The Amazonian Spring 2016

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Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated

Spring 2016


Growing Up Broken “I Don’t Need Therapy” A Mental Health PSA Why You Can’t Stop Eating Hector’s Story It’s Only Natural: Breastfeeding

Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc. National Governing Council 2015 - 2017 Josie Rios Haumea National President

Dear Sisters, These past two years have been an amazing experience for me as your National President. It has been a pleasure watching our sisterhood grow and flourish! As an organization we have accomplished so much and we should be proud of ourselves.

Lorimar Santiago Concordia National Vice President Arlene Oviedo Amazona National Secretary Kathy Otero Mosaic National Treasurer Lillian Sierra Founding Mother National Officer of Membership Sylvia Vigo-Smith Founding Mother National Assistant Officer of Membership Rachele Hall Nysa National Officer of Expansion Ana Estevez Zaona National New Chapter Advisor Vivian Moreno Arnobit Matriarca National Historian Ashley Brevil Haumea National Officer of Communications

In Fall 2015 our chapters contributed over 880 hours of community service and almost $1,200 towards our national and chapter philanthropies! This is a huge accomplishment and I congratulate each and every one of you who took part in this achievement. I would also like to highlight our hard working undergraduate sisters for achieving an average GPA of 3.1 last semester. Your dedication to our 3 goals: Academic Excellence, Unity Among all Women, and to be Active in our Communities is commendable! This year, we will mark our 12th annual convention and our convention committee has been working hard to bring you our best convention yet, full of bonding, training, and celebration alongside our brothers of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Incorporated. They have some amazing surprises in store for you this summer in Atlantic City so if you haven’t registered you should get on it! On behalf of your National Governing Council I would like to I applaud you for your continued passion for MSU because without each and every one of you there would be no MU. I challenge you to continue to strive forward with purpose, with pride, and with a sense of mission to improve our communities!

Monifa Ellis Zaona National Step Director Carolina Velasquez Aretias National Officer of Community Affairs

Josie Rios NGC President 2014-2016

Ashley Hill Haumea National Programming Chair Yessica Martinez Miakardia National Officer of Retention

Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated was founded on November 21, 1981, at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ as the first multicultural minority Greek letter society in the nation.

Danielle Smith Amazona National Officer of Risk Management

Founding Mothers Eve Bracero, Lillian Sierra, Karinee Candelario, Ruth Gonzalez, Sylvia Vigo

Inside this Issue 1 “I Don’t Need Therapy” A Mental Health PSA 3 Why You Can’t Stop Eating 4 Sister Profiles: Nicolle Arendt, Mary Mozia 6 Our Chapters: Yemaya 8 Cover Story: Survivor 11 Growing Up Broken 14 Hector’s Story 17 It’s Only Natural 19 Fall 2015 Graduates

Editor’s Desk I hope you’ll enjoy reading this issue of the Amazonian newsletter. We have had many wonderful contributions featuring articles that are near and dear to each of our sisters. I want to caution you as you read that some of the content may trigger some emotional reactions. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence please know that there is help available. In Sisterhood & love,

Ashley Brevil

National Officer of Communications

The Amazonian Official newsletter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc Editor Ashley Brevil National Officer of Communications Contributing Writers Ashley Hill, Haumea Chapter Angelica Beverly, Dhyani Chapter Iris L. Mendez, Freyja Chapter Nadia Khalil, Amazona Chapter Nicolle Arendt, Haumea Chapter Eulalia Thomas, Boetia Chapter Monica Lamourt, Haumea Chapter Maria Mozia Cobb, Emeritus Chapter Design & Layout: Sabrina Colón, Dhyani Chapter On the cover: Ashley Hill, Haumea Chapter The Amazonian is published three times a year. Send inquiries and submissions to: PO Box 7728 North Bergen, NJ 07047

Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated



Mental Health

“I Don’t Need Therapy” A Mental Health PSA Iris L. Mendez, MSW

MENTAL HEALTH … I recently had conversations with a few friends about mental health where I realized the lack of education and information that people have on mental health disorders and treatment. It’s hard to believe that mental health still has a negative stigma, especially among the minority population. In my culture and community, we are encouraged to utilize are own methods to deal with some of our stress, life transitions, and trauma without fully being aware of the actual effects it has on our brain and it’s development or lack thereof. We internalize, self-sabatoge, and utilize our own self-medication processes to treat ourselves such

as drugs, alcohol, poor nutrition, sugar, and other toxins which may not be conducive to our well being and may in fact be contributing to our mental health issues. We are afraid of using alternative medicine options such as pure grade essential oils, yoga, proper nutrition, exercise, mindfulness meditation, reiki healing, massage therapy, and deep breathing techniques to assist with our daily life stressors when research shows these methods have been utilized for centuries to promote and increase our overall health and well-being especially in the mind! *The above are not recommendations or suggestions for mental health treatment, please consult with a physician or your mental health professional.*

It’s 2016… Why is mental health still so taboo? Why are people so afraid to get their brain/minds checked? Why do people believe, “talking to a stranger about my problems won’t help me.” STOP, STOP, STOP!! Therapy isn’t just TALKING! Mental health professionals do not spend tons of money and time in school to learn how to “talk” to people. We learn about the brain, the body, various mental health disorders, diagnosis, different therapeutic treatments, modalities, interventions, and even medicine the same way a physician or doctor The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 1

learns about the body, disorders, medicine, diagnosis, and treatment. Treat mental health the way you would physical health. If you broke your leg would you leave it untreated? & even if you did and it “healed itself ” it wouldn’t properly heal, you would forever have long term effects as a result of it being untreated. Same thing goes for untreated mental health. The longer you prolong treatment the more detrimental your effects, which may require a more severe form of treatment including inpatient intervention and medication or worse-be too late to treat. Would you get physical therapy for your leg if it were broken? Yeah! .. So why not get therapy for your mind! Take care of your mind -it’s the core being of your existence aside from your spiritual being! Psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed professionals such as counselors and social workers all have various techniques, therapeutic modalities, and approaches to treating mental health. Do your research on the type of treatment you may need and find a clinician who primarily services that area AND your population. If you’re already aware of a possible diagnosis then look into a therapist who specializes in that area. When you don’t like a doctor or a physician’s approach what do you do? You find another one right? …. If you don’t like their interpersonal skills, opinion, or bedside manners you would consider a different physician.. correct? Use this SAMEEE approach for mental health! I have been in therapy (and not ashamed of it) where I did not like a therapist or the approach 2 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

because I knew what modality or treatment was best for me and I did not approve of their approach… and guess what, I switched, found a new therapist, got the treatment I needed, and am now well and coping. Here are some common therapeutic interventions, treatment, and approaches: • Cogntive Behavioral TherapyCBT • Trauma Focused-CBT • Psychotherapy • Group Therapy • Individual Therapy • Couples Therapy • Family-Focus Therapy-FFT • Art Therapy • Play Therapy • Drama Therapy • Dance Movement Therapy • Addictions Counseling • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy • The Maudsley Method • The Sanctuary Model • Solution-Focused Therapy & Counseling • Motivational Interviewing • Mindfulness Meditation • Medication • Crisis Intervention • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing-EMDR • PsychoEducation (what I’m doing right now via this blog) *These above are just a few therapies off the top of head; these are not recommendations or suggestions for mental health treatments-please do your research or consult with a physician and your mental health professional* Each of the above interventions have their own methods of providing therapy for specific

diagnosis and mental health disorders. Stop making mental health so taboo!!! You go to the dentist for your teeth, optometrist for you eyes, GI doctors, primary care physicians and more-all for your body-so do the same for your mind! Your mind is just as important as your body. Treat it right!! Get a “check up from the neck up”. To those of you who suffer in silence: you are not alone and there is help. You are not your illness and your illness is not adjective. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Continue on your path towards healing, get treatment, and there’s no need to be ashamed or embarrassed. You can get through this. Embrace your journey and share your story. You never know who you may inspire. To my fellow mental health professionals, don’t doubt your abilities to help others but also remember to help yourself! Don’t be ashamed of seeking your own mental health support and treatment even if it’s just to cope and learn new strategies for yourself. How to find resources: Contact your insurance provider regarding behavioral health and mental health coverage in your area. Take a look at my resource page for resources on mental health. http:// Hope this helps! Together we can help break the mental health stigma. Remember: “Change begins in your mind.” Let’s get our minds right.

Physical Health

Why You Can’t Stop Eating True or False? You have an unhealthy relationship with food. FALSE. False on all accounts. You can’t have an unhealthy relationship with something that is a necessity to your body. Food is fuel. Food is required and needed to function. Food repairs and restores your vital organs and muscles. Food feeds your mind body and spirit. Food is delicious. Food is medicine. Food is satisfying to your senses. Most importantly food… real food that is… is healthy. Therefore, you cannot have an unhealthy relationship with it. To be clear it is not food that you have an unhealthy relationship with it’s food additives. Its preservatives, artificial ingredients, simple sugars like high fructose corn syrups and MSG that you cannot establish a positive connection with. You have an unhealthy relationship with all of these ingredients because they are unhealthy. They are detrimental. They are addictive. They create weight gain and impulsive desires because you cannot reach a level

Coach Nadia K

of satisfaction. You overeat because that’s what these ingredients are chemically created to do! You will never be able to have a healthy relationship with real food if these ingredients are including in your nutritional intake.

it’s way into it’s own diagnosis. And it is for a reason. This is where you feel less shame and embarrassment: you are one of billions of people that face this struggle.

So then you can’t stop eating…..

Detrimental thoughts, addictions and behaviors are the source of binge-eating and recovery is possible. Identifying that you are a victim of this disease is where it starts. You can be diagnosed by a health professional. Assessing your emotional well-being can help significantly. Working closely with a Coach can assist you in changing your eating habits, in fostering positive feelings about food, enhancing your emotional wellbeing and eliminating body image conflicts.

These ingredients are so addictive that you find yourself binge eating to achieve a level of satisfaction. Sadly that level is never reached because these foods create the “bottomless pit” feeling within us. This leads to self sabotage, guilt, disgust and regret with yourself. You feel embarrassed so you don’t talk to anyone about it. Then you try to desperately alleviate those feelings on your own by eating more. This is a vicious cycle and this is why you can’t stop eating. Binge eating is becoming an epidemic and has recently been identified as a disease. It was once considered a side effect of other eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia but has slowly made

This vicious cycle can be broken

Keep in mind that you are not ill because of your relationship with food. The crappy ingredients in the food you eat can make you ill. This makes you a victim to addiction versus someone who is gluttonous.

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Sister Profile Undergrad

Nicolle Arendt Haumea Chapter Spring 2015

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What significant contributions have you made to your chapter, University, or Community? Before becoming a sister, I was initiated into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars during my Freshman year. Since becoming a sister of MSU, I'm currently undertaking four positions in my chapter (Treasurer, Social Chair, Officer of Greek Affairs, and PR chair). I am currently the Greek Seasons director on my campus, predicted to organize for 11 organizations to participate (the biggest in my campus' history). I am Chapter Assistant Officer of Membership to the Kekoa Po'e Line of the Haumea Chapter (Spring 2016). I am currently on the MSU Convention Committee as an undergraduate liaison for 2016. I am currently the frontrunner to become the Treasurer of our Diversified Greek Council on my campus. I began an initiative for regular volunteering with Clean The World, a nonprofit organization concentrated on recycling gently used bath products and toiletries for children in third world countries. I am working my way up to becoming a facilitator by summertime for a college bible study group called "Bridge".

better person. To this day, I have yet to experience that feeling within any other social group I've been a part of.

What is your most memorable part about being a sister of MSU? I cannot pick between these two moments: when I crossed, and when I attended my first national convention last year in Tampa, FL. As a solo, it was unexplainably heartwarming to have been able to cross into the baby blue and white light with my linesisters as opposed to by myself. It was one of the best weekends of my life. My first national convention was incredibly exciting, as I got to meet more of my linesisters, many sisters from various chapters and semesters, and I met Founding Mother Ruth Gonzalez for the first time. Although I am fortunate enough to see Founding Mothers Lillian Sierra and Sylvia Vigo regularly, I have yet to find the words the describe the gratitude for the five women who are responsible for completely transforming my life, so all I really did was cry as I hugged and thanked her.

Why did you choose to join Mu Sigma Upsilon?

What are your goals outside of the organization and how are you working towards them now?

I was never treated like a number, which is extremely important when attending a campus with over 65,000 students. I was in a very dark place before the jungle and being around sisters pulled me out of that with their positivity and their friendliness. I always wanted the bond the sisters around me exhibited. I never had very many friends and I sought to obtain lifetime connections with women that could empower me to be a

Outside of Mu, I hope to pursue Physical Therapy at UCF or the University of St. Augustine after graduation. I am looking into facilities offerring internship experience, and I plan to take the GRE over the summer in order to begin applying for various Physical Therapy programs. Ideally, I would like to join either the Air Force or the Marines, as my ultimate career goal is to work as a Physical Therapist for Disabled Veterans.

Sister Profile Alumna

Mary Magdalene Ndidi Mozia Emeritus Chapter Spring 2004

What significant contributions have you made to your chapter, University, or Community? Being a sister for almost 12 years now I have made several contributions to my chapter, university, and community. I have served in every position in my chapter including alumni advisor, I have made financial contributions to my chapter, I have assisted in being cacique or cocacique several times to help with our growth. I have served as the representative for our inter Greek senate as well as sat on the board as Vice President. For my university I have worked for the school and performed community services both on and off campus-the most memorable being campus clean up. I have tutored students.I have been part of committees and teams and represent the college and university at several events,lunches and community service. With regards to the community my greatest contribution is the service I give. I have been part of group and individual community service such as soup kitchens and assisting to build homes. I have tutored outside of school and done gift wrapping at malls. I feel like contributing back to all aspects allows the betterment of each and leaves a better place for the future. I feel like I have been given opportunities and work so they are available to others as well

Why did you choose to join Mu Sigma Upsilon? I chose this organization because I value diversity and giving women a voice. I have always been a very motivated individual and not one to let anything stand in my way including being African American or being a woman. To be part of an organization whose foundation is built on these things was ideal for me. I wanted to give back to my community and university and even though Emeritus is small they definitely made an impact and a difference in both areas. I also loved the networking not only within the organization but with other people, groups, and organizations as

well. That was huge for me. I love helping out others and receiving the same assistance and I love the professionalism in which MSU did it. Above all I just loved the sisterhood. Before I joined the organization I just loved the realness they portrayed and new it was the perfect fit for me.

What is your most memorable part about being a sister of MSU? I have many memorable experiences as an MSU sister. So much has happened. I have to say My most memorable experiences being an MSU sister had to be when I crossed my first line. I was so proud of them and myself for completing the process. Another big moment for me was winning the Luci DiPini scholarship/award. Education is huge for me and to getting that award to assist with my education had to be a pivotal moment for me. I do have to also mention that the day I was elected district president was very important to me. It marked a growth to me as a sister and a person.

What are your goals outside of the organization and how are you working towards them now? Well the biggest goal I have at this point is to finish my masters program and become an adult/ geriatric nurse practitioner. Once finishing my masters program I am hoping to join the practice I am currently orienting with and/or serve as a house MD for a hospital. I am also interested in working in an ER as well since I love emergency medicine. I also plan in the next 5-10 years to open a clinic in an urban area with 3 other Nurse practitioners who are close friends of mine. Upon finishing school I also wish to dabble in real estate and hopefully obtain my real estate license and try to flip and sell homes as well and build that business. Whatever God has planned for me I am open to. The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 5

Our Chapters

Angelica Matos, Yesenia Armendariz, Jenelle Lewis, Samantha Soto, Esperanza Pacheco and Christina Okoye

Yemaya Across the 7 continents, through the 7 seas. They’ve landed and they’ve brought far more than the eye can see. Yemaya originates from the Yorùbán tribe of Nigeria in West Africa. She is one of the seven African powers, and some consider her the divine mother that gave birth to all of the world’s waters. She is considered the divinity of the sea and loving mother of mankind, she is known as the Mother Goddess. For the founders, Yemaya represents that life cannot exist without water, in the same way that any future line cannot exist without a beginning, a creation or a founding line of Mu Sigma Upsilon 6 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

Sorority, Incorporated at Lehigh University first and foremost. Yemaya represents both change and constancy – bringing forth life, protecting it and changing it as necessary – much in the same way, that we were hoping to bring change to our campus and paying due diligence to make sure that not only the necessary changes are made in the ever-evolving organization of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated but also protecting the traditions and sanctity that have been passed on for the last 30+ years. This was part of our line name proposal submitted 4 years ago. On April 22, 2012, Earth Day, 7 women comprised of Puerto Rican,

Malaysian, Mexican, Jamaican, Curaçaoan, and Nigerian descent founded the 48th undergraduate chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc. at Lehigh University, the first private university in Pennsylvania to have a chapter of MSU. While none of the founders were from the state of Pennsylvania and 5 out of the 7 of the founders were seniors, there was certainly fears of what would come for our chapter and its survival and success. One of the first things we did as a chapter, was create short – term and long – term goals that we would all support to ensure they came to fruition and let faith do the rest. Some of those goals included: have an MSU signature program per semester, aim for Gold Accreditation (Lehigh University’s yearly Greek accreditation rank process), earn no less than 4 Stars on our STAR Reports, do not

go dormant, establish Yemaya Signature Events, 20 sisters in 5 years, have at least one Yemaya sister on District/NGC Boards, and create and maintain bonds with other districts. At the time, we knew that some of these goals may or may not be attainable just as we weren’t sure if bringing MSU to a PWI with only one other culturally – based organization on campus was a challenging goal to achieve as well. Since then, the Yemaya Chapter has had seven sisters join our chapter from Spring 2013 through Fall 2015 – thus doubling in size in just 4 years, we have dedicated, beautifully diverse chapter sisters that have added Peruvian, Irish/Scottish, El Salvadorian, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, African American and Filipino descent to our chapter diversity. The Yemaya Chapter has never earned less than 4 stars on our STAR Reports, and in Spring 2015 even earned a 5. One of our sisters that helped breathe new life into our chapter, Gladys Castellon saw to it that MSU became a force to be reckoned with on Lehigh’s campus. Since her time as a sister, she has helped gain new collaborations and sponsorships for our Fall signature event, Dining in the Dark and helped finally start Greek Seasons, an event that had been on our

Gladys Castellon

minds for a few semesters. At one point, Gladys was the only sister on campus for a full year, while she was only a sophomore at the time – her time as a solo definitely gave her the assertiveness and presence to bring the Yemaya Chapter to the next level. Not only has she recently been recognized as the Greek Leader of Distinction at NGLA (Northeaster Greek Leadership Association) she has also seen to it that Yemaya receive Gold Accreditation in 2014 - 2015, which is the highest honor for Greek chapters at Lehigh on superb leadership, intellectual, organizational and community development. Lehigh University’s Accrediation Committee stated, “In Mu Sigma Upsilon’s three years at Lehigh University they have established many meaningful partnerships with Lehigh offices, organizations, alumnae, and the Bethlehem community. The Committee commends the chapter for utilizing these partnerships to educate members in a holistic manner, develop heavily involved leaders, and promote diversity and inclusion. The Committee hopes to see Mu Sigma Upsilon sustain these initiatives while being intentional to prevent burnout among their members.” From the Yemaya Founders – who have served as District III and

VII Board members, Cacique, CoCacique, Step Team members, and NGC Officer- to the Oshun, Ogbuide, Obatala and Ibeji lines, Lehigh has seen and continues to see sisters of integrity, passion, intelligence and perseverance. As a founder, who has recently become active again to be Cacique for what may be the last time, who hasn’t been able to see her chapter in person for going on two years now, and has had her flame reignited - I can truly say we are blessed to have sisters that continue to remain dedicated to MSU and our chapter near and far, and undergrads who show what it means to have the flame remain ignited in their hearts. While life has taken us on several journeys in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., Arizona, Malaysia, California and North Carolina - when I think of Amira, Yesenia, Jenelle, Joshira, Samantha, Tina, Esperanza, Laura, Tiara, Vanessa, Gladys, Angelica and Djenne, one quote comes to mind, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive: and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style,” said by the phenomenal Maya Angelou. For that, I say thank you for being my long – distance sisters and bringing new tides to Lehigh and MSU.

Angelica Bernal, Gladys Castellon & Djenne Dickens

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Ashley Hill

We’ve all heard the stories. We’ve seen them play out in movies like Enough and Sleeping with the Enemy. Girl meets Boy. Girl Falls in love with Boy. Boy physically abuses Girl and Girl quietly suffers until she just can’t take it anymore. Suddenly the Girl has overtaken her abuser, beaten the system and rides off into her happily ever after. The reality of surviving an abusive situation is that “happily ever after” isn’t waiting as soon as the credits begin to roll. The days, months and years after bring their own struggles and trials. Triggers hide in the simplest of statements, the most comedic of situations and even in the eyes of another that you have attempted to give your heart to. The after effects of such a violent altercation do not ever go away and are something that must be fought regularly. I was 17 years old when I met Him. I remember driving to a summer barbecue as one of my friends talked excessively about some guy she had just met and how 8 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

he had a friend she could already see me with. I also remember her specifically saying “Don’t mess up and fall in love”. As any teenage love story goes that’s of course exactly what I did. He was my first everything and had my heart in its entirety as I hadn’t yet learned how to hold part of myself back. I had never been hurt romantically by a man, never been cheated on or had my heart broken. He was my happiness, my everything. It became apparent from the beginning that we came from two separate worlds. He had been born and raised in South America and hadn’t moved to the U.S. until he was in high school. He had very specific views on women and their role in a relationship and that Machismo never went very far with me. We were different but it worked. I was close with his family as he was with mine. We were inseparable and at times you could barely see where one of us began and the other ended. The red flags began a few months

into the relationship. I had left for a college about a month after we began dating, while he stayed behind in my hometown about two hours away. The flares of jealousy and his constant need to know my whereabouts began to show themselves then. The possessiveness slowly began to assert itself, quietly and then all at once. When we would fight they would be heated, passionate I would say. It was about six months in when he punched the first hole in the wall inches away from my head. In the two years that we dated there was not one apartment he resided in that didn’t have at least one hole marking a fight between us. The emotional abuse had always been there but escalated during my second semester in college. I had always been confident, secure in myself and my goals for the future. After six months of dating him I barely recognized myself. The constant degradation and hateful words that would spew out of his mouth had already taken an ugly

hold in my self perception. By the end of the first year my closest friends were barely on speaking terms with me as I had pushed away any reminder of the fact that I was barely a shadow of who I used to be. I continued on this path with him throughout the rest of 2007. I would live for the good days, the days where I was the light of his life, his girl, his love. As always that cycle would end and the verbal abuse would be back, worse than ever before. He made me feel like a slug, something that didn’t even deserve a second glance, something that could be kicked aside with a foot. Too disgusting to be handled or addressed. At this point I had pushed my family so far away that we were barely on speaking terms. I hadn’t seen or spoken to my mother in months and He was essentially all that I had. One of my childhood friends came to Florida that winter. She was staying with her grandparents and had asked to get together. We went out several times while she

was in town, my boyfriend was on his best behavior and she was captivated by his act. Then came his birthday, December 27, 2007. My friend and I had gone out to dinner with my boyfriend and his friends. We then went back to his house to hang out since it was his 21st and we were both too young to go out with his group. I remember locking my friend and I in his room before going to sleep because I had already encountered some of his drunken actions and I didn’t want anything like that to happen when my friend was sleeping over. We woke up around 2 a.m. to the sound of pounding on the door. Drunken screaming filled the house and we were both terrified. I tried to calmly speak through the door to him, asking him to please sleep on the couch and we would talk in the morning. Unfortunately he was well past rational thought or action. He began to breakdown a solid wood door with his bare fists until he could get it open enough to get to us. That is the last thing I remember

clearly. Everything that happened after was a blur. I remember being thrown against a wall and then not much after that. What shook me out of whatever haze I was in was when He turned to go after my friend. My body kicked into fight mode and I somehow startled this 6’8 man enough that I was able to grab my friend and my purse and run out of the house. We had managed to make it into my car before he caught up with us. He stood behind my car blocking our exit unless I wanted to run him down. I pleaded with him to just let us go. To this day I do not know how long this lasted but finally and miraculously he did. I then drove two and a half hours back to Orlando. It wasn’t until the morning that I realized what had happened to me. I was battered and bruised and completely numb. While the threats, stalking and verbal abuse continued well into 2008, that was the last day I ever saw him.

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The year 2008 was a year of healing for me. I had to learn to come to terms with myself, and what had happened. Victim blaming is a real thing. It isn’t just what others say, its the mental anguish that you also bestow on yourself. I can honestly say that it took me until that fall to learn how to forgive him and most importantly learn how to forgive myself. The first time I ever used the word Survivor was almost a year later. I don’t know when the switch happened but I do know that Mu had a lot to do with it. I found myself while pledging this organization and I began the process of dealing with my demons and accepting my journey. The after effects come and go.

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Relationships in the beginning were extremely hard. I built a wall around myself so thick and tall that no human could scale them. Not to mention any spurt of temper or anger would instantly send me into panic. It’s been eight years and I still have triggers. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a comedian making a senseless joke. Or when scenes of domestic violence cases are played out across the media in instances like that of Ray Rice or Chris Brown and Rihanna. It is important to realize that having these reactions are okay and are nothing to be ashamed of. It’s really the shame that is the hardest part to work through as well as the self hatred.

Use my pain as your reason to survive. You are worth more. I continue to speak out against Dating and Domestic Violence because I want people to be able to put a face to all of those nameless statistics. I am the one in those 1 out of every 3 women. I was beaten by the one who was supposed to love me and I am one of the lucky ones who lived to talk about it. Love doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t degrade you or make you feel less than yourself. Use my pain as your reason to survive. You are worth more. My name is Ashley Hill, and I am a Survivor.

Angelica Beverly

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Living in Sayreville, New Jersey, I grew up as a pastor’s child. In church almost every day of the week. My parents were both pastors and they had a church in Brooklyn, New York. Everyone knew and loved the Beverly’s. No one really knew what was really going on behind closed doors. My father had an anger problem. He was very abusive to my mother, sister and I. Both my sister and I were born prematurely. My mother was the breadwinner so she was always working. My father worked for a little but mainly stayed at home. As a result, my sister and I spent a lot of our time with our father. My sister and I had a strong fear for our father. My parents argued plenty of times. My mother called the police a lot on my father because of his anger. I have so many vivid memories of his anger that was displayed when I was a child.

this table until you eat everything” So, like any child would, I sneakily got a napkin and wrapped the food in it. I got up from the table and threw out the food. I said finished my food. My father saw me and yelled “Go into the trash and eat that food.” In my father’s eyes I saw seriousness. My father had this look that used to scare me in order control me. Anytime he used this I burst into tears. I was terrified of him. So as I walked over to the trash can, my mother got up from the table and said “No one is eating anything from that trash can or someone is going to jail tonight.” My mother called the police that night. They came and my dad had to leave for a few hours. One of the police officers that came to our house every time was also my school’s resource officer. He was the only one who knew about my father.

When I was 7 years old my father brought food home for all of us to eat. I didn’t want to eat the food because it looked disgusting and he told me “you’re not getting up from

One day my mother tried to leave my father and tried taking us with her. He was furious and told my sister and I to get ready. While my sister and I were in the shower my

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parents came in. My dad shoved my mother and they continued to argue. My mother called the police. They came and talked to my father first. I knew something was wrong. Anytime someone talked to my father he always got what he wanted. All he had to say was he was a pastor. People always respected a pastor. The police officers asked “who watches the kids the most?” My father said I do.” My mother said, “This is true” to confirm. The police asked my sister and I “Who hit who?” She said “my dad hit my mom.” My father said “Angelica didn’t your mom hit me first?” Then he gave me the look. I lied, “My mom hit my dad.” The police told my mother she had to grab some of her stuff because she couldn’t stay at the house anymore. I didn’t know for the next two years my sister and I were going to be forced to live with my abusive father by ourselves. My mother moved to Queens, New York to live with my grandmother. My mother had visitation on Wednesday and every other weekend. There were many times when she would come all the way from New York on a Wednesday and he would say “They aren’t here” or “You can’t see them today” When he let her see us. We would go to ShopRite grocery store parking lot so she could braid our hair for the week. We went to court every week because my mother never stopped fighting to get us back. My sister and I went to school as usual. We had a spelling bee coming up soon which we were studying hard for. My father told us “one of us better win!” My mother came that day. I lost in the

4th round. My sister lost in the 3rd. My father hated that my mother was there to see us. Later that night he was mad and beat my sister and I. We were running from him as he chased us with the belt, and we crawled underneath the bed. As he beat us he said “I told you guys, one of you better win that Spelling Bee!” At that moment I knew I was living in hell. My mother had made no progress when it came to getting us back. My mother had to pay my father alimony plus child support. Meanwhile my sister and I were wearing the same old clothes and starving. My father continued to buy gold rings and new suites. The judge that presided over their case was known to help fathers in court because of a past situation his son was in.

child. Everything was under his total control. He used fear and intimidation to control everyone around us. After two years my parents received a new judge in my parent’s ongoing custody battle. The new judge allowed my mother to divorce my father. This allowed her to rebuy the house we were living in. My father was forced to move to Jamesburg, New Jersey. We were still living with him at this time. He ended up marrying the women from our church. He had a secret wedding. He kept telling my sister and I “You better tell them you want to live with me.” Anytime we would bring up our mom he would yell at us. He wanted to erase our mother and have this new women be our new mother.

My father still had his church and started seeing one of the women in our church. While we were in church I was joking and giggling with my friend during service. He gave me that look from the pulpit and I started crying in the middle of service. Living with my father, my sister and I weren’t allowed to go anywhere with friends. We weren’t allowed to get something to eat in the refrigerator without his say so. We weren’t allowed to drink our drink at the dinner table until he said we could. If we said something he didn’t like he would call us names such as “heffer” and “smartass.” We weren’t allowed to call our mother without him being right there. We weren’t

The new judge wanted to speak with my sister and I alone. He wanted to know which parent we wanted to live with. I finally felt a sense of voice and freedom when I told him “I want to live with my mother.”The next day my mother picked my sister and I up from our new school in Jamesburg, New Jersey. I will never forget the words that came out of her mouth “Girls we are going home.” My mother re-bought the same house we lived in. She remodeled whole house like a brand new start. Her job wanted to relocate us to Charlotte, North Carolina. My dad fought it but the judge allowed it. My mom sold our house by owner and doubled her money for what she re-bought it for. And we moved to North Carolina.

allowed to speak to our family members on our mother’s side at all. This was the norm to me as a

That was over ten years ago. Although my end story was marvelous, there are thousands of

people that go through this every day. Although I was happy with my new life I suffered a lot of selfesteem, anxiety, trust, and anger issues. My mother built me back up to be a strong, independent, confident young women. It took me plenty of years to work on my anger issues. My nervousness and anxiety still until this day I am working on. These are things people go through after the domestic violence. Deep rooted scars that take years to go away. I vowed to myself I would not be defined by my past. At the age of seven I vowed to myself that I would become a Family Court Judge to make a difference. I am continuing on my journey as I received my ungraduate degree in December 2015 for Criminal Justice with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. I realized because of my past I have an abundant passion to spread awareness of Domestic Violence. I have helped many young women get out of bad situations. I have helped spread awareness through marches at my university. Now being apart of the Dhyani Chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated my sisters and I have had a week of spreading awareness throughout The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Domestic Violence is an issue that has been taken lightly. It has been put on the backburner and I hope to bring it to the forefront of society in the future. Photos by Brittany Cromwell Photography www.

The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 13

Hector III, Hector IV, and Monica Lamourt

Hector’s Story Monica Lamourt

Hector Alexander Lamourt IV was born at 28 weeks (7 months) at only 2lbs, 14oz and 16 inches long. At first there was no indication that anything was wrong, however, after checking me a few times the doctors started noticing that my cervix was prematurely funneling which usually happens once the baby is ready to come out. The cervix begins to thin out and then you begin to dilate. Your cervix is measured and mine jumped a significant amount from one appointment to another and 14 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

therefore, I was put on hospitalized bed rest soon after. They called what I had cervical incompetence. Basically my cervix wasn’t be able to hold a baby.... From the beginning it was not a complicated pregnancy. It became complicated the day I went to get my glucose test done. After having my cervix checked a few times due to funneling, my OB-GYN checked me one last time and told me that I needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible and get on bed rest.

After being on bed rest in the hospital for only two weeks, my son decided that he wanted to come into the world early and make his grand entrance. I started contractions on a Friday and they immediately giving me magnesium, which helps to stop the contractions, therefore letting him cook a little longer. They stopped labor and then Sunday night it all went downhill and the contractions started again and this time the pain was worse. They tried the magnesium again but this time

it didn’t work. After they checked me they realized I was already five cm dilated and I was rushed to the labor and delivery floor. They tried and tried to keep him in as long as possible but the next day I was fully dilated and they couldn’t hold him in any longer and I ended up having my son on June 5, 2012. Thankfully, I was in a hospital specifically for women and children and I had doctors and nurses constantly giving me a rundown of all the risks and what-ifs. When I first checked into the hospital they gave me the survival percentage of a 26 week old baby and the percentage for every week I stayed pregnant, as well as what I should and could expect if I delivered early. Even as I began labor, they told me everything I should expect to see with a baby at his prematurity. However, not matter how prepared you think you may be, you can never prepare for the emotions you go through when your baby is in the NICU. Hector was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the first three months of his life. The scariest moment for me came on the fifth day. I wasn’t able to hold him until day 4 and at that point he had been doing really well with his oxygen. The nurses told me to remember that it’s a process and that they are just babies. On day 5 he began to de-saturate, meaning his breathing levels were going down and his little body had pretty much reached its limit. They changed him from an oxygen nasal cannula to a c-pap which is a full face breathing mask. I was in tears. The doctor showed me x-rays

of his lungs and told me he wasn’t doing too great but he had hopes and knew he would get better and that this was something normal for a preemie to go through, especially boys. Boys tend to be a lot lazier than girls, and they just get pooped out and need a little more help. I just thought my world was crumbling. I wanted to breathe for him. I wanted to take all the tubes away from him and just make him better and I couldn’t. I didn’t have control of this. I had lost all control and I felt helpless. My NICU family got me through each day. I’m not very good at expressing my feelings, and I needed and wanted to be alone for the most part. I just wanted to go to the hospital and stay with my son and just be with him all day, every day. My mother was in Miami at the time, which is 4 hours away from where we live in Orlando, FL, and she checked on me and the baby everyday but I needed to be alone. I did go through postpartum depression but it was due to the fact that I couldn’t hold my son to full term. The room that my son was in was shared by others as well and along with the nurses who were there when we needed comfort, we all became family. The nurses were always there and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. I also decided that I needed to share my story and the hospital actually had meetings for the parents of preemies. We were able to let our feelings be heard without feeling like victims.

stop being angry at myself. My fiancé, now husband, was there for me, but again I didn’t know how to express my feelings so it was hard not to keep him in the dark with how I felt. I actually reached out to one sister that I saw was going through the same thing and I have to say it was the best thing that I could have done. I reached out to Joanni Cuevas from the Themiskyra Chapter (SUNY Old Westbury) and she had some great encouraging words. She was going through a lot herself but the times we were able to connect were great. We were there for each other even though we had never met or even seen each other. Now we see our little ones growing up and getting big through Facebook. I also got a lot of support from my close chapter sisters Josie Rios, Wendy Cherenfant, Joey Rabel, and Ashley Brevil were constantly there for me. They came

I received a lot of support but the problem was that I just wanted to be left alone. I needed to get my feelings together and I needed to The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 15

to the hospital the day I was put on bed rest and they were there until I gave birth. After three long months, finally bringing Hector home was amazing - that’s the best word I can use. I was scared, nervous and so many other feelings. Being that he was born so early, Hector suffers from chronic lung disease which is very common with preemies that were on oxygen for a long period of time. Hector left the hospital with both an oxygen tank and a heart monitor, which monitors not only his heart but his breathing. I had a full oxygen machine at home and smaller oxygen tanks that we could use to go to doctors’ appointments, of which there were many. He saw an Ophthalmologist for his eyes, he had ROP (retinopathy of prematurity—which just means that the eyes aren’t fully developed), Audiologist (many preemies have fluid in their ears), Hector failed 4 hearing exams prior to him getting tubes in his ears, Pulmonologist (he was on oxygen and needed to be seen every 3 weeks) and his pediatrician. I sometimes feel cheated out of a “normal” pregnancy. I was sooo excited to have a baby. I wanted the big belly; I wanted to go through everything. I truly felt my happiest while I was pregnant and at the time I was a part of a group of others that were pregnant on Facebook and most if not all would complain and I felt resentment at the time because I would give anything to have made it full term to have my son. I am very scared of going through this again and therefore having more children 16 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

seems to not be in my plans right now. The fear of not being able to hold a baby to full term is scary and this time I have a little person to look after. If I was going to give advice to other parents of preemies it would be to stay strong, you will get through it. As much as we want to cry and just ask why, just keep going. Your baby needs you and needs you to be his/her advocate. They need you to be there for them. Another word of advice is get knowledgeable about the procedures being done, ask questions, ask for alternatives, ask for the who, what, when and why. Allow others to be there for you. At the end of the day, you are now a parent and you have to do and be your best. I definitely took advantage of my resources. I read a book that is called the ABC’s of a preemie parent and I loved it. I also talked to the nurses a lot and asked a lot of questions. The hospital had social workers and chaplains to help and I used

them when I felt my lowest. I also attended parent support meetings. I basically became knowledgeable of everything I could to know exactly what was happening and that is what worked best for me. I believe in God and this was what he wanted for me for whatever reason, I may not know or even understand, but this was Hector’s story. This is what is going to make him. He’s literally the strongest person I know and regardless of what he went through it goes to show that he can do and will do anything. He’s a survivor and this is his story. Today my little man is huge for his age, but mommy and daddy are both very tall so we expected it. He was the biggest baby in the NICU and now he is 3 years old weighing in at 30lbs and very tall for his age. Photos by Vanessa Duran Photography vanessaduranphotograghy

It’s Only Natural Eulalia Thomas

The choice to breastfeed my daughter was made as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I have never known anyone that has breastfed or pumped. I was really curious about breastfeeding and wanted to experience what nature has intended me to do. I wanted the best for my daughter and for myself as well. During my pregnancy I started looking into breastfeeding articles and went to breastfeeding classes as to get an idea of what I was getting into. With the support of my husband and family I felt confident going into my breastfeeding journey. The morning my daughter was born the nurses brought her to me to breastfeed and it was a magical moment for us. The rest of our

hospital stay my daughter was having some trouble latching on so I requested a lactation consultant for help. At that moment I wished I had brought my Boppy pillow for support instead of pillows they had. What I liked about the hospital I gave birth at is that the staff was pro breastfeeding and room sharing(no nursery) which helped tremendously with the numerous feedings every hour. Our first night being home I was so grateful that my mother-in-law was there to help with some of the feedings especially when my daughter was still having some difficulty latching. There was a time when my daughter and I got so frustrated that I ended up pumping and gave her a bottle.

The experience for the first few weeks was very painful. She was still having trouble latching on correctly and it was making me second guess if i should keep going. I was gifted a nipple shield from my motherin-law which helped tremendously. As weeks went by our breastfeeding relationship improved. Some of the essentials that I needed include: Boppy Pillow, Medela nipple shield, Madela breast pump (manual and electric), lanolin nipple cream, breast pads (disposable and reusable), milk storage bags, nursing bra, milk storage bottles, and nursing cover. During our journey I had an oversupply to where I was pumping and freezing milk and ran out of space in my freezer. Of course I The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 17

could not let it go to waste so I searched for mothers that were in need of my Liquid Gold. So far I have donated over 200+ ounces of milk to two mothers who were in desperate need to feed their babies. It felt great that I can help other mothers. A percent of society think otherwise. People think it is disgusting for mothers to share milk with other mothers. Why? I do not know. As a first time mother I had set short term goals from 3 months to a full year of breastfeeding for it to be more realistic for me. I fully believe that can achieve my goal of year and continue to breastfeed past that. There have been controversies about breastfeeding past 6 months and let alone 1 year. The way I see it, it is nobody’s business how a mother chooses to feed her child or if the child is not ready to wean themselves. It is only natural! In other countries it is so normal for a child to still breastfeed at age two or even up to four years old. It is only in America that it seems to be inappropriate. I have met so many wonderful mothers that have chosen to breastfeed their children past a year and they have graciously given me advice and tips. Topic of 18 | Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.

breastfeeding in public has become extremely controversial. I have done it numerous of times with and without a cover. I was at a huge children’s consignment sale the day I decided to breastfeed in public. I sat down on a bench outside pulled my nursing cover out and just fed my daughter. I was extremely nervous someone would come to me and make rude comments but I kept nursing her and my daughter was a happy camper after her meal. I did receive weird looks but I held my head high proudly. Through our journey I have fed my daughter on a pumpkin patch hayride, in a Walmart, in a nail salon, at the beach, in Starbucks and at the doctor’s office. Why?! My daughter does not like a bottle and it has been a struggle for her to take a bottle. I have heard “she should have pumped and brought a bottle instead of whipping her boobs out,” which is upsetting. With the whole breastfeeding in public being on of the biggest controversy in our country a local mother here in Southern Maryland, who has breastfed all her children, has started her year long project of photographing mothers breastfeeding in public

to empower nursing mothers to breastfeed in public without fear. I happily took part in the project and got my nursing session done at a local Starbucks. This time it was without my nursing cover. Different experience for my daughter and I (she was probably happy because she likes to fight my nursing cover). Nursing covers are great to have when mothers want to be conservative but when a baby fights it, it makes it harder for the both of them which creates more attention upon them than what the mother wants. It is the law that a nursing mother can feed her child in public wherever she is allowed to be. Society, please leave a nursing mother alone unless you have a positive comment to support her. Thank you! I am very passionate about breastfeeding because it is only natural and beautiful bond between the mother and child. The bond I have with my daughter cannot be described in words. She is a happy and healthy baby all from Momma’s Milk! Mothers and soon to be mothers, please do not let others tell you that you will not be successful or put you down for the choices you make in your breastfeeding journey. There are so many resources out there to help us mothers when we are having difficulties. One of the greatest resources I have come across are Facebook support groups for nursing mothers. Here is one of my favorite sayings, “Keep Calm and Latch On!” To all breastfeeding mothers, keeping feeding and reach your goals. Photos by Stavish Stills Photography

Fall 2015 Graduates Accomplishments Master’s Degree

Dominique Hoyte (Palenque Chapter) Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society

Alicia Torres (Matriarca Chapter)

Nicolle Arendt (Haumea Chapter) Order of Omega Honor Society

Bachelor’s Degree

Ruby Galarza (Matriarca Chapter) Order of Omega Honor

Angelica Beverly (Dhyani Chapter)


Brittney Diaz (Nysa Chapter) Roslynn Figueroa (Emeritus Chapter) Cara Orduno (Dhyani Chapter) Leigh Ann Warfield (Kailasa Chapter)

Cara Orduno

ExpressExcel is an online business that creates cost effective custom spreadsheets for small businesses. I have worked with Microsoft Excel on a daily basis in my career and I've come to absolutely love it. I use it to keep track of almost everything in my life which is what inspired me to start ExpressExcel selling a product that I enjoyed creating. I started with what I was familiar with and built the Home Bakery Business Management model for my mom's small cake business and I now have over 30 different spreadsheet models for eBay, Etsy, Amazon sellers and several other small business types! The Amazonian – Spring 2016 | 19

you are not alone The National Domestic Violence Hotline has answered over 3 million calls from victims of relationship abuse, their friends and family.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers phone and chat services for anyone affected by domestic violence. Support is available 24/7/365 by calling 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or online at

The production of this material was supported by Grant #90SV0001-01-00 from HHS Administration for Children and Families/Family Youth Services Bureau. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and do not necessarily represent the official views of ACF/FYSB.

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