Author: Yona María

No pudo con el empuje

It’s been quite some time since I last sat down to write anything that isn’t related to my dissertation, but today cannot go unnoticed. I write this in English to make sure anyone outside of Puerto Rico is able to comprehend the magnitude of what just happened last night, when our EX-governor resigned (porque no pudo con el empuje!). Last night was a historic win for the people of Puerto Rico. For decades, we have been crushed by corruption and white collar money laundering. We have been subjected to colonial rule during the worst economic crisis our country has seen, overseen by a fiscal control board appointed to the island – a board that pulls puppet strings tied to corrupt politicians. We were taken advantage of in the aftermath of Hurricane María, when our people were hurting the most.  Roselló (and everything that he represents) thought that we would quiet down, that we would get tired of raising our voices, banging on cacerolas, protesting on the streets in every corner of the world… But what …

An open letter to my 34th year on Earth

Dear 34,  I didn’t think I would be writing one of these again… But, it appears to have worked well last year, so I’m making it a thing. First things first: you, my dear friend, have been a pleasant surprise. After the clusterfuck that was 33, I wasn’t expecting much. Still, I leapt into your arms with pizzazz at midnight 365 days ago, and I must say, you didn’t disappoint! You caught me, dealt with my foul mood, and told me to stop whining. Then, you proceeded to give me 12 months of what I’m calling “reward season”. For every door closed during the year-long period of “persistent heartburn” that was 33, you told me to work harder, put on another (snazzier) outfit and knock again. Reapply, revise, resubmit, rethink, readjust… and, would you look at that: it worked every time! Hell, it sent me to Oxford this summer, which I will rank as one of the best experiences of my life.  On that vein, you’ve also brought some fantastic humans into my life… people …

The beauty of connecting

Relationships. They can make us, and they can break us. I find this is particularly true during phases of uncertainty and personal growth. These phases tend to bring self-doubt, internal monologues that challenge you at your core, and just general growing pains. So, the relationships you choose to foster during these moments are pivotal. I have recently been experiencing one of these moments of change. It’s been exactly two months since I was last able to sit down, decompress, reassess, and write about life – mainly due to a hectic teaching and traveling schedule. Yet, in the midst of all of this, I have attempted to be present and deliberate in my choices. One of these has been to focus on the people currently in my life that complement my journey and push me to think bigger, be better, and smile brighter. I have always loved to engage with others. Connecting fills me with immense joy (which is probably why I am most content when teaching and sharing stories). The ability to use the right …

Tuning out the noise

My mind is a very noisy place. To say that my brain runs on overdrive is an understatement. I have a very inquisitive mind. I love to ask questions, learn new information, and come up with novel ideas. But that also means I like to overthink, overplan, and overanalyze. This has only amplified this past year, with multiple facets of life competing for my attention. Needless to say, it feels quite crammed and loud up there. This recent increase in neuronal commotion has had me wondering why I need to constantly feed my brain with information, and perhaps find a way to turn down the volume. Through some introspection, I think I have managed to pinpoint the culprit: everything has to make sense to me. When I see a problem or a situation that is left hanging, my innate response is to find a solution. I mean, if you solve the problem, the problem is gone, right? And it doesn’t matter if it’s my own conundrum, or if it’s someone else who can’t quite figure out …

What I’ve learned from my 10-day social media hiatus…

I tried. I really did! I told myself I needed a social media hiatus (specifically, a Facebook and Instagram detox) for a myriad of reasons. It’s too distracting. It eats up too much of my time – time better spent writing, reading, creating, class prepping, meditating, any-other-ing but social media-ing. It sometimes makes me anxious, upset, and fidgety. It makes me prone to oversharing and unnecessary people watching. It interrupts my attention span and my time in the “real-world.” It messes with my OCD-tendencies: how many times do you really need to hit “refresh” to see new notifications? And, every time I read an article about 45, it makes my blood boil. So, I figured I’d cut cold turkey. Rip the bandaid right off. I did it once before, years ago, and it was fine. Off Facebook for over a year. This would be a piece of cake. Think “sugar detox,” but “no notifications” instead. Well… this time has been different. Yes, it’s been good to be offline: I have had a chance to really …

OII SDP 2018

For those of you who have been following my #phdjourney, you know I’ve been pretty vocal about the challenges it brings. It can be a pretty lonely and daunting process at times, particularly if you embark on a more independent path. That is why this summer at Oxford was so special. During the first two weeks of July, I had the pleasure of experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with 29 other magnificent individuals at the Oxford Internet Institute‘s Summer Doctoral Programme (OII SDP). The OII SDP is a two-week intensive summer program tailored to doctoral students who are focusing their dissertations on topics related to the Internet and how it continues to shape society. During the program, faculty from the OII provide multiple seminars and workshops related to their research and the current Internet landscape. As a public health practitioner, I can now confidently say I know what TOR, the dark web, STS, and affordances are… and can proudly differentiate between supervised, unsupervised and reinforced machine learning. It was also mad entertaining: I mean, where else …

Summer 2018

As you already know, this summer was a whirlwind. Last I wrote, I was wrapping up my first wave of dissertation research in Tampa, and right about to head out to England for a two-week summer program at Oxford University. Needless to say, it was amazing. But the summer didn’t end there – it was followed by a three-week trip around the UK and Ireland… one that I cannot adequately or succinctly put into words. Several people have asked about the trip, so I’ve decide to share some short posts for each of the places we visited during our travels. I’ll be writing about places to visit, where to eat and just all-around fun experiences about the trip. You can check them out below (I’ll be linking as I write): Oxford and the OII SDP Cambridge Stratford-upon-Avon The Cotswolds Wales Ireland Northern Ireland Edinburgh London While summer is almost over, I was able to squeeze in a second trip to Tampa for some more dissertation interviews, and am just coming back from a quick trip …

Best. Meringue. Ever.

Guys… Look at this meringue!  I found this incredibly massive piece of deliciousness on Wednesday while walking the streets of Oxford with some friends from a doctoral summer program I’m attending. We ended up going to Baker and Spice (thanks to Emily – check out her IG hair diary!), and saw these meringues through the storefront window. For those who don’t know me, I’m a sucker for desserts… and I absolutely love a good meringue. When done well, they are crunchy, sugary pieces of heaven that melt in your mouth… and that, it did! They had two flavors: chocolate and strawberry. I went for the chocolate one, which is more of a traditional meringue, with powdered chocolate on top. It’s massive, definitely enough to share with several people… if you choose to go that route. We, however, decided to each get one for ourselves. 🙃 The easiest way to tackle and not make a huge mess is with a knife. I took a few direct bites, but it was a little difficult to maneuver. The outside …

Navigating that #phdlife: Dissertation Diaries

Let the dissertation games begin! When I first envisioned this series of essays about the PhD experience, I thought I would write about them chronologically… how to apply, what to expect, how to pick your mentors/advisors, how to manage the first few years versus the latter portion of the doctorate trajectory. However, I’m currently smack in the middle of collecting data for my dissertation… as a matter of fact, I just got back home after a month doing fieldwork in Tampa. So, instead of waiting to write about this later, it feels right to share my experience – and all its challenges – as it happens. (If you want to know a little bit about my dissertation, here you go!)  Prepping for data collection When the time comes to decide what your dissertation project is going to be, you have several choices. Of course, there’s deciding what methods you will use: Quantitative? Qualitative? Both? Then, there’s deciding how you will get that data. Some decide to work on an existing project, teaming up with an advisor or …

Cuatro mil seiscientos cuarenta y cinco…

El pasado martes, 29 de mayo, el New England Journal of Medicine publicó un estudio conducido por investigadores de Harvard University, donde se estiman 4,645 muertes relacionadas al paso del huracán María en Puerto Rico. He leído varios comentarios del público relacionado al estudio, algunos de los cuales cuestionan la veracidad de estos números, mientras que otros solo se enfocan en esta parte de los hallazgos. Aquí comparto mi opinión sobre los resultados del estudio y sus interpretaciones. Lo intentaré hacer de una manera simple, sin mucho tecnicismo, para que sea más fácil entender de dónde salieron los números estimados y cómo podemos utilizar esta información para mejorar nuestros sistemas de salud pública en preparación para próximos huracanes. Sobre los métodos Quiero empezar por darle un poco de contexto a la metodología que se utilizó para calcular estos estimados. Primero, el gobierno de Puerto Rico aparenta no haber querido compartir sus estadísticas con los miembros del estudio. Lamentablemente, esto es  algo bastante común en la isla… las agencias gubernamentales tienden a retener este tipo de …