On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.

By Kristy Hamilton--

People often ask me how I ended up at Trinity University—a small liberal arts University thousands of miles away from my hometown near Chicago, IL. Was it the Texas weather? The excellent psychology program? The chance to explore a new city? No, it was the tennis courts. Trinity has very nice tennis courts. But, what I did not realize as a high school student-athlete with aspirations of joining a collegiate team (that could offer me free tennis shoes and racket stringing) was that this small liberal arts school would provide me with academic opportunities and instill values beyond what I ever could have imagined.

One of my favorite and most rewarding parts of the Trinity experience has been working as a research assistant on the Body Project team in Professor Carolyn Becker's Body Image Lab. The Body Project is an evidence-based body acceptance group intervention program offered to the entire Trinity student body.

At least, that’s how I put it on my resume. Basically, the Body Project helps you figure out how to promote physical health in your life without it coming at a cost to your mental health. With all the stress of college life coupled with a lot of negative messages in the media, practicing healthy habits is pretty difficult. It's hard to not compare yourself to the models on your Instagram feed, or the other students at parties, and it's especially difficult to listen to the "you seemed to have gained some weight this semester" type comments from your family over holiday breaks. The Body Project works prepares you to deal with these issues in the best possible way for your own unique circumstances, and help you be an advocate for anyone around you who may be dealing with similar issues.

The Body Project made its debut on campus in 2004 when the program was run for the first time during Greek orientation with all sororities at Trinity. The idea behind the Sorority Body Project was to target the largest body of women on campus to make a real change in the way Trinity students feel about their bodies. Currently, the Body Project model was grown to reach universities all over the United States and Internationally (U.K., Mexico, and Australia), and Trinity University sororities are internationally known for their work developing the first scientifically based, peer facilitated sustainable body image program.

While the purpose of the Body Project is to teach and advocate for positive body image on campus, this project also provides Psychology majors like me with the chance to conduct research. As an optional part of the program, participants are asked to fill out questionnaires regarding their attitudes and behaviors related to cultural ideals of beauty and their own body image. Results from over 25 trials show that the exercises used in the Body Project effectively improve students’ body image and decrease risk factors for many different physical and mental health problems. The lab regularly publishes academic research papers and conference posters, providing undergraduate research students the opportunity to obtain authorship and gain experience that will put them in the best position for success upon graduation.

If you are at all interested in the program, we would love to have you in one of our groups! The program is seriously so much fun, and there are some pretty cool incentives for completing the questionnaires. For more information, check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Instagram @trinitybodyproject. You can also e-mail Katherine Hewitt (khewitt@trinity.edu) to learn how you can get involved! Look forward to seeing you soon and remember to always #LoveYourself

About Kristy

Kristy Hamilton is a member of the class of 2016 at Trinity University. With a double major in Psychology and Communication, Kristy hopes to become a college professor in order to conduct research on the social and psychological impacts of new technology. In addition to being a research assistant for the Body Project, Kristy is conducting research that explores the connection between digital technology and metacognitive illusions of knowledge for her Psychology Thesis. Outside of the lab, Kristy is a member of Gamma Chi Delta, a social sorority on campus, and competed for the Women's Varsity Tennis Team for three years of her four years on campus. Next year, Kristy will be joining the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a doctoral candidate.

By Alex Hansen--

Often, people view college as intimidating upon entry from high school. Classes are stereotypically massive, taught by either a professor preoccupied with research and grad students or a TA, graded on a competitive curve, and, in the first year, designed to "weed out" students who are somehow deemed lesser. These stereotypes are often perpetuated by depiction in television shows, stories from friends, or high school teachers warning students about the dangers they will encounter upon entry into college (perhaps to persuade the students to try harder in their current classes). I have yet to encounter anything so harsh.

I can't say that classes at Trinity are not difficult. They often are extremely challenging. However, I can say I have never experienced any of these stereotypes. Sometimes, when I mention stories from my school to friends at other schools (which I will not name), they comment on how lovely life must be here, how casual and idyllic my studies are. I tell stories about my time spent traveling to research conferences with professors as a first and second year undergraduate student, cooking Chinese food with my Chinese professor, traveling to Hong Kong and Taiwan on a scholarship my first summer, and using our complicated inter-library loan system to get access to a vast amount of comics (perhaps that is a bit of an abuse of the system, but I think it is mostly valid). These experiences often cause these friends to laugh at how easy my life must be.

Yes, we have class outdoors. No, that doesn't mean our classes are any easier. 
Au contraire!

It is not easy to be a student here. It is difficult, but the emphasis is entirely and purely on my education. There is no artificial difficulty, the likes of which come from the aforementioned stereotypes. The difficulty is birthed out of the effort put into my education. At Trinity, never will I, or have I, suffered from difficulty for the sake of being "weeded out", or the sake of being a side project for a researching professor, or the sake of being taught by an inexperienced TA. Any difficulty I experience along the way is a byproduct of being educated extremely efficiently. As a student, I am constantly supported and encouraged by my peers, professors, and coworkers to succeed at educating myself. Being on leadership in two student organizations, involved in three ensembles, two majors, two on-campus jobs, research, my own projects, and still having time to write this article most likely alludes to either having very easy classes or no sleep at all, but the truth is that I am just being educated as I should be.

A Trinity education is challenging, but there is still time for extracurriculars like orchestra. 
With all of this in mind, I'd like to expand on my story about visiting Hong Kong. Often, college students go on the traditional "study abroad" semester to experience the world and increase their international literacy. It is something that generally has a few barriers of entry, including effort and money. Study abroad can be very expensive, with the costs of travel, food, and more. I did not consider myself the "study abroad" type, being that I did not have excessive ambition to go abroad. I like traveling, but I also liked being at Trinity to study. 

I ended up receiving a scholarship from Trinity's Modern Languages Department (the Chinese program) to go to Hong Kong during the summer to study at one of our exchange partners, Lingnan University. You may be wondering: what all did the scholarship entail? The answer is: everything. Plane tickets, food, and tuition. The price barrier was gone. I ended up visiting Hong Kong and studying there for six weeks, then traveling around Taiwan, and spending two days in Korea, spending a very minimal amount of my own money. This story happens to two or three Chinese language students every year, and it is something that seems almost comically improbable and lucky. 

Study abroad doesn't have to drain your bank account. 
So, as a person who has had the typical Trinity experience (the above is, indeed, typical of this university), I tell you not a story of my struggles as a student, but of the successes of my education. Traveling the world, studying what I find interesting, gaining academic prestige through research publishings, participating in the performing arts, leading multiple student groups, and getting a job constituted my education my freshman year. And my experience is only typical.

About Alex

I am Alex Hansen, a sophomore at Trinity University from Cypress, Texas (or the Houston 'burbs, as they are more often called). I am a double major in Chinese Language and Computer Science, and I am involved in various campus ensembles as a string bass player and guitarist. I enjoy listening to heavy metal and reading nerdy fantasy novels!

by Mariah Wahl--

Amid cheers and a standing ovation, Mayor Ivy Taylor invested Trinity University English professor Jenny Browne as the 2016-18 poet laureate of San Antonio on Monday, March 28. The City Council Chambers were entirely packed. Felix Padron, executive director of the Department for Culture and Creative Development
, notes that no former poet laureate has ever been invested with such an audience.

In spite of all this fanfare, Browne introduces herself to us simply. She tells the story of how she introduced herself to a group of Congalese and Somalian teenage girls in a refugee camp in Kenya. Knowing that her official introduction meant very little to them, she found a different way to tell them who she was.

“My name is Jenny and I’m a poet and a writer and reader and a professor. I’m also a wife and a mother and a sister and a daughter. I’m an American and I’m a Texan and I live by a river in a city called San Antonio.”

It’s a humble approach for such a prestigious-sounding title, one that prompts Browne’s daughters to jokingly refer to the investiture as her “coronation.” Browne seems determined to eliminate any mystery about the position, however. When people congratulate her on her award as poet laureate, they also quickly ask: What exactly is that?

The official job of a poet laureate is to promote literacy and the understanding of arts and culture in the San Antonio community, or as Mayor Ivy Taylor puts it, it means to have “an endless determination in fostering greater cultural understanding in the San Antonio community.”

As a student, I’ve seen Professor Browne foster this kind of understanding firsthand. In my poetry classes, we frequently share poems and garner feedback from each other in workshop. Sharing work that is often personal could easily be an apprehensive experience, but Professor Browne has a way of making workshop a collaborative and supportive place rather than a critical one. Her trick is this: Every time she comments on a student’s work, she makes her voice very soft and begins, “I wonder about…”

I marvel at how this change of voice and this gentle approach makes it easier for all of us in class to be kinder to one another. About our modern world, one supposedly renowned for its connectivity, Browne says, “We are profoundly empathy deprived. Empathy is the task of poetry, writing, art.” From Professor Browne I have learned that when we encourage each other to wonder about how something can be different, our dialogue changes. Our communication opens up possibilities, whether that’s of a poem, or of someone’s creative potential.

“We don’t want to talk about how much language matters,” Browne says in her poem “The First Person,” which tells the story of a seemingly harmless comment that carries immense weight. As poet laureate, Browne’s task seems to be to harness the power of language. Poetry can be a tool to open up the possibilities of our city in what she refers to as both the “physical and imaginary” spaces, to make the different voices of our community heard.

I am excited to see what we can “wonder about” San Antonio, with the help of our new poet laureate and the power of language available to all of us.

About Mariah

Mariah Wahl is a senior at Trinity University, studying English and women's and gender studies. She edits the Trinity Perspective as well as the Trinity Experiential Learning Blog. In her free time, Mariah enjoys running and being outdoors. Recently, she completed her second half-marathon. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau sorority.