Author: Elisabeth Epstein

Elena Vanishing jacket

Interview: Elena Vanishing

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. Told entirely from Elena’s perspective over a five-year period and cowritten with her mother, award-winning author Clare B. Dunkle, Elena’s memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder. In an interview style format, I had the opportunity to chat with Elena about her story and published memoir. Question 1: The way you describe it, anorexia nervosa doesn’t seem to be all about ‘being skinny’ but rather, on a deeper level, it’s more of an issue of needing to feel in control at all times, extending far beyond just the person’s relationship with food. Do you think this is a correct assessment?  That’s a very good way of describing a lot of the motivation driving many …

Paige_McKenzie_HS2 credit Levy Morashan

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Paige McKenzie, young author and YouTube phenom, recently released her first book. Based on her incredibly successful YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl tells the story of Sunshine, a 16-year-old girl living in a haunted house.  Described as “Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity,” The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is certain to delight readers young and old. A few weeks ago, I had the fantastic opportunity to read Paige’s book and I can say with confidence you will not be disappointed. Afterwards, I spoke with Paige about her book and her plans for the future. Find out what she had to say below: Q: You started your YouTube channel four years ago, a channel which now has over 250,000 subscribers and over 132 million views. What inspired you to create a fictional web series about ghosts? Did you ever expect your channel to have such a large following? A: I knew I had something special with the views (and the comments!) started rolling in. I was cautiously optimistic when I started. Now I am looking forward to the continued growth and …

House Votes On Health Care Reform Legislation

What Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Restoration Act Means for Women 

Today, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allowing for individuals and companies with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to refuse service to individuals who do not align with their beliefs. Although the Governor and his Republican colleagues refute the claim that this bill legalizes religious discrimination, it clearly does. For example, the law protects Christian bakers, florists, and photographers from punishment if they refuse to participate in a homosexual marriage. (Same-sex marriage was legalized in Indiana in October of 2014.) Now, that might sound seemingly harmless. After all, if same-sex partners are looking for wedding day caterers or other services, they could always choose another, more LGBT-friendly company. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done when 80 percent of Indiana’s population follows the Christian faith. But that’s beside the point. The point is that they shouldn’t have to look elsewhere. (Before students staged the 1960 Nashville sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter, the same argument was used to justify segregation in restaurants.) I got married in 2013 and I know from experience that planning a wedding can be a time-consuming …

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Women Inspire: Dr. Bunmi Ajibua

This post is the sixth in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. Recently, I got the wonderful opportunity to meet with Dr. Bunmi Ajibua, 30, and discover what drives her, what motivates her, and more. What made you interested in becoming a doctor? A: My environment in school. When I was eight and nine years old, my school was located within a hospital compound. I always saw doctors walking around and was very inquisitive. I wanted to be like them. It is because of them that I grew interested in caring for people. What is your favorite part about being a doctor? A: I love seeing the smiles on my patients’ faces, seeing them happy, and hearing them say, “Thank you I feel better.” Who inspires you and why? A: My sister inspires me. She is seven years older than me and works as a nurse. She is …

Girls pose for a photo at Tutorial High School; Image c/o Elisabeth Epstein

The Young Women of Tutorial High

I met Walterine during my Baltimore to Guyana layover in the Panama City airport. Seeing that I was reading a Guyana guidebook, Walterine, a proud Guyanese, excitedly sat down next to me and began asking about my trip and my plans while in Guyana. ​I explained to Walterine that I worked with Girls’ Globe and would be speaking with women and girls at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Coincidentally (and serendipitously), Walterine worked as the principal of a local high school. Loving the Girls’ Globe mission, she invited me to visit her school and speak to her girls about women’s and girls’ empowerment. Happily, I accepted. Last week, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with 200 young women (aged 13-14) at Tutorial High School. Not only were students engaged and excited to share their ideas about gender equality, but they also were incredibly knowledgeable about gender-related issues. After telling the girls a little bit about myself and about Girls’ Globe, I gave a brief introduction about why ensuring gender equality and empowering young girls is crucial for …

Onika Harris (second to left) and nursing student friends at GPHC; Image c/o Elisabeth Epstein

Women Inspire: Onika Harris

This post is the fifth in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. Last week, I met Onika Harris (second from the left), 29, on a beautiful, sunny day when she was walking with her fellow nursing students across the GPHC compound. Full of laughter and joy, Onika and her friends could undoubtedly put a smile on anyone’s face. What made you interested in becoming a nurse? A: I have always wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. I’m really passionate about helping people. What is your favorite part about being a nurse? A: I love getting an up close view of the organs that keep us alive. It’s fascinating. Who inspires you and why? A: Dr. House on TV! I love him because he always gets the job done, no matter how difficult the case may be. Why is …

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Women Inspire: Dr. Priscilla Joseph

This post is the fourth in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. Recently, I met Dr. Priscilla Joseph, 30, in the GPHC emergency department. A role model for girls around the world, Priscilla filled me in on why she wanted to become a doctor and who inspires her. What made you interested in becoming a doctor? A: I wanted to be a doctor because I love helping people. My parents were also a great influence in my life because they recognized my interest and wholeheartedly supported and emphasized the importance of education in life – but particularly in order to become a nurse. What is your favorite part about being a doctor? A: In my opinion, seeing the successful health outcomes and seeing patients survive traumatic accidents and illness is the greatest part about being a doctor. Who inspires you and why? A: When …

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Women Inspire: Romalia Black

This post is the third in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. Recently, I met Nurse Romalia Black in the GPHC emergency department. She graciously shared with me her story, her ideas, and her passions. What made you interested in becoming a nurse? A: When I was 7 years old, my grandfather suffered a stroke and I helped care for him alongside my family. I discovered I really enjoyed caring for him and making him feel better. A few years later, my friend fell ill with a serious infection. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to be a nurse so I could help care for people my entire life. What is your favorite part about being a nurse? A: I love to see people get well and being able to help and care for them. Who inspires you and why? A: …

Sign outside GPHC's maternity ward; Image c/o Elisabeth Epstein

Women Inspire: Nozema Pul

This post is the second in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. I recently met Nozema Pul, 41, in the GPHC maternity ward. Nozema was days, or possibly hours, away from giving birth. But being the shero that she is, she agreed to share with me her thoughts on motherhood, her dreams for her children, and advice for young girls. What does being a mother mean to you? A: Happiness. It means happiness. How has your mother influenced your life? A: My mother was a loving, caring and thoughtful mom. She taught me all about the good things in life. She raised me the right way, as a mother should. She gave me everything that she could afford in order to make me happy. What do you wish for your children? A: I wish for lots of happiness. I wish that they follow Christ …

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Women Inspire: Kennesia Pellew

This post is the first in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana. I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. Last week, I met Kennesia Pellew, a 21-year-old nursing student, while she was working in the emergency department at GPHC. From just the few minutes I spoke with her, I could tell Kennesia was extremely passionate about her work, her dreams, and her passions. What made you interested in becoming a nurse? A: I wanted to make a difference in a person’s quality of health on an everyday basis. What is your favorite part about being a nurse? A: I love being around children. Before I went to nursing school, I was a teacher for two years. I love helping children feel better, particularly in critical cases. Now, I am able to help and have the skills and ability to make kids feel better. Who inspires you and why? “I don’t like …