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Episode 025: Fighting Period Poverty at Penn State with Jess Straight & Emma Cihanowyz

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Meet Jess Straight and Emma Cihanowyz: college students, menstrual equity champions and leaders of the Days for Girls Club at Penn State University – serving as president/founder (Jess) VP of Advocacy/Administrator (Emma).

During the pandemic, DfG Penn State pivoted from sewing kits to running period product drives and polling hundreds of students about the state of menstrual equity on campus. Fueled by their research findings, the club is now working with student government to make menstrual products accessible and free for all menstruators at Penn State.

In this inspiring interview, Jess and Emma walk us through their efforts to fight menstrual injustice and stigma on campus, the challenges faced by menstruators at Penn State, and what they learned from distributing 1,000 menstrual cups to students in last fall’s Campus Cup event.

Highlights

  • What inspired Jess and Emma to get involved with Days for Girls
  • How the Days for Girls Penn State Club (DfG PSU) has transitioned from a “sewing club” to a true “period club”
  • Key findings from Penn State Club’s college-wide menstrual equity survey, which revealed that 2500+ students have skipped class or work due to lack of period products
  • Prevailing menstrual health issues on campus, including lack of knowledge about free product resources and lack of disposal facilities (particularly in gender neutral bathrooms)
  • Their experience partnering with the student body government to address period poverty
  • All about Campus Cup, an event where DfG PSU distributed almost 1,000 Organic Cup menstrual cups on campus 
  • Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about menstrual cups and why they’re such a great, sustainable solution
  • The importance of open dialogue about menstruation
  • What’s next for Jess and Emma in their college careers

Connect

Instagram: @daysforgirlsPSU | @jess.strait | @emma.cihanowyz

LinkedIn: Jess Strait | Emma Cihanowyz

Bio

Emma Cihanowyz is a current undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University in the Schreyer Honors College, studying International Politics, Spanish, and French with a Women and Gender Studies minor. She is the first Vice President of Advocacy for Days for Girls at Penn State and has been a part of the organization for two years, serving on both the operations team and as administrator. Her plans after graduating are to pursue a career in law.

Jess Strait is the president and a founding member of the Days for Girls Club at Penn State University. During university remote learning, Days for Girls PSU pivoted from sewing kits to socially-distanced activities like collecting period products in competition with a rival university and including community experts in the conversation around period poverty. By surveying hundreds of students on their menstrual health needs, the club is now advocating with student government to make free menstrual products accessible on campus. During fall of 2020, Jess led a project to provide almost 1000 menstrual cups to Penn State students through the CampusCup program. She is now preparing to write her thesis on how programs like Campus Cup help fight period stigma on college campuses.

Transcript

Jessica Williams 0:02
Welcome to the Days for Girls Podcast, a show about breaking barriers for women and girls around the world. I’m your host, Jessica Williams, Chief Communications Officer at Days for Girls International. At Days for Girls, we believe in a world where periods are never a problem. We are on a mission to shatter the stigma and limitations associated with menstruation by increasing access to sustainable period products and menstrual health education for all people with periods.

Today’s episode is with Jess Strait and Emma Cihanowyz. Jess is the president and founding member of the Days for Girls Club at Penn State University. Emma is the first Vice President of Advocacy for Days for Girls at Penn State and has been a part of the organization for two years, serving on both the operations team and as the administrator. Jess and Emma have done some pretty incredible things at Penn State and I think you’ll be surprised by my conversation with them.

During university remote learning, Days for Girls Penn State pivoted from sewing kits to socially distanced activities like collecting period products in competition with a rival university and including community experts in the conversation around period poverty. By surveying hundreds of students on their menstrual health needs. The club is now advocating with student government to make free menstrual products accessible on campus. During the fall of 2020, Jess led a project to provide almost 1,000 menstrual cups to Penn State students through the Campus Cup program. She is now preparing to write her thesis on how programs like Campus Cup help fight period stigma on college campuses. Emma is in the Honors School studying International Politics, Spanish and French, with a Women and Gender Studies minor. Her plans after graduating are to pursue a career in law. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Now let’s go on to the show.

Jess, Emma, welcome to the Days for Girls Podcast! Thanks so much for joining us.

Jess Strait 2:02
Thank you for having us.

Jessica Williams 2:04
Absolutely. So you both have done work with Days for Girls for a while, and you’ve been doing some interesting work on your campus at Penn State. And so we’re gonna dive into that a little bit. But before we do, I want to ask you what inspired you to get involved with Days for Girls? So Jess, why don’t you go first?

Jess Strait 2:22
Sure. So I’m going into my senior year, and I first became involved with Days for Girls at Penn State my freshman year, which was actually when we started. And the thing that I really like about Days for Girls is I think it’s such a specific topic, because especially at Penn State, there are so many different service orgs – there’s so many causes that are worthy with sustainability and education, and gender equity and all those different things. And I think Days for Girls kind of touches on all of those in a very actionable way. I think it’s it’s a nice way to kind of work really, really hard at one thing where you know you’re making an impact, and not spread yourself too thin. I just I like that. It’s a very niche issue.

Jessica Williams 2:56
Yeah, that’s great. Emma, how about you?

Emma Cihanowyz 2:59
So this is my second year at Days for Girls. When I started my freshman year, Days for Girlsat Penn State was originally growing out of another organization that I was a part of – it was like a woman’s organization within the Shriners Honors College. And that’s where Jess got her start and that too, but I rolled up to one of the meetings and they were advertising Days for Girls. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is such a cool way to support women and menstruators all across the world. And I really kind of fell in love with the cause and fell in love with the mission. And I applied to be on the operations team. So I worked under Jess for a while on the operations team, working on sewing the Kits. But then I joined leadership as the administrator at the end of my freshman year because I wanted to get more involved. I had such a passion for it. And then this year, since we couldn’t do any sewing with COVID, we really shifted more towards an advocacy lens and what we could do without being physically in-person. And so I really found my love for advocacy there. And now I’m serving as vice president of advocacy.

Jessica Williams 3:49
Very cool. And Emma, when did you first learn about menstrual inequity? When did that hit your radar?

Emma Cihanowyz 3:55
I just always remember being so passionate about it. I don’t remember the exact like eye opening, euphoric moment of being like, Oh my gosh, this is a cause I want to dedicate so much time to. But it was kind of the topic I found, in looking at women’s issues for courses I was in. I took a couple of women’s studies classes and a couple of courses for English, and I was able to pick topics what I wanted to research and what I wanted to do my projects on and I found menstrual equity as the most interesting to me and I kind of deep dived in there. And then it coupled with seeing this organization pop up called Days for Girls of Penn State and I was like, Oh, that’s perfect. I want to join it. So when I was a freshmen, that initial research where I was able to kind of explore things and having a passion for working on women’s issues, I really stumbled upon menstrual equity.

Jessica Williams 4:37
Jess, was this something that you were aware of before you came to Days for Girls?

Jess Strait 4:40
Not at all actually. Maybe the opposite situation to Emma. I kind of came across Days for Girls because I like sewing. And so when Emma mentioned that Days for Girls at Penn State grew out of a different organization, that organization just went on one service trip to the chapter in Philadelphia to sew for a day. And that day was just so much fun. It was so inspiring. And some of the leadership of that team suggested we tried to get a Penn State club off the ground. So I kind of came at it as, I like to sew and this seems like fun. And I think for me, it’s really been… like Emma mentioned this year, we haven’t been able to. So I think I’ve learned a lot about the advocacy space. I know that definitely was not my expertise. So it’s great that we have people like Emma, that knows so much about it and are willing to kind of lead those conversations. But that aspect of it has definitely been new for me. And I really like that Days for Girls International also kind of moves in that way. Because I think when we started, we were definitely a sewing club. And now we like to say we’ve rebranded as a period club.

Jessica Williams 5:35
So you decided to conduct a survey. Can you just start by telling me why you decided to do this survey and how you went about getting people to fill that out? Participants in the survey? Tell us a little bit about kind of how that came about?

Jess Strait 5:51
Sure. So I can say we were actually inspired by another organization working against period poverty, which is called No More Secrets. They’re Pennsylvania-based just like us, so out of Philadelphia. And at the end of last semester, we had a little Q+A zoom call with them, just to kind of talk about their work and what they were doing. And they suggested that one of the best things we can do as a student organization is to find out what people in our community actually need. And I know for myself, I’m a data science person. So I really like numbers. So for me, this was definitely like, okay, everything we’re gonna do from now on, I can back up with information saying this many students said they needed this. This is kind of what we can take to the administration saying, we know this is a problem. And here’s the numbers to prove it. So for me in the way that I look at problems, I was really, really into it. But I think when we started it, it was kind of like we were looking at the semester, and we didn’t really know what to do yet, we were still mostly remote. And then we kind of wanted to see what the situation was on campus. And maybe where we could make the most impact. The survey was very short, I think. It’s like 10-ish questions. So it’s not super long. I mean, we kind of send it out, almost informally. I know we have, of course, some offices on campus that support us that shared it in their newsletters. And we have a great network of student organizations that we work with that shared it around. And within the first like month or so we had about 300 responses, which was a really good starting point. For us, I think we almost stopped promoting it. We were kind of like, okay, we have our information. We know what these problems are. And I guess I’ll let maybe Emma share a little bit about kind of when the focus changed towards the policy brief.

Emma Cihanowyz 7:16
So we found this information through our needs analysis, we called it our menstrual health needs analysis, with about 300 menstruators on campus, and we specifically centered it on University Park. Penn State has a multitude of commonwealth campuses all across Pennsylvania, but we just focused on University Park. We don’t really even know people at the other commonwealth campuses. So we focused it just on our community. But in bringing our survey results to our student government, they were saying we need the scope to be bigger. We want to bring this to the Board of Trustees and say how much of a problem this is on campus. I’ll have Jess go through the numbers in a little bit because I think the numbers are really interesting, and also the comments from people on the survey. But we wanted to expand the scope to the commonwealth campuses, because Penn State really doesn’t like to do things just for their one University Park campus. It’s really like the whole Commonwealth approach. So we started expanding the survey reaching out to people across the commonwealth campuses getting new information. And we expanded our results as of last night to about 500 respond to us, which is really cool. For us, that was our goal number to get. So it’s a really good sample of kind of the Penn State student population and the menstrual health needs. Jess, do you want to go over some of those numbers?

Jess Strait 8:21
Probably one of the most interesting numbers that we’ve been sharing a lot with administration, especially that out of these, you know, 503 respondents that we have, 13% of them have skipped class or work due to lack of access to period products. And then we did specify products. So not necessarily cramps, not necessarily anything else, just straight up not having period products. We see 13% of our students are skipping class or work. And I think that percentage is so staggering because just a University Park alone. We know that’s at least 2500 students that are not receiving a full Penn State experience. They’re not getting the most out of their education, because they don’t have access to period products. So that I think is a really big number right there. But another issue we kind of almost discovered from the needs analysis, that I don’t think was really on our radar before, was period product disposal. So we had 34% of our respondents say that they had been unable to properly dispose a period products and an on campus bathroom. And then in the free response questions we had a lot of students mentioning that bathrooms often didn’t have trash cans, especially for maybe gender neutral or men’s restrooms. If they only have hand dryers…they might not have a trash can for paper towels. So that was definitely a complaint we saw students saying their dorms had taken away the trash cans, there was only one trash can for every other stall. That was something that we had not really realized was such an issue. And we definitely had quite the campaign to get in touch with housing to talk about that, since I don’t think it’s something we really realized was such a problem. And then I guess our biggest number is 66% of respondents didn’t know of any options to access free menstrual products on campus. At Penn State University Park there are a few small, not very publicized options. I know our Student Union Building offers some in the bathrooms which was like the one that most people knew about, if they knew about any at all, but a lot of people were guessing like, Oh, I bet, you know, the campus nurse offers free period products. They actually don’t. So it’s kind of interesting to see these few responses of people saying, Okay, what options do you know if some of those things weren’t even options? And the vast majority of people didn’t know of any place they could go if they didn’t have the financial means to access period products.

Jessica Williams 10:17
I hear from people all the time, you know, like this isn’t an issue in the United States. Except for maybe people who are struggling with homelessness or people who are in prisons, but you’re telling me on a campus, a college campus, that there are literally women who are not going to school because they don’t have period products. It’s just, what?? Did you find that shocking? Because I do.

Emma Cihanowyz 10:42
Yeah, when we saw that number, we were like, Okay, this is going to be our target. Like this is going to be – we’re going to use this to take to the Board of Trustees, take it to university administrators and say this is a problem. You can’t look at that number and tell me it’s not a problem. And it’s affecting so many people across campus, not just women, even. We had a lot of nonbinary and trans folks answer our survey too and say how much of a problem it was for them. And even like Jess said, in the men and gender neutral bathrooms, sometimes there’s no form of trashcan at all, so they can dispose of any period of products. So it’s clearly not on the university’s radar as much as we would like it to be. And so we’re trying to push it and make it really at the forefront of an issue that needs to be addressed in this coming year.

Jessica Williams 11:18
Well, I’m glad to hear that they’re reacting, you know, and they’re they’re willing to activate on the issue. Did you find them to be receptive and the student government to be quick to partner with you and want to problem solve?

Emma Cihanowyz 11:30
Yeah, the student government has a history of actually working on this issue. The reason why the free products are in the Student Union Building is because it was originally our student government’s project, and they initially funded it, it was taken over by the Student Union Building facilities in general. Now, it’s kind of separated from the original student government plan. But the current president of our student government is very receptive to this problem. And it’s one of the top priorities going into the year, partnering with us to be able to bring it to the board of trustees, to bring it to the right officials. We kind of explained that she has the connections, and we have the information. So as you can probably think, a university has a big web of administrators. And it’s very hard to crack that open and talk to the right people. And if you start emailing one, you’re getting an email chain with a bunch of others, just because a university this big has so many interconnected pieces and administrators at play. So the student governor has been very helpful and very receptive to working with us and helping us get connected with the right people to address this problem.

Jessica Williams 12:23
That’s amazing. I’m excited to hear that for you. So let’s move on and talk about your distribution of menstrual cups to students on campus. Did that start before you did the survey or after?

Jess Strait 12:36
Yes, so that was before the needs analysis. Campus Cup was really our big fall semester project. And then once that had kind of wrapped up is sort of when we saw the reason that we needed to do the needs analysis, because we didn’t really know what to do from there. Our fall semester was really all about product access through Campus Cup. And so then in the spring, we really moved more towards advocacy on a larger, long term scale. I guess Emma always likes to say we want to do sustainable solutions. And so giving a menstrual cup for that one semester was great, but then any student that comes next year might not have access to that same kind of program.

Jessica Williams 13:07
That makes sense. So tell us about Campis Cup, what is that? Where did it start? And how did you get involved with it?

Jess Strait 13:13
So we came across it completely by accident. One of our operations chair actually had developed a program for a meeting called Sustainably. And we really wanted to talk about reusable options for period care. So things like the pads in the Days for Girls kit, and also menstrual cups and some other options like that. And so I was actually emailing menstrual cup companies asking for a sample cup that we could do with our meeting, maybe we could do like a giveaway, you know, something like that. I was asking for literally one menstrual cup. And one of the companies that I came in touch with was Organic Cup. And they let me know about this really cool program, they were piloting called Campus Cup. And basically the way that it worked was we had a two week window to sign up as many students as possible, they would send us that number of menstrual cups, and we would distribute them on campus. I remember texting our executive board, and I was like, hey, I’m not sure if this is legit. Like this seems a little too good to be true. You know, it was kind of that situation. But they were incredibly easy to work with. I know, when we signed up my estimate was we could probably give out about 250 – just kind of knowing what our Instagram following was like, what our network was at that point, we were still a pretty new club. But it really took off, we ended up I guess having 960 menstrual cups at my studio apartment, which was kind of crazy. And distribution was a whole project that we never thought we’d have to kind of scale up to the point that we did. But it was really fun. I think especially with the remote situation that gave us an opportunity to do something safely in person, it was a really good way to engage new people. Campus Cup for me was probably my favorite thing I’ve done with Days for Girls at Penn State.

Jessica Williams 14:41
So tell us about like, did you just walk up and offer free cups? How did you find the people who needed them or wanted them? Tell me about the distribution of that.

Jess Strait 14:51
So they did have to sign up in advance, which was how Organic Cup knew how many cups to send to us. So they put together essentially a Google form and we shared the link around. Emma is kind of our social media person at the time as administrator. And so she made a bunch of graphics. Of course we leveraged our networks with student orgs. I mean, we probably Instagram direct messaged maybe 100 other student orgs. You know, we were letting offices know. I know our gender equity center has been really receptive of the work that we’re doing. So like they shared it around. It was almost like a word of mouth kind of thing. Because within the first like, two days, I think we already had 300 signups. So it was just, it was one of the things I think that as soon as people found out about it, they were telling their roommates and their friends and that kind of thing. But I mean, it was really the most like no strings attached program you could think of, especially since menstrual cups are kind of a relatively expensive, upfront investment. I think getting one for free was something people were very, very interested in. And it was kind of a you know, you just put your name on the form and we’ll take care of the rest was really all we were asking for.

Jessica Williams 15:49
So you you ordered – you told them we need like 200 cups, and then didn’t you wake up one day and you were like, we have 1000 menstrual cups on our doorstep? Tell us about that.

Jess Strait 16:01
Yeah, well, when we applied to do the program at Penn State, we had to give an estimate as to how many signups we thought we could get. And that’s where I said 250. But our reach was just much more than I expected, which was such a good problem to have. I mean, even kind of just sharing our mission. People who were not aware of us before became very aware of us from this program. But we ended with 960 signups and so that was the number of menstrual cups, that Organic Cups sent. I was actually concerned they might be a little upset that we scaled so much more than we expected to, but they weren’t at all, they were very excited. I’m actually doing my undergraduate thesis on the Campus Cup program and kind of the social implications it had. So I’m still communicating with the folks that we worked with there. They have worked with several other universities since us and I think they’re gonna have a few more coming up in the fall. So it’s not something that they’re stopping anytime soon, I think they’re seeing that menstrual cups are really such a good word of mouth kind of product, because if you’ve never heard of it, I think it’s hard to want to put that much money up for it. But I thought it was an awesome program. I think it got people talking about periods on campus very, very openly, which is I was something I was so excited about. Just to see our new members get so comfortable going up to people and saying, hey, like, do you want a free menstrual cup and I thought that was just the coolest thing.

Emma Cihanowyz 17:13
And I enjoyed watching like the distribution of it, and people having to come up to us asking for a menstrual cup. And I loved like, I could see people walking around being slightly nervous, looking like is that them? And I was like, yeah, you want a free menstrual cup. This is what you’re here for. Like we know, it’s okay. Like it was a really good way to break stigma. And we’ve gotten really good about reading people and having those conversations and breaking the stigma through those projects. Same thing with when we do product drives. You can see people like wandering around with a bag of period products, like kind of scared, not knowing where to go. And really yeah, like take it right here! You can bring your period products right to me! Like being so open about it. And being an example, I think was really cool. And being able to – we had a transport, like Jess said, there were like 1000 cups in her little apartment. And I was walking down the street at one point with like a box of 200 menstrual cups, saying like, I hope I don’t trip and fall and spill menstrual cups everywhere. It was just a fun, funny time with a lot of menstrual cups. And it was a hard project we spent a lot of time on it just did amazing with it. But I think the results were so worth it.

Jessica Williams 18:18
Oh, that’s incredible. I love it. I think a lot of women would would say that was very brave of you, to be walking around campus openly carrying menstrual products. What do you think?

Emma Cihanowyz 18:29
I think I’m so numb to it at this point. I think in the beginning, I thought it was like, I am carrying a bunch of menstrual products. But we’ve done product drives, I’ve walked on the street with bags full of menstrual products too many times now. Transferring them back and forth, we recently did an event like in the middle of campus, repacking period kits for a local organization who was in need of period products. And I’m so numb to it, I could see where some other people who are new in the org…but I think it’s so easy to just break that stigma. And once you break it, it’s broken and you don’t have to really think about it anymore, which is a privilege for us. And something we’re trying to help spread the word about, that it’s okay to talk about periods. Like this is an issue for all menstruators on our campus and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.

Jessica Williams 19:13
Can we talk about menstrual cups? Because I am 40 years old and I never used a menstrual cup and when I was growing up, I don’t remember them being a thing. If they were they weren’t in my orbit. And I always think that, you know, it’s gonna be like really messy and doesn’t really work. And so I’m curious what what you both think about menstrual cups. And the women that you’ve been distributing them to, what’s their opinion about them?

Jess Strait 19:39
So I love my menstrual cup. I’ll say that first. I think it’s one of the best innovations in period care and there haven’t been nearly enough. But I just I had not heard of it until I came to college. It definitely was not covered in high school sex ed. It was not something I knew anything about until a friend actually mentioned it to me. And then of course within the Days for Girls group, I can say, oh Emma, you know, have you heard of that? Like what kind do you use, do you have a recommendation? Which is sort of the great thing that we have a club that’s close like that, that’s comfortable with doing that. I understand the fear of of being messy, I haven’t had that experience at all. I like to change it in the shower, just in case there’s any kind of fear in that space. But for the people that we were able to distribute the cups to, the feedback was just fantastic. I mean, even in our needs analysis, we had like a free response question at the end, just asking if there was anything else they wanted to share about the experience menstruating on campus. And we had so many people saying, you know, thank you for the cup, like, it’s great! I mean, at this point, they have it right, they get the free menstrual cup and they don’t have to pay for period care for up to 10 years. If they take care of it, they have their menstrual cup. And that’s it. Because it is reusable. And if you take care of it properly, it can last for up to 10 years. And it’s such a great sustainable option, I think. And that’s not something that people really think about a lot. But we were very fortunate to have been awarded outstanding sustainability efforts as a student organization on campus. I mean, I think a big part of that was for kind of talking about the environmental impact of menstruation as a space, we were offering a sustainable swap that maybe people don’t always think about. But I love menstrual cups, I think it’s kind of a learning curve. But once you get used to it, you don’t really go back.

Emma Cihanowyz 21:08
I would say the same, I love them! And probably with all my heart, it’s my favorite period product ever. My period has been forever changed because of it, I will forget I’m on my period, which like before was never a thing. I could never just like…I like I genuinely feel like I don’t have my period when I’m wearing it because it’s so, it’s in me. It’s not like…it’s just in, like it’s chillin. And it’s so good. And I have to wait 12 hours at a time. Like, it’s not like four to six hours. If you’re changing a tampon, it can be up to 12. So I will genuinely forget that I’m even on my period, which I think is kind of the craziest thing about them. There is a learning curve. But once you’re past that learning curve, and you figure out how your body works with it, and you’re finding a cup that’s right for you. There’s so many cup options out there now, which is amazing. And I think there might be – I stumbled upon my cup on the first try. I currently use the Salt Cup. But if you try them out, find one that works for you. There’s so many positions to get it and that can work for you like Jesse’s in the shower. I just use it on the toilet. But you really just have to learn and work with your body, work with the cup, figure out what works. But once you figure out what works, it’s your best friend. All my roommates use them, all my friends use them, and it’s pretty much life changing for everyone.

Jessica Williams 22:22
Wow, I’m gonna have to try one now. It’s great testimonials. I love it. I used to work in an OB/GYN clinic many years ago. And our lunch room was a lot like this. Like everyone was so open about menstrual health and period products and sexual things, like it was just a free for all in the lunchroom. And it was hysterical because we used to joke like, you know, most lunch rooms do not have this topic of conversation. And I love how open you both are about this. And thank you for sharing your experience. Do you find that in a lot of situations, you’re modeling the way for other women to be open about their periods and menstruation?

Emma Cihanowyz 23:07
Yeah, I would say I think so. I think once you get the conversation ball rolling. I think it’s much easier to talk about. And sometimes you just need that one person to start talking about their period. And then everyone’s going to share their stories and share their horror stories. And we do some things like as an org to break that stigma. Like I think in our first meeting, we just said okay, does anyone…we have an icebreaker and we said, does anyone have any period horror stories they want to share? It was quiet at first. But then when that one person shared their period horror story of her their sister wearing white shorts at a basketball game and running off the court at halftime because they got their period and having to scrub it in the bathroom. And then everyone kind of delved in with their own period horror stories. And it was funny, and we all joked about it and laughed about some of the most embarrassing moments, possibly of their lives. But once one person started talking about it, everyone else wanted to share their stories. And it was just fun to be in a group of menstruators talking about their experience of menstruation and funny things that we could all relate to and laugh together about.

Jessica Williams 24:05
If people want to connect with both of you, what is the best way for them to do that? Because I I am so impressed with the two of you. You are such rock stars and such an inspiration. And I definitely look forward to seeing where you go in your professional lives and the impact that you’re going to make in the world because I can tell you’re already already making such a difference. So I want to follow you. So how do we do that?

Emma Cihanowyz 24:34
If you want to follow Days for Girls at Penn State, our Instagram handle is @daysforgirlsPSU. If you want to follow our collective organization, Jess and I are both on the exec board: she serves as president and I serveas VP and Administrator. And we’re very active on our social media, with campaigns sharing what we’re doing, fundraisers. So if you want to follow our organization, that’s the spot to do so. If you want to follow me personally, my Instagram handle is @emma.cihanowyz. My last name is pretty tricky. And you can google the same thing on LinkedIn. Emma Cihanowyz.

Jessica Williams 25:06
Awesome. How about you Jess?

Jess Strait 25:07
Almost exactly the same. Definitely @daysforgirlsPSU on Instagram. That’s where you can see just about anything that our club is doing. My Instagram handle is @jess.strait. And my LinkedIn is just my name. And we are big LinkedIn people!

Emma Cihanowyz 25:23
I know, our club had a little LinkedIn workshop. So definitely connect with us on LinkedIn.

Jessica Williams 25:27
And here we go, can both of you just tell me what’s next for you like, what year you are in college and what your plans are over the next like to say two or three years?

Jess Strait 25:37
So I am I just finished my junior year in college, which is kind of crazy. Going into my senior year. I’m studying applied data sciences. And I mentioned getting ready to do my thesis on Campus Cup, which is really cool. This summer, I’m going to work as a data science intern at Organic Valley Dairy out in Wisconsin. So when I graduate, I’d like to do something data science in the agriculture space. I don’t really know what that’s going to be yet, but I’m definitely going to be programming wherever I go.

Emma Cihanowyz 26:03
For me, I just finished my sophomore year today, of college at Penn State. But my majors are international politics, Spanish and French. So I’m currently planning on going to law school after undergrad and I’m taking this summer to study for the LSAT since I will be studying abroad kind of the whole beginning of next year. So yeah, law school is looking like it right now, but I’m keeping my options open. But I hope to have a globally minded and globally focused career.

Jessica Williams 26:32
Very cool. Where are you sending abroad? Hopefully in Paris this spring semester next year, and then hopefully in Spain for both my French and Spanish.

Oh my gosh, that’s gonna be amazing.

Emma Cihanowyz 26:46
It’s been delayed over and over with COVID. Like, this summer I was supposed to, last summer I was supposed to. But I’m hopeful that in the spring, it’ll be kind of back up and running.

Jessica Williams 26:56
Mm hmm. Well, I just have loved having the two of you on and I’m so impressed. And I look forward to keeping in touch with you. And thank you for all of the incredible work that you were doing at Penn State. And not just there but inspiring other women, girls menstruators to advocate and to make a difference in their communities. And I wish you both the best of luck and thank you for coming on the show!

Jess Strait 27:26
Thank you so much for having us.

Emma Cihanowyz 27:27
Yeah, thank you so much.

Jessica Williams 27:29
The Days for Girls Podcast is produced by Days for Girls International. For show notes and resources mentioned in this episode, visit daysforgirls.org/podcast. If you’d like to support the work we do on the show, leave a rating or a review wherever you listen, subscribe to the show, and share our episodes on social media or with your friends. To learn more about Days for Girls and to join our global movement, please visit daysforgirls.org. Thank you for listening. See you next time.

 

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams is Chief Communications Officer of Days for Girls International. She is also the host of The Days for Girls Podcast. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University in Communications and a Master’s degree in Strategic Communications from The University of Oregon. She is also an adjunct instructor for the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business Nonprofit MBA program.