The Student Newspaper of Catawba College

Pasqua Encourages Students to Practice Healthy Choices

Erin House

Students join Elaine Pasqua onstage for an interactive demonstration on the spread of STD's.

Rebecca Rider, Writer

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Students who attended Elaine Pasquas speech Thursday spent an entertaining hour learning how everyday choices affect their goals. President Brien Lewis opened the time by saying, “This could be the most important hour you spend on the Catawba Campus this year—maybe even all four years.”

Elaine Pasqua has talked at over 450 universities nationwide, spoken for the NCAA, and was nominated Best Speaker of the Year at the NC Campus Reader Awards.

Her main topic? Alcohol, the number one high risk behavior found on college campuses. “I’m not saying don’t drink,” she told the audience. What she did advocate, however, was safe-drinking habits and smart choices. Focusing on athletes, she said that alcohol lowers energy levels and the hormones that go into muscle building, and how one night of binge drinking can affect your performance for the next three days. Her goal was to demonstrate that one bad decision made under the influence can forever impact someone’s life.

It was important, she said, to keep an eye on friends who had been drinking too much.“What I want most for you guys is to learn to look out for each other—you’re a family,” Pasqua said. She also encouraged students to be aware of things like alcohol poisoning–when someone essentially goes into a coma, and can’t be woken. For under-aged drinkers who might be afraid of calling for help if someone gets into trouble at a party, she pointed out that North Carolina offers Medical Amnesty—meaning that charges cannot be brought against under-aged drinkers if they bring a friend to the hospital or call for help.

Pasqua also addressed another high risk behavior: sex. She reminded students that someone who is drunk cannot give proper consent to sexual behavior. 90,000 college students are sexually assaulted each year, and it is important to keep an eye out for people who might not be able to make informed decisions, or who might easily be overpowered or coerced.

Having safe sexually interactions is important, as well, because STD’s are a fast growing epidemic. In America, we usually judge sexual success by whether or not pregnancy occurs—Pasqua advocated that we should be more concerned about STD’s. Out of the 13 industrialized nations, she said, the US had the highest STD rate. Through an interactive experiment with sodium hydroxide and water, she demonstrated just how quickly an STD can spread through a population—especially through unprotected sex. “You have to learn to take responsibility for your own actions,” she said, meaning that it is up to each person, as an individual, to make sure they have healthy sexual habits.

Pasqua illustrated each of her points with stories from people she’d met, whose lives had been ruined in one night, from one bad decision. “We’re confronted with choices all the time,” she told students, “will that choice take us where we want to go? Or where we don’t want to go? Follow your goals first and foremost.” 

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The Student Newspaper of Catawba College
Pasqua Encourages Students to Practice Healthy Choices