Written by Jory Gomes ’18
13 hours, $1,500 dollars, and infinite possibilities. On Tuesday, December 5th, Hiram’s Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC) hosted students of all majors for the 2nd annual Hiram Health Con, a health-minded idea-blitz competition. Students, working either in pairs, groups, or solo, competed for $1,500 of grants. In the first half of the event, students brainstormed ideas for improving the climate of health at Hiram College. Then, after spending the night preparing their grant proposal, and playing fun games like stress ball dodgeball, they got a few hours of sleep before coming back in the morning ready to present their ideas to the group and compete for grant money to implement their ideas on campus.
This year was the second annual competition, and coming off a strong year where groups implemented projects aimed at improving mental health, mindfulness, academic success, and exposure to nature—expectations are high. Though the event is over, as of this article’s writing, the grantees have not been announced.
Regardless of the outcome, all students who participated gained something invaluable in the experience. Zoё Sajen ‘19 said that “the event was an opportunity for students to connect with others on developing an idea that interests them… it got students, who came in with different ideas initially, to work together to create and achieve something amazing in the end.” Victoria Fallucco ‘21 added to this by saying that it “[gave] students a way to develop new skills while solving a real-life problems to make a big difference.” For example, Fallucco mentioned an activity that was aimed at improving communication and public speaking skills, “The best part was the PSA [public service announcement] task. Each group was given 40 minutes to make a 30-60 second PSA. Our group was voted first place, so that felt really good!” In preparing a public service announcement, groups got the ability to prepare for their grant pitch the next morning.
Jennifer Kistler ‘19 shared that in her opinion “the best part was bonding with my teammates. I came into the Health Con without a plan or a partner, but the organizers had all the participants say what issue or problem they wanted to address.” Fallucco shared that by bonding around a shared goal, she and her group members became great friends.
All three students cited the fact that the event was centered around empowering students, and giving them the resources to put their ideas into action as the most valuable part of their experience. Sajen added to this by saying that “the jury is still out on whether the groups receive funding or not, but we have many people willing to support our project and that is really cool.”
Though funding has not yet been allocated, and the grantees haven’t been announced, it is safe to say that this year’s Hiram Health Con was a success. The event aimed to bring students together and give them the opportunity, guidance and resources needed to improve Hiram’s campus—and in doing so they have shown students what they are truly capable of.