A Timely Project: Senior Courtney Schrom studies the impacts of mask-wearing during the pandemic for her senior thesis.

Courtney Schrom is a senior who is prepping for her last couple of weeks on-campus at Eastern. That means she is in the home stretch of her senior thesis, and that is a true light at the end of the tunnel at this point for the senior. Schrom is a Communications major with a Digital/Emerging Media concentration and chances are, you’ve seen her photos of Eastern’s athletic teams as she is a student photographer as well.

There aren’t many more topics that could be timelier as Schrom’s senior thesis is on the impact facemasks have had on people during the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, her research focused on the impacts of relationship development, mental health, and communication. Mental health is a topic that is very important to Schrom though not her original idea for a topic. She had a few other proposal ideas before honing in on the impacts of facemasks, but the idea for researching facemasks came after a conversation with a friend. After the conversation, she heard numerous different stances on facemasks which helped give her interest in further research.

Once she got her topic proposal approved, Schrom began her research which was difficult at first. Even if the pandemic has felt like it has gone on for a long time,
there wasn’t a whole lot of published work on it when Schrom began doing her research for the senior thesis. Obviously, it was a relatively new topic at the time, but
by the time last semester was winding down there was a lot more research done and that helped get the ball rolling.

A couple of the interesting findings Schrom shared with me are that masks actually make people less anxious in public settings, and that drug use has gone up since people began wearing them. The first tidbit was especially interesting to me as someone from a family of introverts, and her research showed that the masks provide a sense of “protection” which helps reduce anxiety.

Another important tidbit Schrom gave me applies to any students that have taken COMM 280: Communication Theory and are Communications majors. You may want to keep your textbooks handy from the class as Schrom said that she ended up having to use a couple of those theories from the class into her thesis, so make sure to freshen up on the “Social Penetration Theory” and the “Narrative Paradigm” going into senior seminar.

While Schrom doesn’t have any immediate plans to continue her academic career by going on to getting her Master’s or PhD right after her time at Eastern, she
would be interested in doing further research down the line once the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have settled a little bit more. Her senior thesis was a
qualitative study, which required a lot of second-hand research, but she would also like to do a quantitative study someday that would focus on the socio-economic
impacts the pandemic has had. Schrom also has the hope that her thesis can be a stepping stone for other scholars who will continue studying effects of the pandemic for years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be a subject that is still “too soon” for some, but Schrom took on the tall task of focusing her senior thesis on the current pandemic. While it was a long and very tedious journey that has taken up most of her senior year, the finish line is now truly in sight and it is a rewarding feeling to see it all
coming together. The paper itself should be wrapped up over the next few days, and then it’s on to presenting her thesis for the department before finally being done with her senior thesis.

Earth-Friendly Fashion: A look into planning Earthkeepers’ clothing drive.

A change in the weather means it’s time for a cleanout, and that means going through your wardrobe only to find that you don’t actually wear half of the clothes that you own. This is what senior Business Administration major and founder of Earthkeepers, Claire Kasari, noticed when talking to her friends before winter break.

Kasari and her friends wanted to do a clothing swap with the items they no longer wanted after going through their summer clothes to prepare to bring out their winter wardrobe when she had the idea to make it a campus-wide event. “I thought to myself, You know there are probably a lot of people on this campus who are doing the exact same thing who don’t know where to put their clothes, how to organize a clothing drive, don’t know how to organize a clothing swap and don’t have the resources to do so, and I was like, I could probably do that! Let me see how feasible that would be,” Kasari said.

What started as just two clothing donation boxes – one in Gough and one in Eagle – led to a box in every dorm building on campus, all of which would be filled with clothes that students no longer wore and wanted to go to a good cause.

“We got so many clothes! I don’t know if this is environmentalist but I did 22 loads of laundry for all of the clothes. It was insane. It was a lot of laundry to do because I wanted everything to be clean for COVID too,” Kasari said,

All of the work putting out the boxes, having students donate, and washing the clothes to prep them for distribution paid off on Saturday, April 17 when the Sparrowk tent became a place for students to find new clothes without spending a dime.

“It was so successful and so many people came by and were like, ‘Wow! This is actually good stuff!’ and I’m like, ‘Right?’” Kasari exclaimed. Any misconceptions students may have had about thrifting were tossed aside quickly as the clothes were all in good condition and some pieces even still had tags on them.

As for the clothes that were left over after the event, members of Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today (YACHT) volunteered to take them and prepare them to give out to those experiencing homelessness in the city so that none of the clothes would go to waste.

The grand success of this clothing drive goes to show that sustainability can be very stylish indeed.

Emerging from the Shark Tank: Enactus Shark Tank winner, Karl Golden, talks about his entrepreneurial experience in this competition.

Over 45,000 people apply for the chance to appear on ABC’s competition show, Shark Tank, every single year for a chance to promote their business and hopefully land the best deal of their lives. That number may seem incredibly intimidating for many students with product and business ideas, but Eastern University’s student group, Enactus, believes in encouraging young entrepreneurs on Eastern’s campus by hosting their very own Shark Tank competition every year.

For those unfamiliar with the television program, the concept is this: each episode, several business owners or hopefuls get a chance to pitch their business or product to a group of 5 successful and business-savvy experts in the industry, referred to as sharks. If one of the sharks likes the idea or sees promise in the company, they can make an offer to give the business owner a sum of money for a share in their company. If they get an offer, or multiple offers, it is then up to the business owner to decide whether or not they want to take it.

Enactus’ event operates in a similar manner, with a panel of judges made up of local entrepreneurs and students pitching their ideas with the hope of winning a $1000 grand prize to put into their business. Senior Sociology major, Karl Golden, was one of the students who took on the challenge of presenting his business idea in front of the sharks.

“I saw a flyer, and I was interested in entrepreneurship, so I thought, I’m gonna apply, I’m gonna submit my proposal when the deadline opens,” Golden said regarding his interest in participating in the event. “I studied Entrepreneurship in community college, but never got the opportunity to apply it, so this was a chance for me to do so.”

Golden then met with Dr. Socci to go over his proposal and a one page overview of his business, Kingdom Candles, LLC, and was then entered into the competition. Kingdom Candles is a faith-based candle company where the candles come with a prayer based on the scent. Golden sees these candles as being great to give out as gifts to friends, family, and others.

“I know oftentimes, it’s really hard to break the ice about sharing your faith, but this can be a way to do so. My vision is just about sharing faith with others and giving other people the opportunity to do that through candles,” Golden said.

Aside from the faith aspect of the business, Golden chose to start a candle company because the start-up costs are comparatively lower than a lot of other businesses. During his sales pitch in front of the sharks, he presented all of this information with charts and graphs, breaking down his budget and detailing what he would use the $1000 grand prize for in starting this company if he were to win.

His hard work and dedication impressed the panel of sharks, and he was ultimately chosen as the victor. Though Golden is busy finishing up his undergraduate career at Eastern and will be serving in the U.S. Army for full-time active duty after graduation, he plans on starting his business and making his own product in the time between graduation and his service, getting it up and running with the $1000 prize money.

If you have a small business idea, and are thinking of participating in next year’s Shark Tank event, Golden offered some words of advice and encouragement. “Think
about how you can solve problems or how you can help people. I don’t consider myself to be an entrepreneur, but a social entrepreneur, so I want to help people, and I want to do that in the business world,” Golden said. “Don’t have any fear because experience is the best teacher. If you win or if you lose, you’re still going to gain a bunch of experience, and a bunch of feedback on your idea.”

Golden emphasized the idea that experience is the best thing you can gain from a competition like Shark Tank whether you win or lose, and this is certainly an experience he will carry with him for time to come

Five Things to Know About Weight Loss: The most common weight loss myths debunked.

In today’s society, everyone nitpicks their bodies, comparing themselves to Instagram influencers or the people they see on TV. We follow countless diets and run for miles on the treadmill, but don’t see long-term success. What if I told you that weight loss is not as complicated as you think? Here are 5 facts about weight loss that I wish I knew when I started my fitness journey.

One, the most important factor in weight loss is being in a caloric deficit. This means that you are eating less calories than you a burning. Everybody burns a different number of calories depending on height, weight, age, activity level, etc. The easiest way to calculate how many calories you need to lose weight, without seeing a registered dietitian or a nutritionist, is to use an online calorie calculator. There are plenty out there, but the one that I have used is at gainsbybrains.com I think this calculator is great because it gives you macros as well!

Two, weight loss takes a lot longer than you think. On average, a person can lose between 0.5 to 2lbs per week. The longer that you are on your weight loss journey, the harder it is to lose weight, especially when your goal changes from losing ‘weight’ to losing ‘fat.’ This topic may be a little too complicated to explain in this short article so bottom line: stop expecting immediate results. Prioritize progress over perfection and one day, you will look back and be thankful for the journey.

Three, don’t give 100% on week one. In order to lose weight, you need to be exerting more energy than you are consuming. Overtime, our bodies adjust to our caloric deficits and then we need to lower our intake and up our activity levels even more. If you run two miles on the treadmill and drop your calories to 1,200 on the first day, in a few months, where else are you going to go? Start in a small deficit and slowly increase your activity level in order to continue weight loss when you have hit a plateau.

Four, no one food will make you fat or skinny. As mentioned above, being in a caloric deficit is the most important factor in weight loss. Cutting carbs or fried food is not a guarantee that you will lose weight. Instead of making yourself miserable, try to eat foods that make you feel good and make you happy. Eating an unsustainable diet will only make it harder to maintain.

Five, don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. What might work for your favorite fitness influencer might not work for you and that’s okay. Stop comparing your chapter one to someone else’s chapter ten. You do not know how long they have been on their own fitness journey: it could be five years or ten. You will have days where you can see results and you will have days where you feel like you are back at square one. Take it one day at a time and you will achieve your goals!

People of Eastern: A conversation with Health Center Director Damona Wilson.

Over the past academic year, Eastern has tackled the coronavirus pandemic with force. Behind the scenes of all the decision making, testing days, and quarantine management is one woman with a heart of gold. Her name is Damona Wilson. The director of the student health center and nurse of over two decades sat down and spoke to the Waltonian about her past experiences in nursing, the response to COVID, and the future of student health in the coming months.

Wilson joined the Eastern community in the summer of 2019 after being a traveling nurse for twenty two years. When asked about her outlook of her job, Wilson said that her job “is to ensure that the health center provides quality care to all students. Keep striving to maintain a healthy campus, with emphasis on prevention and promotion of wellness. While adhering to ethical, professional and legal standards.”

Only a few months into her time at Eastern, Wilson remembers hearing about the first cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Before the virus reached the United States, Wilson had a meeting with university leadership about the possibility of some kind of lockdown. Since that meeting, Wilson has led the COVID task force through overseeing student health.

The COVID task force, led by Wilson and vice provost Jackie Irving, created a plan to mitigate the spread of COVID throughout campus. While the plans put in place were not popular among the student population (with strict masking policies, limited visitation, and restricted eating spaces), the task force has been working around the clock to keep students, faculty, and family members safe both on and off campus.

This academic year has been one of the toughest years for the university to date and Wilson would like to commend the Eastern community for adhering to the COVID guidelines and being so passionate about the safety of the community. “The positive actions by the EU students has helped the university achieve our goal” said Wilson.

Over the past few months, Wilson has been aware of the rumors surrounding on-site vaccinations for Eastern students, and while that is something that the entire COVID task force hopes for, it is only in the discussion phase at this time. On the bright side, all Eastern residential students are eligible to receive the vaccine through the county.

While the beginning of the semester had the largest number of COVID cases on campus to date, the most recent testing cycle in April had 100% of the tested population came back negative. The end is in sight, for both the school year and the pandemic; and we wouldn’t be here without the support of Damona Wilson.

Furry Friends Around Campus: What it’s like to have an Emotional Support Animal at Eastern during a stressful season caused by the pandemic.

Emotional Support Animals are pets that can provide companionship that eases anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. They are different from service animals, as they do not receive any formal training in order to become certified, but they do have to meet certain criteria. They have to be prescribed to a patient experiencing disabling mental health issues by a licensed mental health professional.

In order to get an ESA on Eastern’s campus, you have to get a recommendation from a therapist or mental health professional outside of Eastern’s community, then go through CCAS to get your animal certified as an ESA. They are classified as a housing accommodation so the ESA is allowed to live in dorms as long as they do not cause a disturbance.

Senior Chemistry major Karissa MacCentelli has had her ESA cat, Sasha, since her second semester. She got Sasha over the winter break of her freshman year from a cat cafe. MacCentelli loves having her ESA on campus with her, and feels that Sasha has a significant positive impact on her mental health.

Karissa describes ESA’s as “the annoying thing that gets you up in the morning.” and describes taking care of Sasha as her need to get up in the morning. She acknowledges that Sasha is another being that she is responsible for, so even when she doesn’t want to take care of herself, she needs to take care of Sasha.

“I care about her a lot, and I have the responsibility of having something else to take care of.” MacCentelli said when describing her relationship with Sasha and how she has impacted her life.

Freshman Early Childhood Education major Rebecca Belford has had her ESA shitzu, Tony, since her sixteenth birthday, and has had him registered as her ESA for almost a year now.

“My dog is my other half” said Belford, who has Tony to treat depression and anxiety. “He helps me through so much.”

Belford described how Tony is able to detect her emotions and help her calm down when necessary. “It is a lot for me to be emotionally there
for people” said Belford, “he helps me stay calm.

“I don’t think there is a bad part of having him here … sometimes he wakes up early” Belford said when asked if there were any downsides to having her ESA on campus.

One recent issue that has arisen on Eastern’s campus regarding ESAs is quarantine housing. Recent announcements and events have determined that students with ESAs are not allowed to have their ESA with them if they end up having to quarantine either due to exposure or a positive COVID-19 test.

This announcement has received a lot of negative backlash from students with ESAs on Eastern’s campus, after they had to fill out a form figuring out what their ESA would have to do in the case of quarantine.

MacCentelli had to deal with ESA accommodations in quarantine firsthand when she tested positive for COVID during one of Eastern’s monthly testing periods. She was not able to have her ESA with her after finding out her results, and could not have her with her in her anxious state afterwards.

While MacCentelli was able to go home with her ESA to quarantine in Maryland, she acknowledged that not all students were able to have the same luxury of going home to quarantine and be with their ESA.

Senior Faith Lauffer had a similar experience in the fall semester with her ESA, Sebby, but eventually learned she would not need to quarantine after finding out that she was not actually exposed.

Lauffer was very adverse to the new quarantine rule, as it was not made until this current spring semester. She wonders maybe if she would have been able to quarantine with her ESA in the fall, the new rule might not have been implemented.

“My ESA is a medical treatment for a medically diagnosed disorder, denying me my ESA is denying my medical treatment” said Lauffer, who chose her ESA over medication for mental health, and feels very strongly about Easterns new ESA policy.

Sources: AKC.org, Eastern.edu

An Open Letter to Lil Nas X: A reflection on how the artist’s new song and music video is affecting queer communities.

Congratulations to you! I’m so glad to see your new song doing so well. Of course, we both know not everyone is as excited. It’s nice to see that you remain unbothered by the backlash, and can simply enjoy the art you’ve created.

I must admit, if Satan shoes or your music video had been released a few years ago, I would’ve been more than a little wary. I’m sure my high school would have even put together some kind of lecture addressing the impurity and danger of it all.

Like you, I grew up in the church, and in the closet. I was good at being a Christian too. I was even a school chaplain and worship leader for a while. And yet, where my friends could talk with me about difficulties in their faith, I knew if I shared how I struggled the response would be different.

During this time in my life, I sought help from a teacher at school. He became a mentor of mine, and in little to no time I was spending lunch periods with him to study how to stop my feelings of “same sex attraction”. This same man would shortly become the very man to tell me if I died any time soon I was probably not going to Heaven.

I’ve separated myself from the Christian faith at this point, but not before I had developed an incapacitating fear of Hell.

The work that you are doing through your music and platform is so important, and it’s obvious that you are aware of this. You know just how common it is for queer people of all ages to battle with this fear of God and damnation, and you found a way to change the narrative.

Your reclaiming of Hell is perceived by so many Christians as a testament to the dangerous and wicked lifestyle that comes along with queerness. However, your video has shown me the power that grows from accepting and loving who you are.

In a less than three minute video, you’ve made a powerful statement. Rejecting the paradise that is held over the heads of too many struggling queer folks is a reminder that shame is not the only option. Happiness, confidence, and fulfillment is attainable when we recognize that queerness is not a mistake,
is not dirty or shameful, and does not have to be dictated by those who find it to be such.

Thank you for using your voice to encourage our community in a real and necessary way.

People of Eastern: Meet Zoe Lucas, a freshman with a wide range of passions and a desire for justice.

Stepping into a space with Zoe Lucas, it is immediately apparent that she illuminates a presence of sincerity and insightfulness to all who surround her. Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, Lucas is in the midst of completing her first year at Eastern University as she majors in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish. Lucas chose to major in Business Administration because her family is in the process of creating a nonprofit foundation; hence Lucas wants to learn all the skills necessary to help manage this foundation successfully. Although Lucas’s family is still in the process of establishing this foundation, the overarching goal is “to be able to work with nonprofit organizations around the U.S. that are already established and improving the community,” Lucas stated.

In addition to Business Administration, Lucas demonstrated great excitement towards her minor in Spanish. Although Lucas began learning Spanish in the beginning of elementary school, Lucas admitted that she “never took it seriously until 9th or 10th grade,” Lucas explained. After moving to a location with a larger population of Spanish-speakers, Lucas began noticing that she was able to understand Spanish conversations better. This caused her to ask herself, “Why just stop when I’ve gotten so far?,” Lucas shared. Lucas has committed to learning Spanish; therefore, she is excited to extend her knowledge by studying abroad in Ecuador this summer!

Outside of her studies, Lucas has been involved in multiple organizations that strive for justice. Lucas has an abundance of knowledge surrounding injustices, including those created by achievement gaps that occur within low income school systems. In an academic article that Lucas read, she explained that some people “get to go on a smooth running escalator and then some people have to walk up broken stairs,” Lucas emphasized. Hence, Lucas shared the importance of nonprofit organizations, such as Urban Promise, that do not wait until “after-the-fact” to deal with an injustice. Lucas has also been involved with The Hope Commission, which aims to develop, promote, evaluate and advocate for strategies that focus on revitalizing struggling areas of Wilmington.

Lucas’s involvement and passion for justice issues stems from the experiences and individuals that have inspired her. After her family lost their house, Lucas struggled with the uncertainty and changes that this caused. This difficulty transformed into a lens in which Lucas used to help others better. “It’s great when you want to help people, but it can be a great help when you’ve actually gone through it yourself as well because it gives you a different perspective,” Lucas stated. Specifically, helping people experiencing homelessness is on Lucas’s heart due to her first-hand experience with housing displacement. Furthermore, Lucas also feels inspired by her father, mother, and aunts. She describes them as being a “spiritual chair” for her by “encouraging me, interceding through prayer with me, and just speaking life into my life,” Lucas described.

On top of having a passionate heart, Lucas also has a deep love of ballroom dancing and crocheting. Since she was three years old, Lucas has had a passion for dance. She specifically enjoys ballroom dancing due to the structure that it provides, giving her a sense of freedom. Regarding her love of crocheting, she is currently in the process of making a cover for her cat! She knows how to crochet two different types of stitches and has a desire to continue learning!

In the Home Stretch: Ways to push through the last weeks of the Spring semester.

After Easter break, there are only three weeks left of classes before finals season begins. With the news about in-person Commencement ceremonies for the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, there is a lot to look forward to at the end of this year. For some, the break may have invigorated them so they’re ready to tackle the rest of the semester head on, and for others, the break may not have felt long enough. Regardless, here are some ways to keep moving forward for these last few weeks of the semester.

Work may be piling up at this point in the semester in preparation for final papers and exams, so take a look at your syllabi for the rest of the semester. What big projects do you have coming up and when are they due? Take a little bit of time and make a tentative plan for when you can work on these projects little by little, dividing them up into smaller tasks to work on every day or every other day. Writing out all of your assignments now can help you manage your time more wisely. Though the urge to procrastinate is almost inescapable at times, having some sort of breakdown of steps for bigger projects and papers can maybe lessen it a bit.

Along those same lines, if you find yourself struggling with understanding certain topics, planning out papers, or managing stress in these last few weeks, reach out to CCAS to make an appointment with a peer tutor, a writing tutor, or a counselor. All are more than willing to help you process whatever is causing you stress and hopefully leave you feeling more confident, accomplished, and at peace than when you came in. Many of these appointments can be held online as well, so you can get help for whatever you need from the comfort of your own room.

Of course it is also incredibly important to spend time with friends in the midst of all of the schoolwork. Enjoy the nice weather of spring and purposefully set aside time to go on
walks or hikes with friends, rejuvenating yourselves outdoors and taking your mind off of the stress and pressure of the school day even for a little while.

The end of the semester is also a really great time to talk to your professors and get more involved in your department or program. Chances are, there will be plenty more events at the end of the year for each academic program, and going to these events can be a great chance to meet others with similar interests or to network, especially for graduating seniors who may also be looking for post-grad jobs.

Lastly, remember that we are all in this together. If you are really struggling these last few weeks, reach out to others and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. By working together and leaning on each other, we will make it out of this semester stronger.

The Eastern Election: Xeyah Martin’s hopes for his term as the Student Government Association President.

Xeyah Martin has big plans for Eastern University. The junior business administration major is the incoming SGA Executive Board President for the 2021-2022 school year, having previously served as the vice president and treasurer in the past. While his term as president will not begin until next semester, Martin has created a detailed plan on how the university as a whole can become an improved place for students to grow.

The first step in Martin’s plan begins here, in this article. Martin approached the Waltonian a few weeks ago as a step towards transparency
between university leadership and the Eastern community. Since a majority of the readers of the Waltonian are not only students, but also faculty members, staff, alumni, parents, and donors, Martin wanted everyone to know what his plan is for the future of Eastern.

Martin’s main goal is for Eastern to “become more student-focused”. The first way he thought of doing this was through creating a more cost-effective experience for students and those who pay for students’ tuition. Over the past few years, Eastern has raised tuition prices for students while the quality of student life has stayed stagnant. Martin’s suggested tuition cuts include removing the mysterious “green energy fee” that many seem unaware or unsure of the purpose of, and introducing a tuition freeze that will keep students’ tuition the same for their entire time at Eastern.

Another big change that Martin would like to do is he would like to increase both the size and impact of Eastern’s student government. With the introduction of representatives of commuter students, online students, international students, and Palmer Seminary, Martin hopes to diversify the perspectives that SGA has, thus increasing the awareness of needs from the nontraditional student population. Martin also would like to create student town hall events to create a conversation of the changes and administrative changes with the student body. Believe it or not, Eastern’s current board meetings are not town hall style; they are closed-door meetings that are accessible by invitation only.

Martin has a number of other initiatives that he hopes to begin in the upcoming year. He hopes to introduce a campus clean-up program for the ponds and other natural resources on campus. He also has the idea to introduce a charity pageant for Eastern students as a way to bring in money and boost morale. Of course, these events would need to happen post-pandemic, but Martin is staying optimistic about the outcome of both the pandemic and his proposal.

As Martin begins to prepare for his term as executive president of Student Government, he wants the Eastern community to know that he has the students at the forefront of his purpose. “I always want to be a listening ear for the students, because for far long students have gone unheard and unrecognized,” says Martin. Overall, he hopes to create a better Eastern for the next generation of Eagles.