For the past year, Debbie Sineus, a senior pre-med major at Howard University, has been working as the Nature Sacred intern. With our Nature for Wellness – Education initiative just having launched, we invited Debbie to share her perspective on the importance of nature in the lives of college students.
I often find myself asking the question — have I gotten enough yet? — when I self-reflect at the end of the day. Did I get enough sleep, did I get enough done during the day, did I take care of myself the way I should, did I get enough time for myself to relax? And oftentimes, the answer to that question is “HECK NO!”
Life is like a merry go-round, and I would pinpoint myself as the passenger who continues to go around and around and not get off. This is the reality of many college students like me. As the daughter of two Haitian immigrants who are of low socioeconomic status, I find myself holding on to more than the usual 21-year-old should be. I am completely independent in all ways, and in a city where I have no family and seldom friends, I am not shy to say that every day is extremely hard and draining.
But in those moments of pure exhaustion, a simple walk to the park or even staring at the beautiful succulents near my window feel like a breath of fresh air. Nature has a way of healing your mind, body, and soul.
What’s even crazier is that a lot of individuals don’t even realize it! I remember leaving the Howard University Chemistry building after a grueling 8 a.m. chemistry lab and walking out to the birds flying across the sky as the sun shone upon the courtyard and its towering trees. I did not know at that time that my soul was being fed, but I felt the resurgence of energy as I smiled all the way to the Mary Bethune Annex dorm I lived in.
Now just imagine the effect nature had on the 5,000+ students who walked upon Howard’s campus day and night? I can’t forget about springtime at Howard! Just envision 100+ students on a big courtyard, playing music from their speakers, painting, doing double dutch (which I am horrible at), hopscotch, laid out on picnic blankets…… like a scene from a movie. The sense of community that nature brought Howard is the exact reason my passion grew for nature.
Noticing this, my academic advisor connected me with Nature Sacred, and I have been an intern since September of 2020 and I absolutely love it!
The environment has a way of uniting the community together, bringing relief to those who need it. Currently a pre-med student, I am grateful to receive a front-row seat to how nature can be used in healthcare.
During the pandemic, providing a space where our healthcare workers and patients could escape and clear their minds was essential. I love that Nature Sacred’s Nature for Wellness Initiative is focused on seeing more green spaces, Sacred Places, established on healthcare campuses.
The initiative is also focused on universities, which I know well. I understand deeply how a Sacred Place would be beneficial on college campuses like Howard. I know so many people who could benefit from having a journal that they can express their feelings through, a cool bench to chill on, and an awesome labyrinth to walk.
Every day students will be asking themselves “have I gotten enough yet?” of all that nature has to offer. I know for me, being a part of Nature Sacred has definitely given me a fuller understanding of all the ways nature benefits us — including those of us who spent half the night studying.
— Debbie Sineus, Nature Sacred Intern, Class of ‘22, Howard University