Stress is a fact of life, but two innovative Silverswords want people to know the story doesn’t end there.
And their work is getting wide recognition.
Earlier this year, Aloha Lei Garo ‘22 and Taylor Ishisaka ’22 embarked on a research project aimed at helping their fellow students recognize when their anxiety levels were getting too high and giving them new tools to manage stress, build resilience and seek out opportunities for self-calming and reflection.
The two then spent long hours preparing to present their research at the HOSA-Future Health Professionals’ Virtual International Leadership Conference over the summer. The event features a competition with postsecondary students from around the nation and the globe, all spotlighting their work and detailing its potential implications for the field. Garo and Ishisaka were pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback they got — and then were even more wowed by their first-place win.
The two took home the top prize in the Health Education category.
The title of their project was “Finesse Your Stress,” and included self-assessments for students, information on why stress can impact your overall health and easy activities anyone can do — from fun games to movement exercises to guided meditation — aimed at boosting resilience.
The presentation also included guidance on when to get professional help.
Lei Garo is studying Biology at Chaminade while Ishisaka is pursuing a degree in Data Science. Both got involved in HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) and its leadership development programming in high school and have remained active members at Chaminade.
“I was very shocked and surprised that we won first place in our category,” Lei Garo said. “It was wonderful to see that all of our hard work has paid off to have this moment for us. I’m glad to not only have represented Chaminade University but also the state of Hawaii.”
Ishisaka added she’s hoping to continue sharing their research and positive message more broadly, including “just how important it is to take care of yourself because we all get stressed. It is something we all face and it is vital to take control of it. It was our goal to educate young adults on the meaning of stress, how to recognize it and supply them with resources so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Ishisaka also said they had to remember their own advice as they put together their presentation, especially in overcoming no shortage of obstacles presented to them by COVID. Because of the pandemic, they had to prepare remotely and frequently chatted with each other over Zoom.
“We adapted to every obstacle,” she said.
“And started to expect the unexpected,” added Lei Garo.
Lei Garo said she wants her fellow students and the broader community to know taking breaks and caring for your mental health is just as important as doing well in school or succeeding in sports. “We get so caught up in the moment that we forget we should stop for a bit and take care of ourselves,” she said. “Taking at least a 10-minute break from stress is sometimes all you need to rejuvenate.”