throughout my matriculation, I have been exposed to the various aspects of mental health. My sophomore year, I joined an organization entitled C.H.I.L.L. which is an acronym for Counseling Humans In Life Lessons. This is a student lead organization that is centered around mental health advocacy. Here, I serve as a certified peer counselor for the students at Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University. Through various peer counseling training, I have learned how to identify and help individuals who suffer from illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

As a peer counselor, I serve as a direct line of communication for my peers. It is my duty to provide and create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable talking to me. I offer them a space where they are free to express themselves by actively listening, making a judgment-free zone, and rendering advice only when asked.

As a peer counselor, there are 3 things I stress to my peers:

It Is Okay Not To Be Okay

You do not have to be a superwoman all of the time. It is perfectly fine to be emotional and need help. Do not try to bottle up all of your emotions because that will only cause more problems to arise.

If you need help unpacking what you are going through, ask. You cannot tackle everything by yourself. Sometimes you need to talk to someone else. There is someone there to help you whether the storm.

Find a Person You Trust

In the midst of what you are going through you may feel as though you are alone and no one understands. I can assure you, that is not the case. Find someone who you feel comfortable talking to. This person may be a trusted friend, a co-worker, or relative. Ensure it is someone you feel completely comfortable divulging personal information to.

Look for organizations on campus that are geared toward mental health advocacy. Often, these are organizations are student-led. If you do not have a person you feel comfortable talking with, try utilizing the counseling centers on your college campus. These professionals are there to help guide you through whatever you are feeling or going through. The services in these offices are completely confidential so do not worry about your information being told to others. 

Practice Self-Care

Apart of maintaining and managing your mental health is being in-tune with yourself. Often we get so consumed in our everyday lives we forget to take time to care for ourselves. Self-care is about understanding your limitations and engaging in activities that are fulfilling, engaging, and make you happy.

Take a day out of each week where you cater to yourself and decompress from the week you had. Do not worry about the tasks you have to complete or anything else. Use this time to engage in activities that you enjoy. Whether it is getting your hair done, working out, sleeping, or binge-watching your favorite TV series take a day out of each week to do that.

Remember you are not alone. If you or someone you know needs help, utilize the hotline numbers below. These hotlines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and are completely confidential.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Substance Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-4357
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

Morgan Howell is a junior English major, Sociology minor at Spelman College. After graduation in May 2020, she plans to work as a community organizer to combat injustices against children. Currently, she serves as a Child Defender Fellow for the Children’s Defense Fund. Her ultimate goal is to start a nonprofit organization aiming to provide an array of services to underprivileged children and families.


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Unapologetic: Being Confident and Fearless in a Tough World

By Anagha Mulpur

October 18, 2018

Over the past two years, I went from someone I wasn’t happy being to someone who I can be proud of. I’ve become confident in my own skin and more patient with life, whereas I used to be angry at myself and the world—and I’ve learned some things along the way. Here’s my story of being unapologetic in my pursuit of who I want to be.

Acceptance is the first step to improving your life and attitude, and this can take many different forms for people. For me, I had to find peace in an uplifting way, and I joined yoga after a tough freshman year. My studio has been everything I dreamed of and more, filled with women from all walks of life who come together in an inclusive space and share a common love for physical and mental health. Sometimes there are tears during my practice, sometimes just cool mindfulness, and sometimes an exuberant joy, as I learned to express myself and let go of any judgement of myself.

Through this experience, I came to realize that I had been tearing myself down for not getting into business school, for not succeeding at pre-med, and for not creating a social life for myself that I really liked. I became unapologetic for my movements and my thoughts, and accepted my reality.

I joined about ten million organizations when I came back to school sophomore year, rushing and joining my sorority, doing a cultural organization, taking leadership roles, and becoming part of the wonderful Graham Sustainability institute. Spending so much time introspecting during yoga lit a fire in my heart, and suddenly I didn’t want to be timid and fearful of failure anymore.

I wanted to rise up and lead the way for unconventional women like me, commuting from home with a non-traditional background for finance. To this end, I became brand ambassador for Morning Brew, an amazing newsletter doing important work by conveying complex and important business stories in a palatable way. This year (my junior year), Forté has become a huge part of my life for a similar reason.

From these experiences, I learned to always be unapologetic in pursuing what organizations you want, and to pave the way for women like you to become more successful by standing on the shoulders of the work you’ve done. It’s the most rewarding thing I have done.

By putting myself out there, fighting for the career I want and the leader on campus I want to be, I started to grow more confident in myself and who I was. At the end of a horrible freshman year, I wasn’t sure I would get anywhere, and I hated being in my skin—one and a half years later, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else in the whole wide world.

If you’re like me and are feeling isolated, not quite up to par, or haven’t found your place at university yet, confidence in yourself and working up to who you want to be step by step are the keys to getting yourself out of a rut. By being a leader in my organizations and putting myself out there, exposing myself to the possibility of failure through rush and recruitment, I actually received far greater rewards than if I had stayed in the shell I had created for myself.

I’ve by no means figured out my life yet: there is still a long path for me to walk, and there is no magic formula for everyone. However, by being unapologetic for who I am and what I want, and by finding that inner strength and passion within myself, I’ve laid the foundation for the woman I eventually want to become.

I want to shout this message loud to each and every woman on campus today: step up! Be fearless and courageous in the pursuit of greatness. You have everything you need within yourself.

Anagha Mulpur is a junior studying Political Science at the University of Michigan with a Sustainability scholarship, intending to enter finance full-time. Her dream job would be antique book collector and seller: there’s no feeling like holding a hundred-year old book’s pages in your fingers, and no sight like a well-kept personal library.

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Business Books to Read During Breaks

By Mairead Tuttle

January 16, 2018

Winter Break presents the opportunity to relax, celebrate the holidays, and curl up by the fire with a good book. Below are four suggestions of books that will entertain you and teach you something about the business world or economic landscape.

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
Considered one of the best business books of all time, Barbarians at the Gate tells the story of the hostile takeover of RJR Nabisco in 1988. At the time, it was the most expensive takeover in history. The book, written by investigative reporters Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, details hour-by-hour negotiations of a leveraged buyout. The incredible detail in this book is a snapshot of one of the most important moments in American business history.

Barbarians at the Gate not only gives insight into the business practices of private equity firms and large corporations, but also highlights the importance of individual personalities in business decisions. Any person interested in working in the financial industry or private sector in general can learn from the choices made by people like RJR Nabisco CEO Ross Johnson or investor Henry Kravis. The book deftly illustrates the consequences that the actions of one person can have on the future of a business and the interests of its shareholders.

The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career
This career guide was written by Hilary Kerr and Katherine Power, founders of the fashion and style website Who What Wear. The book gives helpful and practical tips for starting your career. It is particularly helpful for those interested in working in the fashion and beauty industries, though its advice can be applied to almost any career path. The authors’ tips can also apply to any stage of a career, even one that has not yet started.

This book is particularly inspiring because its authors are female entrepreneurs who left jobs that were no longer fulfilling for them and forged their own career paths. They started small with their first website and now run a portfolio of sites that cover fashion, beauty, and home design, in addition to a clothing line meant to provide an alternative to professional women who are not drawn to the typical black pencil skirt and blazer. Their websites reach millions of women across the world every year, and the career advice the founders give is greatly valuable. 

The Wisdom of Finance
Harvard Business School professor Mihir A. Desai weaves together complex financial concepts and classic stories from literature in this book. The author also pulls from Broadway musicals and Biblical parables to explain the ways in which terms and ideas that might seem reserved for Wall Street are, in reality, inextricably linked to our everyday lives. A person who finds herself struggling with a concept like options trading will likely find their connection to Jane Austen illuminating.

This book also helps to dispel some of the many myths that surround Wall Street and the financial sector. As its title suggests, the book demonstrates that investment banks and hedge funds are about much more than just numbers. No matter a person’s opinion about Wall Street, he or she will surely find a chapter in this book that changes a previously held opinion. The diversity of the author’s points of focus proves that finance really is an essential part of our lives, whether we realize it or not.

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
This book’s author, Richard Thaler, was recently awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in developing the field of behavioral economics and finance. Misbehaving gives varied examples, from the National Football League to the department store JCPenney, to illustrate situations of what conventional economists would term “irrational” behavior. Behavioral economics is a relatively young field of study, and reading about it from one of its founders is the most effective way to learn about it.

Thaler is also the co-author of the book Nudge, which focuses on “nudges” that firms can use to push people toward certain behaviors. The book has been incredibly popular in the United Kingdom in recent years, and was used by government officials to justify policies that were deemed by some to be paternalistic. Evidently, Thaler’s work has had an impact on economics and politics, and any person interested in these fields will find his book engaging.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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Taking the Break in Winter Break

By Siyu Wu

December 12, 2016

Yes, winter break should be a break. But while you have a few weeks away from classes and homework, it’s also nice to take advantage of the free time to prepare for the new year and new semester. Here are some things to do in between holiday parties and family time to make the most of your winter break.

Read a book

I have always enjoyed reading, but found it challenging to finish a book given my hectic schedule while classes are in session. Winter break, then, is the perfect time to start (and finish) a book that has been on the to-read list. Even better? Read a book – either fiction or nonfiction – that can be a conversation starter. Find a book on a subject you enjoy but also introduces something you didn’t know before, that you can talk about in an interview or conversation. (Interested in finance? Here’s a list of books that every finance student should aim to read.)

Write down some personal goals

New Year resolutions may seem frivolous, but the process of writing down some goals is actually quite beneficial in itself. Research has shown that goal-setting – when done well – can increase productivity and allow you to achieve more. Make sure that your goals are feasible, clear, and measurable. (Get more tips.) I personally like to maintain a balance by separating my goals into categories, choosing one each for academics, relationships, and personal.

Update your resume

After a semester of hard work, it’s important to make sure your resume is up to date with your latest activities and achievements. As you gain more experience, it may be time to delete some of your old activities and expand on your more recent positions. Be sure to describe every experience in a way that reflects your efforts and highlights measurable results.

Submit an application (or two)

If you’re still in the internship or job application process, winter break is a great time to really focus on refining your cover letters and submitting some applications. Set a goal of submitting one application every week or so, so that you can head back to campus with the knowledge that you’ve gotten a head start for spring recruiting.

Write some holiday emails

During the holiday season, maintain connections with your mentors, supervisors, and others you’ve met with a quick end-of-the-year check in. Nothing too fancy is needed; just write a quick line or two wishing happy holidays to professional connections, friends, and families. Short emails like this are a great way to stay in touch after networking events.

These tips can be helpful in preparing for the new year, but don’t spend too much time on academic and professional-related work. Winter break and holiday season is time for relaxation and fun. Be sure to take a break (and perhaps do some of the things mentioned above) to start the new year strong!

Siyu Wu is from Colorado and attends Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Economics and certificates in Finance and East Asian Studies. Siyu will graduate in 2018. She hopes to synthesize her interest in China and East Asia with her passion for finance to eventually work in a career related to international finance and Asian capital markets.


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Maintain Focus and Become a Productivity Boss in College

By Hafsah Lakhany

October 7, 2016

As a freshman in college, my first year emerged as intense period of discovery, exploration, and profound personal and academic growth.  Throughout the progression of three challenging quarters, I found that I performed most effectively when I was focused. 

I’m sure many of you can either identify with or eventually discover that college is a strange place—college is a place where in one moment you may be having the time of your life with friends and without any warning the next moment you discover you have four finals, two presentations, three projects, and four extracurricular events and commitments all sandwiched into one grueling week. 

In fact, one of my professors even joked that one of the primary areas many students often ironically neglect in college is their academic course load. 

So amid all of the activities, involvements, and a desire to maintain some smidgen of a social life, how does one maintain laser sharp focus on their academic course load, arguably the most fundamental component of their college careers?


For many students, myself most definitely included, the environment in which you try to tackle schoolwork emerges as the most deterministic factor for the speed, quality, and focus of your studying and work.  If you’re not sure which environment you thrive in, experiment and go with whichever sticks, as everyone is inherently different. 

For many, quiet, structured libraries emerge as powerhouses for study, while other prefer the solitude or relaxing nature of their dorm rooms.  Personally, I find cafes and coffeehouses like Starbucks maintain the perfect balance between structure and background noise conducive to effective study habits and productivity for me.  Also, a little caffeine never hurts wink

Mental Prioritization and Pre-Planning

We’ve all been there: we plan on carving out a specific time frame for studying for that midterm or finally getting to that paper when one of your closest friends, or one of your favorite clubs on campus decides to host the event you’ve been dying to be a part of on what was going to be your most satisfying productivity day.  Do I want to have fun or maximize my score in Class X?

Personally, I try to avoid being confronted by such dilemmas by trying to abide by my mental priority list.  I prioritize academics/personal well being, followed by work, leadership responsibilities, friends/family, and finally all other club involvements/downtime.  That way, if my friends invite me to hang out, if I feel like lost time will drastically compromise the quality of my work, I’ll opt out but if I believe that I can realistically enjoy their company for a few hours and still maximize the quality of my work, then I’ll be happy to oblige.

Calendars/Task Apps

I don’t think it’s possible to vouch enough for free apps like Calendar and To Do List Apps.  Out of every tool and hack I’ve utilized throughout my college career, those two types of apps in tandem have most considerably simplified and enhanced the quality of my life. 

Personally, I tried to stay fairly involved on campus, so every club meeting, work shift, class, lab, seminar, and even library session would be listed on my calendar app, along with each event/task’s designated location, description, and frequency.  As opposed to wasting energy trying to remind myself of my committed events, or struggling to carve out time, my calendar app handled the guesswork and reminded me of each event which enabled me to really maximize my time and tackle each task with a peace of mind. 

In terms of specific tasks, I used a to-do list app to organize all of my goals and tasks in terms of categories (work, subject areas, personal tasks, etc.), deadlines, and even priority level which not only simplified my life, but also emerged as a motivation tool, since I rewarded myself with a gummy bear or just plain satisfaction every time I crossed off an item from my to-do list. 

If you enjoy the feeling of carrying a physical agenda or planner, by all means go for it!  I can concede that there are few experiences more satisfying than crossing off a physical item on a written to-do list.

Despite popular opinion, anyone can maximize their productivity and focus in college by prioritizing, organizing, and planning to win at the game of college and life. 

Keep fighting the good fight my fellow college students—it’s our game to win. 

Hafsah Lakhany will graduate in 2019 from the University of California at Irvine with a major in business administration. After college, Hafsah plans on going into consulting, health care management, and career development coaching/consulting.

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Be Like Beyoncé: Be Assertive

By Zaire Johnson

September 30, 2016

Assertiveness stands in a murky middle between aggressiveness and passiveness. Assertiveness can be characterized as the ability to speak up for yourself, or others, in a manner that is both positive and effective.

This definitely does not come easy to everyone, something that I and many other people struggle with! The following ways to help with your assertiveness will feel difficult and uncomfortable at first, but they will pay off in the end.

Start small and look for ways to sharpen your skills!

There are a number of interactions in our life that we let slide because we don’t want to be a fuss.

Want your coffee with low-fat milk? Ask. Want to buy a blouse, but a button is broken? Ask to see another.

Little conversations like these where you ask for your needs to be met may take a great deal of courage. But they build up your ability to assert yourself in different situations.

Embrace the “I” pronoun!

“I feel [emotion] because [x,y,z]” statements are the golden ticket when engaging in most types of confrontational conversations. Phrases like, “You never…” or “You haven’t..” can cause the other party to completely tune out of your conversation.

By using “I” statements you show that you’re taking responsibility for your feelings and concentrating on the actions and not the person. For example, “You never clean the dishes” communicates a different meaning compared to,  “I get frustrated when the dishes aren’t cleaned.”

The person you’re talking to understands how the action makes you feel and it’s communicated that you aren’t trying to personally attack them. Argument avoided! (Hopefully!)

Fake it consciously!

It can not be understated how easily faking assertiveness, can lead to being assertive. The flip-side to that advice is to be conscious of your surroundings.

Most of human communication is in the form of body language. So stand-up straight, but don’t cross your arms. Be direct, but stay calm.

Understand the differences between yourself and the person you’re communicating with. 90% of confrontational conversations happen because of miscommunication, oversights, and simple mistakes.

Do keep that in mind when communicating an issue, or problem, with someone. There’s a fine, but clear, line between aggressive confrontation and an assertive conversation.

Be honest!

Simple, yet underrated. From the beginning of a project, or interaction, honesty can help avoid a lot of future frustrations. If you’re honest in all of your interactions, when an incident happen, solutions can happen quicker! When in a more confrontational conversation, honesty is the best policy. If the person who you’re talking to knows that you’re being genuine, they will respect you more and be more open to your conversation.

Zaire Johnson will graduate in 2019 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A Computer Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering major, Zaire dreams of serving as the Secretary of State.


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Goal Setting 101

By Jordan Perras

December 7, 2015

I’ve found that one of the most helpful routines I’ve developed in college has been regular goal setting. I sit down with some blank pieces of paper, a bunch of colored markers (and some coffee) to look at what I want to accomplish.

I do this at the beginning of each semester and then again right after midterms. It makes it easier to analyze my progress and identify habits that I should continue to develop, and those that I should try to avoid.

Sitting down to a blank sheet of paper is relatively intimidating, but it is important to understand what you’re working towards.

When writing your goals, use a different color for each category. Include pictures of things are (somewhat) easily drawable. Hang this sheet up somewhere you’ll see it every day. If you’ve got roommates or don’t want other people to see it, hang it in your closet. (Weird trick, but how often does anyone else look in there?)

Identify Your Categories

I’m willing to bet that you have goals that aren’t exclusively academic. As high-achieving college women, you probably have goals in a bunch of different areas. Look at each of them separately and set goals in those categories. Here are a few to consider.

  • Academics – GPA, attending office hours, relationships with professors
  • Extra-curricular activities – leadership in a club, outside lectures on campus
  • Career – Excel trainings, attending networking events
  • Personal/Health – books to read, exercising, healthy eating, enough sleep
  • Relationships – coffee with friends, calling your parents

Think Big

What is the end result you want? These can be as big as your overall life dreams! This is where you really want to stretch your brain and figure out what you want.

  • Get an MBA
  • Become proficient in Excel
  • Graduate magna cum laude
  • Run a marathon

Think Small

What I mean by that is this: How are you going to get there? Those big, life-changing goals do not happen overnight. They take small, measurable, and consistent steps to get from where you are to where you want to be.

  • Sign up to take an Excel class
  • Check a book out from the library

Goal setting can be scary because your big dreams can seem so far out of reach or unattainable. But really, that’s what makes them exciting. Don’t be afraid to dream up crazy goals for yourself and then prove to yourself how awesome you are by daily (or weekly or monthly, you get the idea!) taking baby steps towards those goals.

Jordan Perras is a third-year student at Northeastern University majoring in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Economics.  She has a wide variety of interests that include history, art and literature and plans to pursue an MBA after college. She is especially interested in the role of social entrepreneurship in sustainable business.

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Time to Give Thanks

By Grace Chow

November 6, 2015

Stop and take in your bearings. It’s another year and you are halfway through the semester. It won’t be long until you see the snow stick and start packing to go home for Thanksgiving Break.

However, before you do so, take a moment to reflect and give thanks to all that you have. Family, friends, health—you are gifted with so much that often, it becomes an overload of sorts, one in which you inevitably overlook some boons in your life and take them for granted.

So, before you step on the plane or ride that train, give thanks not only to what you already have, but to the opportunity that you were blessed with to have those things to begin with. Know that you are beyond lucky to have the opportunity for meaningful relationships, the opportunity to stay and be healthy, and the opportunity to have an education.

In our tentative and dynamic world, nothing is constant—incidents happen, people change, life moves on. But, we can hold onto these moments and blessings while we have them.

For me, I do just that by staying connected. I initiate calls and set up lunch dates where I can keep up with old friends and acquaintances. Not only am I honing my networking and communication skills, but maintaining enriching relationships are an instrumental part of my emotional and mental health.

I take the time to go out for a run around my campus’s trails or step into the ring to box. Devoting a part of my day to these tasks is my way of giving thanks to my University for offering these opportunities, but it is also how I appreciate myself. I am worth the time and effort I put into making myself happy and healthy. I am thankful for who I am and the trek I took in getting here, so I have every reason to do what is best for me.

By being thankful for who I am, I am giving thanks to all the opportunities, the people, and the moments that got me here.

So, thank you.

Grace Chow is majoring in finance and sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After she graduates in 2018, Grace plans to go into investment banking. She dreams of starting a non profit someday.

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