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Author: Troycao

An Unbelievable Journey

An Unbelievable Journey

Embrace the unknown. This is the most important advice that I could give to the me that was an anxious and confused student in a completely new life, in a completely new environment. At the beginning of this school year, I felt out of place and afraid that I wouldn’t grow accustomed to life at the University of Michigan. I moved away from everything that I was grew comfortable with: my family, my friends, my city, even that park that I would go to every Saturday morning. It seemed like, all of a sudden, I woke up from a dream and teleported to some alien world with everything new set up for me. Even more, I was never an outgoing person, and so making friends during Welcome Week was extremely hard. I think those few days were one of the most depressing periods of my life, and I had wished I could fly back to New York and embrace the value of every aspect in my previous life that I took for granted.

Welcome week passed, and I realized I didn’t have the leisure to feel homesick. I had to adjust to the dorm experience, knew where all of my classes were, and complete already assigned homework in a matter of days. Life seemed to move at an incredibly fast pace. For weeks, my train of thought was “work hard and push through this semester so that I can go home during Christmas break and live my old life.” However, as it always does, life made its unexpected turn. I had the chance to meet two great friends that I first met during UC 105 discussion, and our bonds grew closer as time passed. I would visit their room around 12 or 1 in the mornings when I needed to destress from overwhelming school work, and would always have a blast having the most random conversations at the most random moments with them. It wasn’t long before I knew that these friendships would last for a long time. As I reflect back, I want to thank them for accepting me, a complete weirdo who has the weirdest tendencies and habits (they know what I’m talking about).

As the school year progressed, I was fortunate enough to make some other great friends by playing basketball with them. Also, my spontaneous walks in the dorm halls helped me make friends as well. I realized that HSSP is such a friendly place; everyone is incredibly nice and considerate. I began to find this new life surprisingly pleasing, and have gradually grew accustomed to it. In fact, I now wish I could be in HSSP for my whole college experience, with the same classmates, peer advisors, and resident advisors. I have developed strong bonds with some resident advisors and peer advisors that I know will last for a long time to come.

Overall, my college experience has been great, and HSSP was 99.99% of the reason why. If my life was a video, I would hit the replay button, starting from my first HSSP experience, a million times. The unknown that I anticipated would be a terrible nightmare was the complete opposite. It would be highly unlikely that I won’t be sentimental when I leave at the end of April for New York. And yes, I have heard of terrible first-year college experiences from many other students. But I bet not one of them was in HSSP. If I could travel back in time, I would tell my frightened self: don’t be afraid of what is going to come in the future, you will definitely enjoy it.

Health And Human Rights: The Case of WillowBrook State School

Health And Human Rights: The Case of WillowBrook State School

Geraldo Rivera’s investigation of WillowBrook State School, a facility that houses mentally disabled people, reveals shocking conditions that question the health and human rights provided to these victims. The patients of this school were living in what looked like prisons, called by Rivera as a “snake pit.” There was one attendant for around fifty children, and each child was fed for 2-3 minutes during meals, shortened from 20 minutes. Rivera described the children as “smeared in their own feces” and they made horrific mourning sounds. The institution lacked hygiene and smelled like “death” and “disease.”

Directly, this atrocious event was a result of a lack of urgency that the state government placed on caring for the mentally disabled. WillowBrook initially lost 600 employees when the New York State struggled financially, and the state decided, in its fiscal plan for 1971 and 1972, to cut the budget for the mental hygiene department from 630 million to 580 million. An additional 200 school attendants were lost. The lost of employees was a huge influence in the drastic decrease in the quality of life at WillowBrook, and led to poorly cared children and unsanitary living conditions. The understaffed faculty was “overwhelmed” by the high number of patients.

Although the conditions presented in Rivera’s documentary were horrific, I think that the video provides a biased opinion about institutionalization. The management of WillowBrook State School may suggest that institutionalization is terribly wrong, but the problem is not institutionalization in general, but the poor management present in a specific case of institutionalization. As Rivera emphasizes, WillowBrook “doesn’t have to be that way.” The conditions of Children’s Hospital in LA, another mental health institution, are strikingly better, and the credit has been given to substantial state government support. This support was given because it was found that, in LA, the mental health institution program cut the rate of institutionalized children in half in just five years. This comparison suggests that the problem with WillowBrook is the lack of adequate government support. Looking at Children’s Hospital, I believe that institutionalizing people with mental health disabilities has positive results, and can be encouraged.

This issue relates to the recent public health discussion because it involves a controversy. Similar to the terrible experiments carried out by the Nazis and the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, the case of WillowBrook State School presents an immoral and wrong perspective in the history of health. In this history, there are many questionable actions health professionals and the government have made that also have serious and controversial implications today, some shown in what Rivera had documented.

End-of-Semester Reflection

End-of-Semester Reflection

The transition from high school to college has been overwhelming. I was unprepared for the increase in personal responsibilities and academic opportunities here at U-M, and found adjustment to the college life difficult at first. This transition was also hard because I felt homesick, used to the life in New York City. The fast-paced city was the complete opposite of Ann Arbor.

Reflecting on my time here at U-M, I’ve noticed that the semester has passed extremely fast. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was fixing my side of the dorm room, introduced to HSSP, and parted from my family. With college, I’ve developed many new experiences, including learning how to do laundry, having a habit of sleeping 1-2 hours later than I did in high school, and eating a buffet at MoJo every day. These experiences became pleasant gradually, as I grew accustomed to this new way of life.

The academic opportunities offered at U-M were also very new to me. Before college, I’ve never taken a class with 200 students, participated in research, and shadowed health professionals. These experiences were very insightful, and motivates me to explore various other opportunities.

I was sitting just outside of Couzens yesterday, admiring the falling snow and thinking about how quickly these 4 months have passed. I think that it felt so unreal because during this time period, I was so focused on living in the moment and dealing with everyday responsibilities that I never thought to look back every so often and think about my journey.

College has demanded that I become a better planner. I learned quickly that I have to take charge of everything I do, from finances to exercise schedules. This transition has been unexpected, but it has allowed me to mature as a person. However, this is only the first section of my college chapter, with many more to come.

IMPROVING OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

IMPROVING OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

JAMA published an article written by President Barack Obama titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Data and Next Steps.” In this summarized dissertation, President Obama outlines the ways in which the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has succeeded and additional progress that’s needed. What caught my attention the most from this article is the prevalence of political tensions regarding the ACA and our healthcare system. For example, Obama asserts that 19 out of 50 states, as of July 1st this year, have not agreed to broaden their Medicaid programs. Also, he releases that, although his administration succeeded in passing 19 bills in support of aspects of the ACA, it has fought over 60 bills threatening to remove the ACA. The Republican Party has been shown to oppose the ACA is numerous other ways as well. The conflicting views of our nation is a major impediment to advancement of health care in the United States.

President Obama specifically warns our nation to work to improve the ACA along with other aspects of our healthcare system. Donald Trump, supporting the Republican Party, advocates removing Obamacare and all of the progress the law has made since 2010. He attacks the aspects of our healthcare system that the ACA has failed to address, which are increasing premium costs and decreasing quality for patients during medical visits. His problem with the ACA seems to be that it hasn’t done enough, which Obama asserts that further improvements require an incremental approach. Trump simply proposes, for his health care reform, that citizens use Health-Savings Accounts, but HSAs have already been implemented. This and other inconsistencies involved with Trump’s health care reform platform is troublesome, eventually if he becomes president. I believe that Clinton has a more effective approach; she advocates Obama’s work in health care reform and proposes to further health care progress began by President Truman.

Two improvements that need to be made to the U.S health care system are expanding health care insurance to provide for people who can’t afford it, and improving the quality of care. Obama addresses the first of this issues by claiming that citizens may not be aware of the financial benefits involved with the ACA or simply need more financial assistance. The second issue is a direct product of the ACA. Because the ACA promotes more insured Americans, hospitals and clinics receive more patients. The huge increase in number of patients compared to a much slower increase in medical professionals is a problem.