coffee date #30 with ellie mccreesh
SKister, senior, Public Health major, ex-VPNME, Pretty Bird Coffee fan, marathon runner, intern at TCNJ’s AVI department, future health educator, creator of Cards for Connection!
me: iced lavendar latte | ellie: pistachio vanilla latte w/ oat milk & a scone
location: pretty bird coffee, pennsylvania
Ellie McCreesh is a literal sunshine in human form.
Ellie was one of the main people who made me fall in love with Sigma Kappa. During the online rushing process, it was difficult to get a feel for the other person’s vibe and understand if I’d be the right fit in each org. Ellie brought so much excitement and genuineness to recruitment, and was one of the many people who made me want to immediately become a SKister 🙂
After I entered SK, Ellie was my VPNME. She was essentially the first person I knew of in Sigma Kappa. Though all of our meetings were on ZOOM, I could just feel the warmth, kindness, and love that Ellie projected through the computer screens.
“Happiness is being able to laugh. Laughter and happiness are synonymous with each other.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
Post-coffee date: Ellie is such a well-spoken, kind-spirited human being! She’s one of those people who gains so much happiness simply from helping other people. It was such a pleasure to talk about life with an incredibly passionate individual 🥺
- Anti-Violence Initiatives (AVI)
TCNJ’s AVI focuses on preventing power based personal violence (PBPV) on campus. Examples of such violence include dating & domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
“I was trying to be involved in everything, but I had no real connection to anything.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
Ellie described how as a freshman in college, she yearned to be involved in something that shared similar values and to actually provide some sort of service. She also noted that another main reason for her involvement in AVI is because she wanted to learn how to reply to and support her friends/family who may come to her after experiencing any sort of PBPV.
For example, if a friend comes to you for support after experiencing PBPV, it’s almost natural to say something like “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Tell me more.” or “Wow, I can’t believe that.”
Ellie said that saying something like that actually trivializes the experience and “makes it seem like gossip.” Obviously that was an incredibly innocent thing to say, but through AVI, Ellie learned about the more productive replies (i.e. “I believe you,” “I support you,” “Whatever you choose to do/not to do, I will be there for you.”) Instead of commanding “you have to report this,” replies like these are so much more supportive and compassionate.
- Public Health – what it is and why it’s important
Growing up, I remember (very naively) thinking that the only way to provide for others and help other people was by entering the medical field. As I’ve grown older, I recognized the plethora of jobs, professions, and fields that one can enter to serve others – public health is one of them.
“I wanted to help people and also have that education aspect without being in the classroom.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
For me, I always assumed public health was a branch of the healthcare field that solely focused on epidemiology and disease prevention. However, Ellie is involved in a whole different branch of public health.
She described how public health offers numerous routes for one’s career. At TCNJ, undergraduate public health majors are supposedly required to choose a track: social/behavioral science or communications. As someone who picked the communications track, Ellie is interested in doing something related to health education.
“I want to design programs and then deliver them to communities.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
Health educators is a field that deserves so much more recognition and hype. Such a profession enables people to work in many different settings (i.e. hospitals, schools, clinics, etc.) and they play a crucial role in ensuring that people are aware of things related to their health. For example, primary care physicians often diagnose a patient and leave the patient to almost fend for themselves after their hospital visit. For example, if a doctor diagnoses someone with asthma, they don’t have enough time to consult what type of household the patient has to return to – perhaps it’s a home where a smoker lives. This is where health educators can come in and provide that social support as well as medical education regarding their diagnosis.
Speaking of being an health educator and designing programs, Ellie made a freaking card deck called Cards for Connection based on research around circles of sexuality. The goal is to enhance people’s understanding of sexuality by not limiting them to only thinking about identity. The deck comes with a stack of cards, each one ranked as “easy,” “medium,” or “hard” and elevates a conversation by enabling people to cultivate deeper relationships and learn about newer aspects of sexuality that they may have never thought about before.
- Being comfortable with silence
While around people, Ellie and I discovered that we absolutely hate silence. It gives us weird feelings and we just have this innate responsibility to fill that silence. I used to think that silence would only occur during the awkward once-in-a-while interactions with people. However, silence arises even during conversations with our closest friends and family. I tend to overthink the living lights out of such moments because I always had the mindset of “Why would there be silence between people I thought were my closest friends? Won’t we always have things to talk about?”
“Being comfortable enough to not fill it. People will speak when they’re ready.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
The thing with silence is no one is actually straight up blanked out. We fill up the silence because we think that the other person is not thinking about anything, so they’re probably waiting for us to say something. Though this may be the case sometimes, it’s not generally what happens. Most people are constantly having random and free-flowing thoughts, so it’s okay to allow the silence to fuel and to make space for people’s internal thoughts without the interruption of filling that space.
“I really like reciprocity in relationships. I think there’s no better feeling than when you give to someone and they give back to you.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
- The feeling of running
“Runner’s high” is a popular phrase attributed to that almost euphoric, post-run feeling. There’s something so intensely therapeutic about going on a run out in nature, with the soles of your sneakers gripping onto the ground, the wind glossing over your face, the pulse of your heartbeat propelling your body forward, and the idea of running towards something (or even away from). The result of this runner’s high is due to the release of endocannabinoids – “biochemical substances similar to cannabis but naturally produced by the body.” As a fellow runner, Ellie described running to be one of the many times in her life where she found security and felt like she was at home.
- Putting in extra effort for the things that matter – and not feeling ashamed about it
“I’ve learned to not be ashamed of putting in 110% into something.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
Taking care of ourselves is an integral part of productivity and excellence. Sometimes, though, we can get so passionate about something where we get caught up in making sure that that task surpasses our limits. If whatever it is is bringing you joy, then don’t be ashamed (despite what people around you might tell you) of giving it your all.
- Taylor Swift’s life lesson
When I sat down with Ellie, I could just tell that she was in the ‘here and the now.’ She was present and in the moment. Sometimes it’s evident that one is zoned out or anxious and not living in the moment. With Ellie, though, she was fully concentrated on the conversation and was just focusing on the present moment.
Ellie’s one big life lesson for me was to:
“Just live. Focus on today.” – Ellie McCreesh, 2022
To expand on her life lesson, she read out these few lines from Taylor Swift’s Marjorie:
“I should’ve asked you questions
I should’ve asked you how to be
Asked you to write it down for me”
To that, Ellie replied “Just be.” Just ‘being’ and allowing ourselves to feel all the feelings and love all the love that we receive is in-and-of-itself a great blessing. She described it as “living in it.”
Ultimately, she melted my heart and made the conversation feel so incredibly wholesome. What a gem. 💎