In my sophomore year at Dartmouth, I became involved with the Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisors. This term-long training provided a way for me to help students who were having difficulty with the drinking-centered Dartmouth social scene. After my sophomore year, I wanted to be more involved in planning educational programs about alcohol and other drugs, so I became a DAPA Intern. As a DAPA Intern, I enjoyed planning programs for the campus including National Smokeout Day, a Drunk Driving Awareness event, a SexFest table, and the Dartmouth Alcohol Screening. I will be a DAPA Intern again during my senior year. I am enormously excited to be a Koop Scholar Intern because it allows me to continue learning about substance abuse, and it allows me to meet other students with similar concerns.
I have known for many years that my calling was to help those around me. I am eagerly pursuing a path towards medical school. Most recently, after a post baccalaureate program in the fall of 2008, I will be applying to medical school in hopes of giving back to the community. While at Dartmouth, I honed my time management skills while representing my college through volunteer work and in athletics. During my freshman year of college, I created an afterschool program called Girls Day Out--dedicated to keeping middle school children out of the streets by encouraging positive afterschool activities and behaviors. I also volunteered for Kids N Cops and Relay for Life which are causes I believe strongly in. In my final season playing varsity volleyball, my teammates selected me to represent the team as Captain. They believed in my communication skills, leadership, and work ethic. I led the team to our best season record in 15 years. Practicing between two and four hours a day, with my volunteer effort and remaining dedicated to my school work has taught me time management, communication, and work ethic. Serving my community has inspired me to pursue a career in medicine.
In the fall of my senior year of college I discovered an opportunity to work face to face with fellow classmates who struggle with leading healthy lives. I helped with the development of HealThy Self House--an initiative on the Dartmouth campus dedicated to providing anonymous services to high school and college aged students struggling with alcohol or drug addictions, and a range of disorders. It was registered in New Hampshire as a nonprofit organization and gained the support from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical center. Here I was able to reach out and help my peers, building my idea of love.
In high school, I was a counselor for the DARE summer program held in my hometown and dedicated my summer days of '01, '02, and '03 educating fourth and fifth graders of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Coming from a city south of Boston, I have witnessed the powerful consequences of drug abuse and have become increasingly interested in the psychological and socio-economic issues that affect individuals, especially teenaged individuals, in their path toward addiction. This interest has inspired me to pursue a career in Pediatrics, focused on the psychological development of children. Ideally, becoming a pediatrician will give me an opportunity to provide children with a positive influence and ultimately help me prevent drug addictions in the future.
While drug addiction has always intrigued me, a growing concern with the issue of alcohol abuse has increased since my enrollment at Dartmouth College. During my sophomore fall of '05, I began helping Bill Sjogren, class of '67, establish a sober house in the Upper Valley community. For the past two years, I have worked as a school liaison and have been an active board member for the Healthy Self House, or "Heal Thy Self House." Despite being in the primitive stages, Mr. Sjogren and I envision the Healthy Self House as an outlet for individuals seeking help, counseling, or just an alternative to fraternity basements. We wish to develop a safe haven where college and high-school aged students could receive mentoring, peer-support, utilize programs to learn and adopt healthy behaviors, learn to live happy and meaningful lives, and give service to others. Healthy Self House will keep its doors open and remain welcoming 24 hours a day. Preferably, it will become a self-sufficient resource that all members of the Upper Valley may utilize.
More recently, the HSH board has honored me with the liberty to lead a student group within the Dartmouth community and has allowed me to proactively advocate the ideals our initiative wishes to encompass. In the coming months, there are two significant components that will be vital to the success of this student committee: (1) the identification of community needs and the development of programs to respond to those needs; and (2) the execution of an Informational Campaign that will help to serve as a preliminary guideline for the HSH Capital Campaign in the future. Ultimately, I hope the student committee will expand its membership to incorporate the Upper Valley community alongside other college and high school students.
Throughout my years at Dartmouth, much of my volunteering has addressed substance abuse- and addiction- related issues on campus. In my freshman year I noticed problematic drinking behaviors among my peers such as frequent blackouts and disturbances and destruction in dormitories. Many individuals with whom I talked and the student community at large seemed to embrace these behaviors as “normal,” even expected, so I decided to train as a Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisor (DAPA) in my freshman winter to educate myself and, in turn, to educate my peers. I have been a DAPA since then and continue to work with individuals and the community.
The stigmas and the denial associated with substance abuse and addiction create a taboo against talking about alcohol consumption within the wider Dartmouth community, allowing for the continuation of dangerous drinking behavior. The apparent lack of interest in talking about alcohol usage on campus is a symptom of the problem. Recognizing the complexity of substance use and abuse issues at Dartmouth and the large role of the community in both the problem and the solution, I decided last year to join efforts by the Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery, and Education (DCARE) to generate discussion about the frequency and intensity of drinking at the College and what can be done to reduce the pressures to conform. Last year, I helped to plan a week-long series of events for the First Annual Spring Alcohol Series. For my Koop Scholar project, I am organizing the Second Annual Spring Alcohol Series with Dr. Seddon Savage and DCARE concerning the role of alcohol in life at Dartmouth. We are holding three events for Dartmouth students in April comparing the drinking culture at Dartmouth to that at other colleges (April 3rd), exploring the effects of alcohol on athletic performance (April 5th), and examining College policies on drinking (April 10th).
I plan to continue working on issues surrounding alcohol and drug abuse, addiction, and recovery throughout medical school and in my medical career.
As a future doctor and a member of our society, I am interested in how illnesses affect quality of life for many people. People who combat illnesses demand my admiration. And it is not only the individuals with the illness who are affected, but also the family and friends of the illed who share the burden. My interest in addiction medicine began spring 2006 when I took the course Alcohol and Addiction Medicine. My final project involved me interviewing six people: five recovering alcoholics and one from a society rampant with alcoholism. My goal was to understand alcoholism from a personal, case by case scenario, instead of from the biological and chemical viewpoint. I approached each meeting with the goal to be taken seriously, but also personably, like an old friend. The subject that I was dealing with was painful, private, and complex. The people I interviewed know that they do not understand the beauty of their own illness, because alcoholism is one both of body and spirit.
My goal in interviewing recovering alcoholics was not to explain their illness. I did not search for a reason for why they started and why they could not stop. Instead I wanted to learn how they have coped with their alcoholism, and how they cope today. I attended many AA meetings and read books relating to alcoholics' recoveries. My interviewees became my friends. They weren't "just addicts." They are you and me, trying to fight for a life they deserve, free of the chains of a debilitating addiction. I wish to continue to interview recovering alcoholics in hopes of sharing what I learn with others so that they may better understand alcoholism.
After watching several members of my family suffer with the consequences of smoking and alcohol abuse I knew before I even arrived at Dartmouth that I wanted to deal with issues of addiction in a substantive way. I have been able to pursue my interests by taking Prof. Nelson's class in Addiction Medicine as well as being an intern for Dr. Koop last year. I am now very excited at the opportunity to serve as a Koop Scholar. My areas of interest include alcoholism and alcohol abuse and its effects on college campuses, family members, and Native Communities.
I have worked with Dr. McGovern on Substance Use Policies since late last spring. Lindsay Hirschfeld '03 and I constructed a systematic review method to examine the accessibility, comprehensiveness, enforcement procedures, and clarity of college substance use policies. An objective evaluation scheme for each of these four dimensions was developed, and then applied to documented substance use policies from a sample of colleges and universities (n=24). Policies were found to vary considerably, but tend to specify compliance with local laws, and emphasize student health and well-being. We are about to submit our paper to the Journal of American College Health for publication, and soon after I will continue this research in one of the following areas: actual implementation, potential differentiating factors among institutions, or the influence of policy on campus climate and student outcomes.
For the past year, my research under the auspices of the Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery and Education and Mark McGovern has consisted mostly of gathering data from various organizations on and off campus which typically have not provided information for public use (e.g. Dicks House, Diversion Program, etc.). After collecting the data, I prepared longitudinal descriptions of trends in alcohol and drug use at Dartmouth as enumerated, perhaps unknowingly, by these organizations. When I began comparing these trends across different organizations, however, it become impossible to proceed effectively because of a lack of a standard format in the way each organization had presented its data. While interpretation of the data I already have provides a provocative taste of what can be learned from a superficial glance at these organizations, there is clearly a mountain of untapped information that still lies buried by the current methods of records-keeping.
For this reason, my more recent work has been considering the relative merits of different methodologies for collecting information about drug and alcohol use and abuse. The current hope is that through DCARE we will able to establish an electronic database into which all relevant organizations on and near campus could directly enter their data. This relatively simple program to implement would immediately eliminate any inconsistencies between different organizations and could provide ready-made comparisons of alcohol and drug use trends. By using anonymous ID numbers for each student, it could even demonstrate the continuity of the alcohol and drug use treatment cycle on campus (i.e. Safety and Security to Dicks House to Office of the Dean to Diversion Program, etc.).
While I think that the potential of this research is fascinating and I would like to be involved in carrying it out, my ultimate interests lie in neuroscience. I am currently majoring in the recently approved field of neuroscience and am only beginning to understand the complexities of substance use and its effect on the brain. My roots are in the social sciences, but my goal is to bring an understanding of biological processes to bear on my understanding of social trends.
During the winter of 2001 she interned at the Mental Health Corporation of Denver (MHCD.) MHCD is a mental health service organization that provides resources for the mentally ill who lack the resources for treatment. Services vary between MHCD branches. Group homes, inpatient treatment, ongoing outpatient care, community outreach, and client activity centers are just a few of the programs within the organization. Her internship took place in an outpatient mental illness/substance abuse treatment clinic. It offered her an opportunity to observe substance abuse treatment at a few different levels of client involvement. She helped run two group therapy sections, sat in with psychiatrists and case managers, visited other MHCD sites, helped pass out medications and schedule physicals, attended lectures on issues relating to substance abuse and mental health, and managed three cases on a short-term basis.
During the summer of 2002 Jordan taught English and substance abuse education classes in El Guasmo, Guayaquil, Ecuador. Once a week she gave a two-hour class to 35 students, ages 15-19, on alcoholism and drug addiction. We studied the influences alcohol and drugs have within the community and family, effects on the body, negative consequences of abuse, and the stereotypes of alcoholism. She says she tried to get the kids involved in learning so, along with their participation in class discussions, they were asked to make lists, present information they researched on their own time, act in skits and dialogues, and play games.
Thayer School of Engineering
C. Everett Koop Scholar in Addiction Medicine Studies
Dartmouth Center for Addiction, Recovery, and Education
Amish is an Engineering Sciences/Biology major. In June of 2003 he will receive both his undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in Engineering (Biomedical). Amish's medical service work has taken him to three continents and includes founding a medical clinic and co-founding an International Non-Governmental Organization.
In addition to Amish's Biomedical Engineering research interests, he has been involved in aerospace research including co-founding of the Dartmouth Satellite Project. While participating in clinical and academic research Amish developed an interest in dialogue promoting cross-cultural approaches to healing. On his third trip to Costa Rica he investigated a successful healing model that combined multiple therapeutic methods including native healing practices and professional counseling. This was employed by the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation in the addiction treatment of former children of the street. Amish holds a US patent and has authored a number of professional publications in engineering and medicine. He is excited to share his Central American findings with the scientific community by preparing a manuscript for publication.
Amish is currently working on perfecting an intra-operative measurement technique and the development of an implantable medical device.
After graduation Amish will pursue graduate training in Public Health.
Amish wishes to express his deep thanks to Dr. C. Everett Koop for his unwavering support and encouragement throughout his Dartmouth career.
Last Updated: 11/13/08