Friday, September 15, 2017

Jasmine's Eyes

Written by Ashli Phillips

Every time I went to North Carolina to visit my family I always had a good time, because my cousins and I were all close. We loved the same activities and had the same personality, but something seemed to separate my cousin Jasmine from the rest of us. When I looked at Jasmine I could tell a distinct difference in her eyes. The sclera’s of our eyes glisten with white where as hers were tinted with a dull lime that resembled pickle juice. When we played sheoccasionally held her stomach so we paused, and she would jokingly laugh and say she was all right and she would resume the game showing no sign of weakness. When the country heat transformed into a blissful breeze, we would retire to the house inviting the scents of outside in with us. Immediately, Jasmine would casually walk to her counter that was a pharmacy of different medications. She would take her different doses, sip some water, and ask "What's next?"
The next day we all said our goodbyes and left the yellow house on the country road. On the drive back I asked my mom why I did not have eyes like Jasmine’s. She chuckled and told me “Jasmine was born with sickle cell." At that age I still did not understand what that meant but I nodded my head in agreement. As I grew older I got to learn about the disease and its effects. Unexplained pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath, were all characteristics of sickle cell, however, it was still hard to correlate the symptoms to my cousin. She was always smiling, energetic, and never really complained much. There was no possible way she was enduring such pain.
In June of 2014 we were informed that Jasmine had been admitted to the hospital. My family and I went down to North Carolina to visit her in the hospital as soon as we could. We traveled through the narrow halls of the hospital to find the IC unit. The receptionist directed us to the third curtain on the right. My dad opened the curtain. My mother, sister and I stood behind him like baby ducks following their mom. When we walked in she was lying down. I could not seem to recognize my once energetic cousin. Although she was unlike herself she never lost her smile, which reassured me that she was okay. With every maneuver she made, her facial expressions showed her agonizing pain. She continued to say she was better than ever. After getting a bit more comfortable, we reminisced on our childhood, took selfies, and watched Vines. Laugher and memories filled the sullen hospital atmosphere. My sister and she were discussing plans for their campus apartment when my father interrupted. He had notified us that it was time to go; we all pouted and hugged her. Leaving the room one by one, I was the last person and I pushed back the curtain and said “Love you Jazz,” unknowing that those would be my last words to her.
A week later I sat in the waiting room of the same hospital that once echoed the sounds of our laughter; I began to reminisce on the times we shared. However, the pain I felt still did not equate to the pain she bared for 20 years. Although sickness blanketed her body she never let sickle cell be an excuse. I learned to take that lesson from my cousin and apply it to my everyday life. I study harder; I push myself out of my comfort zone and do everything to the best of my ability. Problems such as homework or a headache became minute issues to me. I now find it hard to make an excuse for setbacks in my life, because if Jasmine could smile through her pain I know I can too.

Her strength throughout her battle taught me a valuable lesson. I learned to push myself , even when it came time to educate myself about the disease that took the life of my cousin. As a family we started a small foundation called Jasmine’s Sickle Cell Warriors founded in 2014. For the past 3 years my family has organized an annual walk in Rocky Mt., NC. This walk happens every September which is Sickle- Cell Awareness month. Everyone walking donates to the foundation and we walk along the streets holding a banner, chanting, and singing. After the walk, everyone congregates back together for breakfast and presentations from sickle-cell counselors, doctors, and testimonies from those still fighting their battle. The first year about 35- 40 people attended the walk, and the second year our numbers increased to about 60 people.  Every year we hope more and more people come out and learn about a disease that many are not aware of.  Our advocacy for Sickle-Cell has allowed others dealing with the disease a safe spot and comfort when they may feel alone. And for those who are not affected by the disease, it promotes an educational experience in hopes that he or she may spread his or her knowledge. As years continue, we hope to expand the walk to different communities and grow in number of participants no matter the gender, race, age, or disability.

When the odds were against us we came back harder and stronger as a unit. That was a lesson that Jasmine taught us through her battle and to this day we all live by it in efforts to find a cure. In my own personal efforts to advocate for sickle-cell awareness, I hope to find research opportunities that will allow me to be hands on in the process of finding a cure.
Ashli is a Sophomore, pre-dental student and an all around sweetheart.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September Newsletter

Last month has been a whirlwind for S&S! We had the first part our campus debut at the SOVO fair and the second part at our first GBM/Interest Meeting. Both instances had incredible turn outs. We have over 100 people signed up for our mailing list and had an overflow at the GBM. If you couldn't make it (no worries), we have the PowerPoint uploaded under the 'Resources' --> 'Recaps' tab in the navigation bar.

This Month...

September is off to a strong start. We partnered with Be The Match for their Honors College and we are incredibly humbled that they allowed us to be a part of such an important event. Our first S&S Study sessions are taking place this month and we can't wait to see how they turn out. As we mentioned in the meeting, we hope to one day have study sessions that are dedicated to specific areas of study. So if you're interested in leading one, shoot us an email.

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

This month is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and we're acknowledging it the whole way through. If you are passionate about Sickle Cell and want to help get the word out, feel free to submit a blog post or use our hashtag #sasatvcu so we can repost/retweet your thoughts.

S&S Study Sessions

Academic excellence is a key component of the mission here at S&S. The link to sign up for our weekly study sessions can be found under 'Resources' --> 'S&S Study Sessions'. At the latest, sign up will be available on the Monday before the study session is scheduled to take place. As we said in the meeting, there is a cap of 12 people. If we notice that a lot more than 12 people are interested, we'll do our best to reserve another/bigger space. Don't worry, we'll make an announcement when sign ups become available.

Upcoming Events:

  • Our 2nd GBM is on September 21st at 6 PM in VA Rooms A (located in the commons, as soon as you go up the stairs). We will have Dr. Kelli Gary, an assistant professor at the Dept. of Occupational Therapy, come and speak to us! We are very excited to have her!
  • Our next Study Session is on September 14th at 7 PM at Cabell Library -- Sign up here

Sunday, August 27, 2017


S&S at the SOVO Fair

Hello and welcome to the official blog of Sisters & Stethoscopes! Today's post is just a little intro just to get you acquainted to who we are as an organization and "show" you around our site.

Our E-Board leaving SOVO Fair

A Little bit about us

S&S was started by a few of the ladies of the 2016 VCU Acceleration cohort.  It was one of the last sessions of their UNIV 291 class, one of their male classmates gave a presentation about Black Men in Medicine and they figured it was only right that the Black ladies of VCU's prehealth community had a space too. We didn't want this space to be exclusive to just pre-med students, since Black women are underrepresented on all fronts of health care. So the name, for starters had to be universal. After months of brainstorming, we finally decided on "Sisters and Stethoscopes".  Since then, we've been working hard to put things together that will be fulfilling to this organization and hopefully to the Richmond community.

About the Blog...

This blog will serve as a central location for all things S&S. If you're a desktop user, then you should be able to locate the search bar and social media icons to the right. If you're a mobile user, then these features can be found at the end of this page. The navigation bar is your friend! There, you'll find our mission, membership guidelines, and info on how to submit posts for the blog.
Go ahead, look around!

Keep in Touch

You may have landed on this page through the link that was within the email we sent you. If that's the case, then congrats, you're on our mailing list! Don't worry, we won't bombard you with any spam-y emails. Also, don't forget to follow us on Social Media-- IG & Twitter: sasatvcu // FB: Sisters and Stethoscopes at VCU.

One last thing...

Our first GBM is on August 31st at 6 PM in Virginia Ballroom A. 
We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Executive Board 2017-2018

Andacia Rhyne, President
Hello, everyone my name is Andacia (And-duh-see-uh) and I'm a sophomore majoring in Sociology on a Pre-Medicine advising track. I look forward to serving as your president and I can't wait to see what this organization will become.

Fun Facts:
I have 3 sisters
I have a blog
I've become a huge fan of "Breaking Bad" and "Shameless"

Chenel Hodges, Vice President
Hey y’all, I’m Chenel Hodges and I’m a sophomore here at VCU. Currently I am a Psychology major who is considering minoring in History. I love community service and giving back to those who are less fortunate. I was raised by my grandparents so I’m pretty traditional and old fashioned, which isn’t always a bad thing. I was born and raised here in RVA and I’m absolutely in love with my city. I aspire to be a Occupational Therapist who primarily works with children who have mental disabilities. Some of my favorite foods are pasta, pasta, and pasta. Also, I can throw down on some rice, let me tell you how much this girl likes her grains. I’ve been told I’m pretty loud once you get to know me but I like to think of myself as shy and reserved. My idea of a good time is movies, museums, food, and mini adventures(not anything hardcore that requires sweat). I love to do my makeup and buy as much makeup as my bank account will allow. I think I’m pretty fun. I can’t wait to get to know each and everyone of you and thanks for being a part of this journey!

London Armstrong, Secretary
Hello, my name is London (like the city) and I’m a Sophomore majoring in HPEX with an exercise science concentration on a Pre-med track. I am not only the secretary of S&S, but a member of Aspire, the Honors college, and NAACP at VCU. I have a passion for helping others and social action whether it is within the medical field or in the world around us. Entering college, I was set on becoming a sports medicine doctor, which isn’t common for not only women but people of color. Although I still am very interested, I am keeping my eyes open because I just may fall in love with another field where I can help people in many ways.

Fun Facts: I am from NY, I love pasta, and I am the oldest of three.

Porsia Childs, Treasurer
My name is Porsia Childs and I'm the treasurer of S&S. My major is pre-nursing and I would like to provide exceptional care to patients to ensure that they trust and feel comfortable with healthcare professionals.

Fun Facts: My favorite color is yellow and my favorite food is macaroni and cheese.