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Anxiety and depression at SCCC

By Jillian Acri, Gabby Gambuzza and Myles Jones

At Suffolk County Community College, the topic of anxiety and depression is one that mental health services struggle to cover to the best of their abilities. With the amount of student on campus, and the students that may need mental health services, there simply isn’t enough time in the school day to attend to everyone, and counselors are spread too thin.

Evan Haun

“We only have three counselors on Ammerman, two on Grant, and one on Eastern. At this time, efforts are being made to add another mental health professional,” said Evan Haun, coordinator of Mental Health Services. “The majority of the mental health coordinators’ day is spent in direct student contact.”

Sessions with a counselor typically last 30 minutes, and a student can have up to five meetings throughout the semester. If they need additional services, the counselors will help them seek outside help. Walk in meetings are especially hard for an already busy center.

“Mental health services are continuously busy, especially during midterms, registration, and finals. Periods of transition can be difficult for many students as they are faced with the challenges that come from change, evaluation, and other circumstances.” Haun explained.

They hold many events throughout the semester, the most recent one being the Suicide Prevention Walk, which had a turnout of 129 students. They also have support groups where students can talk to each other about what they are experiencing. If a student decides to take a semester off due to personal reasons, the counselors help them through the process, and assist in acclimating them to their surroundings when they decide to come back.

Despite the issues SCCC is having concerning the lack of counselors, they are well aware of the need for more on all three campuses. However, counselors also stress the need for everyone on campus to work together.

“We’re not isolated islands between different departments: we work actively with CAB, multicultural affairs, career development, the library, and faculty as a whole. Everyone working together is a much more effective model for giving our services and keeping them accessible,” Haun said.

For the upcoming fall semester, the counselors are already deciding new events and ways to incorporate students into the dialogue of anxiety and depression. They plan on creating new support groups, and educating faculty on subjects such as including psychoeducation, mindfulness, creativity, and emotional support for students while teaching.

“There’s still a stigma with the word mental health: people think of mental dysfunction. It’s a phrase that I think we could find more power in.”

During a student’s time in college, more challenges are faced and more responsibilities are handled inside and outside of academics which can add to stress levels.

“College age is already a time if you are going to be diagnosed or struggle with mental health issues, that’s a time where these things just tend to come out. When you add stressors it can make that happen sooner or worse,” said Sarah Boles, coordinator of mental health services.

“Between the ages 18 and 24, many things are happening developmentally. More mental health issues in general are more likely to come out during this time period and creates one big overlap,” she continues.

During such a crucial time in a student’s life, where they are discovering themselves, deciding the field of work they will want to pursue, and other personal endeavors, many students face battles with stress, anxiety, and depression that they previously may have never had issues with.

“You’re making this big transition at a time where things just tend to come out anyway. College does add another stressor, good and bad. It’s not college itself, it’s the time,” Boles said.

Since 2015, Boles states, “There has been a steady increase every academic year in the number of students and faculty who are becoming more aware and visiting the mental health counselors in seek of help.”

It is more often for females to reach out for help, but noticeably more males have been searching for help as well. Their main goal as mental health coordinators is to provide support and making sure it is known to students what their options are.

“In the past, the No. 1 thing that would bring students to a college counseling center is depression,  which is still very common, but it’s interesting because in the past I would say couple years in the five-year window, that’s changed to anxiety related. You see the shift in why people are reaching out for help: they are reaching out because they feel overwhelmed, because they feel anxious and don’t necessarily always know why they’re anxious,” Boles explained.

This is followed by many theories, one being the idea of how connected we are to technology and social media. This newer phenomenon impacts how we feel on a day to day basis. “If you don’t use it in a healthy way, it has more potential to be damaging,” Boles said.

RELATED: How social media plays a role in anxiety and depression for college students

Another theory stated is the economic aspect of pursuing college and the money that goes into education.

While anxiety is considered recently to be the number one reason to bring college students into counseling, Boles mentioned some tips to help relieve nerves.

“It all comes back to finding some sense of balance. Looking at yourself in this holistic way and focus on trying to control what we can. Looking at nutrition and what’s going on in your body and how much time is spent with people who support you,” Boles explained. “It all comes back to prioritizing self-care and checking in with yourself. It feels like it’s not possible because of the level of responsibilities that we have with the little time that we have.”

Students go to the counseling center in different ways, such as being recommended by friends or faculty, and seeking out help on their own. Students are becoming more aware of the services offered and are using them to their best interest. The counseling center is located on the second floor of the Ammerman Building. Students can call for an appointment or even contact Boles and her colleague Evan Haun directly.

Outside support

Not all students find solace in school counselors, however. Some, like 19-year-old occupational therapy major Sydney Geddes, look for outside help or seek it in close friends and family.

Sydney Geddes

Geddes, as well as plenty of other students on campus, suffers from depression and anxiety. It started in her sophomore year of high school and “the snowball effect just took it to a whole other level,” she said, “I was always joyful and outgoing, but I noticed something was off about myself.” She was never happy with herself, which caused her to isolate herself from others.

“I couldn’t explain to my parents why it was so hard for me to get up this morning to go to class because I myself didn’t even know why.”

Geddes, who is African American, said her parents told her “to stop playing around. In black homes, mental health is a joke and it’s never been taken seriously. So we struggle in silence until our actions make the loudest noise.”

Some positive ways that Geddes found to cope with her depression was with music and art.

“Certain music could make or break me, the sounds of the songs are really key for me,” she said. “Between music and art, I’ve been able to find some peace of mind.”

Being a young adult in this day and age, it is very difficult to get off of our phones. Social media can also play a role in depression and anxiety among young adults.

“Social media definitely plays a key role,” Geddes said. “Social media has a tendency to show you how life should be, according to a perfect world, but it doesn’t show you how life actually is without the edited parts. Seeing beautiful women more beautiful than me with great bodies and having wealth and just success made me envy them and only hate myself even more.”

Of course, as a college student,  there are obstacles that can stand in the way of her listening to music, drawing, and painting all day. “Between going to work nearly full-time and being a full-time student, this is pretty stressful, it takes away all of my time to relax.”

Geddes has been off of her medication since she was 17 years old. “They only make me feel worse.”

From going to work right after her classes, Geddes finds herself exhausted at the end of her day with no time to unwind, but to sleep. “All of the things that I have to do throughout the week keeps my mind racing and I guess I don’t catch myself with time to think so I can’t get stuck in my head.”

Despite every other method she’s tried to help extinguish her illness, the main cause for Geddes relief in her depression and anxiety is her boyfriend, Tyler. “Out of all the things I’ve tried, my boyfriend has been the biggest help for me… He helped me learn how to talk about my feelings and not push people away. My life has changed completely ever since.”

‘You’re not suffering alone’

James Stolz, a 19-year-old early childhood education major, considers himself a positive person,  but experiences anxiety and depression.

James Stolz, featured image
James Stolz

“For a good chunk of my life, I was bullied. I was the one who was invisible for a lot of high school, a point in life that involves academics, friends, girls and getting to know yourself. He described himself as the kind of person who was in a shell for most of high school, and it wasn’t until his senior year when he truly felt comfortable in his own skin.

“It felt nice from being someone who was invisible to someone who was recognized,” Stolz said.

Things changed when he enrolled in college.

“Once college started rolling in, it started hitting me. Hard. It just really sucks,” Stolz said.

“There are the days where I feel the pressure because it’s like, instead of doing this, I could be studying or instead of doing this. I could be working on a project due in two weeks, and when that gets in your head, that kind of mindset, where the stress is following you to where you destress — you can’t escape it,” Stolz said.

On days like this, Stolz is surrounded by supportive friends and parents.

Stolz, who plans to transfer to SUNY New Paltz, where he hopes to “fit it,” also copes by playing video games, listening to his favorite podcast and some good music to debunk the anxiety and depressive thoughts that occur to Stolz. On occasion, there are days where he truly does feel the pressure even while enjoying his favorite destressors.

“A lot of us are going through a lot of crap right now in our lives. Makes sense to just be open and let others know you’re not suffering alone.”

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Aramark makes strides to reduce food waste at SCCC

There is a good chance that the Ammerman campus will see its greenest spring semester yet in terms of food waste.

According to Aramark, the campus’ food vendor, there was a reduction in food waste by 322 pounds, or 24 percent, from fall 2017 to fall 2018. The 2019 spring semester was showing a 14 percent reduction in waste in comparison to spring 2018 earlier in the semester.

“Waste and overproduction are a chief concern of our dining operation,” said Rob Reinhard, Aramark’s dining services manager. “We make every effort to minimize waste in our operations by keeping accurate production and consumption records.”

Dining Services on campus uses a computerized menu management system which allows staff to accurately determine just how much food is being purchased on a daily basis. By doing this, it is able to plan for the next day’s menu through careful monitoring of which foods are purchased more than others, Reinhard said.

Preparing smaller batches is also essential to minimizing the waste produced, and it allows customers to be presented with a fresh meal while making sure the kitchen isn’t overproducing food.

“Any items that are remaining are discounted at each dining location to help eliminate waste, and provide value to the students,” Reinhard said.

Perishable goods are sold for very cheap at around 5 p.m. on the Ammerman campus, as the staff begins handing out larger portions of food before closing for the day. They’ll even go as far as giving students a BOGO discount — two trays of sushi for the price of one, for example — to make sure they are throwing out as little food as possible.

Head Supervisor Bernadette Figueiras says she “cries every time she sees the tossed food.”

“Fresh food like pizzas goes in the garbage at the end of the day,” Figueiras said.

Aramark states on its website that it is partnered with The Food Donation Connection, a non-profit that connects it with more than 8,000 shelters, food pantries and community centers to try and decrease their waste. Ammerman campus showcases its very own food pantry that’s always collecting nonperishables that can be purchased in bulk on campus for those in need.

Aramark has made many “biodegradable efforts,” said Christopher Adams, vice president of student services when asked about how Aramark fits into the Ammerman campus’ eco-friendly agenda. He noted how students were much more “socially aware” about such subjects, and praised Aramark for its receptiveness to these concerns. Through its contract with Aramark, SCCC has been able to noticeably reduce food waste in the last few years.

“In fact,” said Reinhard, “we have very little waste in our campus locations.”

Liberal arts majors accounted for more than 40% of SCCC grads in past 5 years

Karen Barrera, 18, is a liberal arts major in her second semester at Suffolk. She chose the major because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study.

“After a semester at Suffolk, I realized there’s nothing wrong with not knowing what I want to study,” Barrera said. “I’ve been thinking of a math professor, but we’ll see what the rest of the semester brings me.”

Barrera isn’t alone.

According to research by Urban.org, 40 percent of students arrive in college with a small idea of what they want to study, or what career they aspire to have in the future. When it’s time to choose a major, it’s usually undeclared or liberal arts, general studies.

In fact, among the five most common majors at Suffolk County Community College, in each of the last five years, liberal arts majors accounted for more than 40 percent of Suffolk’s graduates, according to the school’s 10-year graduation report.

The next most common majors include criminal justice,  nursing and business administration.

Emmanuel Louis-Jeune, 20, is in his third semester at Suffolk. He’s currently studying criminal justice. He grew up watching “Law & Order” with his brothers and uncle and said it played a role in him choosing this major.

“Me and my uncle used to always do everything together, we watched “Criminal Minds” and I grew a huge passion for it,” Louis-Jeune added.

In the 2016-17 school year, there was a 2.6 percent decrease in the number of students who graduated with liberal arts degrees. But that still made up for 42.7 percent of the graduating population.

The 2015-16 school year saw a 4.61 percent increase in the numbers of students in liberal arts from the previous year, with 44.5 percent of students choosing it as their major.

In the 2014-15 school year, there was a minor decrease in the amount of students enrolled, as it was 3729. But, Liberal Arts still remained as the most popular major with 44.7 percent enrolled in it. 16.36 percent of students chose the previous four.

Ammerman’s top 3 oldest student organizations still going strong

Suffolk County Community College, founded in 1959, has seen thousands of students come through its brick-and-mortar walls. As many will attest, it’s difficult to leave a mark of their existence on campus history in such a small span of time. Not everyone can stamp their footprints into the wet cement stairs or scratch their names into tree bark. So what can they do?

One option is to participate in an organization.

Clubs, created by students, have very direct mission statements that restrict what they can or cannot do under their title. Organizations, however, have much broader mission statements, allowing them room to expand and redefine what they do.

While paperwork for clubs and organizations wasn’t necessary until recently—only about 10 to 15 years ago—there are some organizations dating as far back as the beginning of the college itself.

Here’s three of them that have endured throughout the years and still have a prominent campus presence, run by students, for students.

Campus Activities Board (CAB)

Ever walk around the cafeteria and notice there are people handing out stuffed animals? Maybe you have attended a campus movie night, or a highly discounted trip to Broadway. You can thank the Campus Activities Board, or CAB, for that. It’s the oldest organization on campus, having records of ski trips that date back as far as the 1960s and more recent events like the Spring semesters recurring Paint Day, where students were are able to interact with one another while creating art on a canvas.

According to Frank Vino, the adviser for CAB, the organization has a board of three executive members: executive administrative coordinator, executive financial coordinator, and executive recruitment coordinator.

With eight to 10 general members and hosting 30-35 events a year, CAB raises awareness about important issues.

Student Government Association

Making sure that students have a voice is the main goal of the Student Government Association, or SGA. The organization serves as a liaison between students and the administration, representing the student body during meetings and at conferences.

The SGA has an elected board of 12-15 members, including a president, vice president, secretary and financial chair, and an additional number of general members. The elected board is voted in by the general student body, and all students are encouraged to vote in campus elections.

Always busy with campus concerns, the last time the SGA was on hiatus from the late 80s and to the early 1990s. They remain active on campus to this day.

Compass


Extra! Extra!

Compass, the Ammerman campus’ only newspaper, has been navigating news since 1962 and remained loyal to its purpose: to give voice to the student body.

Students submit their works on issues ranging current events, sports news, celebrity gossip and even opinion articles. Compass provides a platform for students to let their voices be read rather than heard across campus on a monthly basis.

“I think that the newspaper has lasted for as long as it has is because of the commitment that students have shown to informing their fellow students about what’s going on in the world, in their communities, and on campus,” said William Burns, adviser to the student paper. “The Compass has expressed the connections between these three public spheres: what happens in one sphere influences the other two.”

The student-run paper is constantly taking submissions and suggestions for more articles and printing copies that are available across campus.

While these organizations have been around for quite some time, they are always looking for new members to continue their mission statements.

It’s important to note that all students are welcome in every organization and are encouraged to take part in campus activities. Whether it’s submitting a small article or running for office, the SCCC community has a spot for every student.

Why do students choose SCCC? 5 people share their stories

Every student at Suffolk County Community College has a different story and a different purpose for attending the school.  Some say it’s the convenience of being close to home. Others seek to save up before transferring someplace else. Others either are still “looking to find themselves” or have come across hurdles in their lives that Suffolk is helping them to overcome.

Here are five people who shared their reason for choosing to come to Suffolk.

Jamie Gilmore, 19
Business retail management

Gilmore, of Middle Island, is a business retail management major. She originally attended Florida Atlantic University last year, but found that to be cost prohibitive.

“It was so expensive to go to FAU, especially since I live here on Long Island. Suffolk is so much more convenient,” Gillmore said. “Plus, I don’t have to worry about eating bad food from the cafe or spending my working money on some decent food. It’s nice to be able to come home every day to a nice home-cooked meal. Going away to college isn’t meant for everyone, but I’m just glad that I at least tried it to see for myself.”

Tanner Bardes, 20
Liberal arts major

Bardes, 20, of Wading River, at first said he wasn’t sure why he came to Suffolk.

“I guess since I saw all of my friends and siblings going to college, I just caught a [Fear of Missing Out],” said Tanner, who said he has a passion for creating music.

“There’s so many times that I believe that I’m wasting my time here when I could be making music and building my portfolio, you know I’ve always enjoyed music so much and eventually I want to be either a rapper or a producer or maybe even both.”

Vincent Alvino, 19
Liberal arts major

Alvino, 19, of Coram, said he’s “Honestly not sure what I want to do yet. Coming here to SCCC is convenient. It isn’t expensive. It gives me options of potential future career opportunities, and it gives me options to go to other schools,” Alvino said. “This is exactly what I need.”

Sydney Geddes, 19
Occupational therapy assistant

Geddes, of Medford, is an occupational therapy assistant and was originally going to the University of Cortland for track until an unfortunate turn in events occurred in her family.

“My dad lost his job and couldn’t help me with my loans for Cortland” after a long sigh, Sydney continued to say “For now, I’m going to make the best of my time here and get my associates degree and then transfer to Stony Brook to finish up.”

“It was early August.” She paused to gather herself after getting choked up. “August 12, 2018, to be exact. I was in my room, checking off items on my list of things to bring upstate with me to college and I heard a knock on my door. I saw both of my parents come in and close the door behind them. My parents never knock and they never both come into my room at the same time so I knew something was up. My heart began to beat nearly out of my damn chest.”

“Depressed wasn’t even the word to describe how I was feeling,” she continued. “But little did I know, this was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I can stay home in my nice comfy bed, keep my job while going to school, and I don’t have to do track anymore so it’s the best of both worlds.”

 

Springfest: A day of relaxation and enjoyment

Lexi Zarbo, Gianni, Dashay Robinson, and Aniecia Jones were on the line for spray tattoos. Each were having a great time and loved SCCC had Springfest. Photo by Michael Fuzie. (May 2, 2018)

Suffolk County Community College hosted its annual Springfest in Veterans Plaza on May 2.  The festival, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowed students to enjoy themselves as the spring semester draws to a close.

Here’s a sample of what was offered.

Rochelle Tharpe, executive administrator coordinator for Campus Activities, said, “I hope everyone has fun as we get close to the end of the semester.”

Tattoo artist Dylan Davereaux readies for the crowds.

Davereaux at work.

The cotton candy line was long until Springfest came to a close.

Joseph Lalota III Student Senator at the SGA booth bad high hopes for Springfest. “People love warm weather and free stuff.”

Lexi Zarbo, Gianni, Dashay Robinson, and Aniecia Jones were on the line for spray tattoos. Each were having a great time and loved SCCC had Springfest.

Students playing Frisbee.

At midday, Springfest was in full swing as the crowd grew large.

Students playing football in the Veterans Plaza field.

What are students listening to behind the earbuds?

Behind the earbuds and behind the clothes, everyone has a different taste in music. We talked to several Suffolk Community College students and asked them about their music taste and who they were currently listening to.

Text by Jacob Alvear and Rich Olson. Photos by Rich Olson.

Alex Passante: Pop, plus

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Alex Passante, 21, enjoys listening to Charlie Puth while keeping up to date with her upcoming assignments at the Babylon Student Center cafeteria. Passante has a broad taste of music, but prefers pop. She likes to throw in a random playlist from a music streaming service like Spotify. Photo Credit: Rich Olson. (May 2, 2018)

Jake Bila: The classics

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Jake Bila, 19, was walking across campus listening to  “Bang! Bang!” from  Joe Cuba and the Sextet, which was featured in the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.” He said he loves to listen to classic rock and older pop music from the likes of Billy Joel and Elton John. Photo Credit: Rich Olson (April 30, 2018)

Dylan Moyse: Kicking back with the old Kanye

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Dylan Moyse, 19, was relaxing in Veterans Plaza listening to music from Kanye Wests’ debut album, “The College Dropout.”  Said Moyse: “I just like all his old music. He’s pretty passionate about it and he talked a lot about his family.”  (May 2, 2018)

Archie Oppong: A$AP Forever

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Archie Oppong, 19, was heading into the library listening to “A$AP Forever” by one of his favorite artists, A$AP Rocky. Oppong says that he listens to a variety of music, including R&B, rock, EDM and rap.  (April 30, 2018)

Jose Mendoza: Soaking up Ziggy Marley’s ‘vibe’

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Jose Mendoza, 19, was relaxing outside during Common Hour listening to “Mmmm Mmmm” by Ziggy Marley, son of the late reggae artist, Bob Marley. “I love his songs, Mendoza said of the younger Marley. “They’re mad chill and they’re a great vibe and it’s what he represents,” adding that Marley is an artist who does his “own thing.”  (May 2, 2018)

Cassidy Major: Alternative to hip hop

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Cassidy Major, 19, spent her early morning on campus listening to Lil Yachty’s song, “COUNT ME IN.” “I love how his music is really upbeat,” Major said. “It promotes good vibes.” She added that she listens to everything from alternative to hip hop.  (April 30, 2018)

Lucas Lewin: It’s all about Kendrick Lamar

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Lucas Lewin, 19, was sitting outside of the Islip Arts building with his headphones on listening to artist Kendrick Lamar’s, “Untitled Unmastered, “specifically the “Untitled 02” track. “He’s very good and doing things that are unique in the hip-hop genre and funny enough,” Lewin said.  (April 30, 2018)

Jack Levinson: Stone Temple Pilots = rock

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Jack Levinson, 20, was making his way through campus listening to Stone Temple Pilots classic hit, “An Interstate Lovesong.” “I consider their music pure rock n roll music and that’s why I enjoy it,” Levinson said.  (April 30 2018)

Furkan Turfanda: Metal rules

Furkan Turfanda Furkan Turfanda, 20, was finishing up lunch while listening to Metallica’s newest album, “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. ”  “I like to listen to everything but for the most part usually metal,” Turfanda said. “It’s engergenic, it’s aggressive, it wakes you up and pumps you up for the day.” (May 2, 2018)

Michael Shelton: A Boogie wit da Hoodie

Michael Shelton Michael Shelton, 19, spent his morning walk listening to rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s song “Beast Mode.” Shelton says he just started listening to him and enjoys other rap artists as well.  (April 30, 2018)