The BeltLine Was Lit (well, kinda)

Initially, the two of us were planning to cover separate events for this week’s blog posts. However, through a series of unanticipated events, what started as two posts became one. Here is our story.


Though this may come as a shock, I have never seen Star Wars. Sure, I know that the little green creature called Yoda talks weirdly, and I know that someone is Luke’s father; I’ve just never understood the hype behind some odd space phenomenon. Nonetheless, this past Saturday, September 9, I ventured to Candler Park to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even did some research about the previous films to have some prior knowledge. Upon arrival, I  found the park deserted. However, there was an older gentleman taking down a nearby stage. I asked him if he knew where Star Wars was being played, but he angrily replied that he had no idea what I was talking about. Alarmed, after digging through the park’s website, Facebook page, and recently uploaded newsletter, I discovered that the film was postponed until next weekend. I couldn’t believe it. Frustrated but eager to find a new topic for my blog post, I remembered that there was a lantern festival starting at Ponce City Market very shortly. I knew that Hannah was covering the event, so I called her frantically and explained my situation. Before I knew it, I was ordering a Lyft to the parade.

Jared with misleading sign advertising the night’s alleged Star Wars showing.


When I found a magnet listing unique Atlanta events plastered on the entrance to my dorm room, I noticed one that peaked my interest: the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade. Upon research, I learned that this was an annual, community-wide tradition that kicks off a series of art exhibitions on the BeltLine. After looking through a series of beautiful photos of the event, I enthusiastically gathered a group of friends to attend it with me.

On Saturday, we met at Woodruff Circle to catch the free Emory Experience Shuttle, but to our surprise, we were not the only ones eager to leave campus and capitalize on this free opportunity. As 6:15 p.m. approached, students around the circle started congregating at the shuttle stop. My friends and I assertively forced our way onto the shuttle, refusing to wait for the next one.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at Ponce City Market. I immediately felt a sense of relief. It was a pleasant day, and was freeing to briefly escape the sometimes confining “Emory bubble.” We walked around the market, which had a very clean and rustic aesthetic. Almost simultaneously, we all commented on how refreshing it was to see families with younger kids and dogs. Our company was not just restricted to students between the ages of 18 and 22.

The restaurant area was crowded, but gave off a positive energy. After exploring a number of dining options, from fresh to-go food to acai bowls to pizza to southern barbeque, we settled on a Chinese restaurant that certainly outshined the quality of the food at the DUCling. In the middle of my meal, I received a call from Jared, anxiously asking if he could join us at the parade. Minutes later, we met him at the top of the BeltLine.

Hannah making her way to the BeltLine’s festivities.

Together at the Parade:

We made our way down the BeltLine, passing crowds of people sitting on folding chairs and blankets, others watching from the windows of their high-rise apartments. Without something comfortable to sit on, we begrudgingly settled for an empty space on the cement floor and dug into Jared’s unopened movie snacks. People were walking down the BeltLine holding their lanterns, and we joked that this was the actual parade, since we had no idea when it would start.

A small marching band wearing “Krew of Grateful Gluttons” shirts began walking, finally signaling the official start of the parade. We later discovered that this group, under the leadership of a woman named Chantelle Rytter, founded the Lantern Parade to bring people together and celebrate an otherwise ordinary landmark. The event fulfilled this objective.  

The band was followed by a parade of individuals, families, couples and groups of friends. Members varied in age, from kids fighting sleep in their strollers to rowdier adults with beer breath. Anyone was welcomed in the parade, as long as they carried their own lantern. The designs ranged from Harry Potter to life-size dragons to a whole group of coordinated emoji lanterns. No matter the theme, the bright lights and creativity never failed to catch our eyes.

When it was time to catch the shuttle back, we approached the exit, fighting the huge influx of people who were simultaneously entering and leaving the parade. The crowds were highly unpleasant, as people were shoving their way through the lines and yelling at each other in frustration. We both fell, victims to the merciless crowd.

After finally breaking free and reaching the shuttle, we found that it was at its full capacity. We, along with half of the student population, waited impatiently for the next ride. As the shuttle came to a stop, the driver shielded her eyes from the students flooding the seats, aisle, and everything in between. She even generously let a few desperate stragglers sit on the bare floor.

On the unpleasant ride back to campus, we each reflected on our eventful nights. Though our initiation into the greater Atlanta community on the scenic BeltLine was certainly worthwhile, we both agreed that this was a one time feat.

Check out our highlights from the Lantern Parade below:


Cox, Caroline. “Lighting the BeltLine: How a Motley Krewe Created an Atlanta Tradition.”Choose ATL,

Parade, Lantern. “Help Illuminate One of Atlanta’s Great New Traditions!” The Atlanta BeltLine, 2017,

Kellee Maize. “Crown.” CROWN, J. Glaze, 2017.

Wellness Wednesdays

As school work and studying have begun to pile up as we near mid-semester, a bit of stress is normal within every college student. However, becoming proactive in managing that stress is vital in achieving a healthier mind and soul. To help manage some of my tension, this past Wednesday I decided to delve into the world of attending, Yoga in the Park.

I, in fact, happen to love yoga, yet my only prior experience had been in a 95 degree room, with rivulets of sweat dripping off my nose, that is; I was enthusiastic to try this new outdoor adventure. For many, yoga can offer a multitude of benefits for the body, soul, and spirit. As a victim of JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), I aim towards achieving a healthy mind within a healthy body. This past week, I decided to venture into the realm of peace and solitude for one hour in the park of Atlantic Station. Through my practice of breathing techniques and meditation, I will share with you what I recognized in these 60 minutes of tranquility.

Tabletop Position

Prior to my departure, I slipped on my lycra leggings and tank top, tied up my Nikes, grabbed my yoga mat and headed out on the town. The ride from Emory was about 30 minutes, and I could feel butterflies fluttering in my stomach on the drive there; My excitement was pulsing. As I stepped out of the car, a gust of warm air swept across my face while blowing my hair in various directions. I then scoped out the area and felt a certain ~East Village, New York City~ vibe. While taking in a deep, elongated breath – I smiled – immediately feeling a sense of joy in the air. The sun was just beginning to set, and a positive energy set in, enclosing itself around me.

As dusk approached the class commenced, just around 6:30pm. Having arrived five minutes past, I laid out my yoga mat and caught up with the class in the Downward Dog stretch. The class was held on a smooth tarp rectangular field, with observers from nearby restaurants surrounding the outer edges to watch, as we transformed from one pose to the next.


I immediately acknowledged the diversity between each and every participant of the class. In this open environment, Mothers were able to bring their children, lovers came with significant others, and even a variety of people brought along their canine companions to take part in this journey. Since this was an hour of free admission, a number of people joined in halfway through simply because of each participant’s dedication.

I then turned to my left, and caught a glimpse of a little girl attempting to remain in her Downward Dog pose, trying her very best to keep up with the rest of us. I smiled to myself, and looked around a bit more. I noticed her gaze varied from down towards the ground, then back up to her mother, a well trained Yogi with sculpted back muscles and a toned body. The girl was mimicking her every action, as her mother kept turning to check and see if she was alright. I then thought of myself in that very moment, as we all shared something in common that day: a maintenance of the same intrinsic value of Yoga, and its abundant benefits.

Downward Dog

While floating from one pose to the next, I did not feel the atmosphere to be intimidating whatsoever, rather it was quite peaceful. It seemed to me that Wellness Wednesdays are the type of activity which recognizes and values diversity in all of their participants. The location, directly centered within Atlantic Station, offers people not only the opportunity to stop their busy day and take an hour to destress, but a chance to become a part of something much larger than themselves. The instructor, Raji, was incredibly assistive; He guided everyone through the correct positioning and stretch while understanding each person’s own limitations.

“It’s cool,” he announced as we transformed through our warrior one into warrior two, “We’re all in the same pose, just different positions; That’s like life.”

Inspired by his words, I introduced myself to Raji at the conclusion of our class, telling him of my purposeful journey into Wellness Wednesday.

I began to ask him his favorite aspect of teaching here: “This is my second year teaching the outdoor Wednesday class, and I truly love it.” he started. “The community aspect, having everyone get together for an hour of relaxation and clearing of the mind – that is special. It’s awesome how people can bring their kids, families, dogs, whoever you want really, and still have a great time.”

Raji’s words resonated with me, as I realized that Yoga encourages a sense of diverse community, while congruently forming individuals into a stronger, more vibrant people. To still the mind and be able to simply let go – that is vital in order to maintain a healthy level of stability and security. This was not an environment ridden with intimidation, rather a place to feel empowered within our hearts and minds, at any age or strength. When I began to walk away from the class, I felt increasingly aware and connected to my body, while sensitive to all my surroundings as a feeling of relaxation and calmness washed over me. I highly recommend attending Yoga in the Park, for Wellness Wednesdays are now my favorite day of the week!

Half-star pose

Elm Street Eatery: NOLA Style

I pulled up to the cutest little house on Elm Street in an Uber and called my mom to tell her I was outside, she said she tracked my phone and already knew so the door was unlocked. She tracked my phone as long as I remembered because my mom is the definition of over protective. When I walked in, the kitchen was filled with savory aromas; if only I could share that smell with a picture. She had Camellia red beans simmering in a pot, crawfish étouffée in a bowl, and had just began preparations for stuffed bell peppers.








I said “Wow, ma. You really transformed this AirBNB into the ‘Elm Street Eatery’ with all this cooking.” She recanted in that New Orleans accent that I had missed so much, “Girllllll, when you told me that you ain’t had no red beans in three whole weeks, I had to come see ya. That should be illegal.” She poured me a glass of wine and told me to let her know how the étouffée was, even though she had cooked it over a hundred times since I was born.








She had flown with so many pots, pans, and bags of seafood stuffed in her checked luggage that TSA broke the locks on her bags.








She saw me taking pictures of everything and said “You and that damn snapchat, always taking pictures. Just live!” I explained to her that it was for a school assignment and that I was posting on a blog. Upon hearing that, she said “oh, well take a better picture of me!” I ended up bargaining with her, I would only take a better picture of her if she fixed me a bowl of red beans.






She finally finished cooking everything she planned to, and sat down and talked with me about what was happening back home, how my classes were, and the cases of water she wanted to get me in preparation for the hurricane heading toward Georgia.  After eating my favorite meal ever, stuffed bell peppers and baked macaroni and cheese; she suggested we end my blog with a “cute selfie.”

Rollins School of Public Health: For the Prospective Student

rsphweb. (2014, December 23). The Rollins Experience [Video file]. Retrieved from


Rollins School of Public Health: By the Numbers. Created using

If you’re a student in search of a school that will launch you towards your dreams of working in public health, look no further. Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, ranked seventh in the nation, consists of six departments, all of which study and work towards improving the world’s most prevailing public health issues: behavioral sciences and health education, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy and management, and global health. All departments are taught by doctoral level faculty who are also involved in research. Rollins collaborates with some of the world’s biggest health organizations and agencies such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With Atlanta known as the “Public Health Capital of the World”, Emory’s Rollins school attracts students from all over the world.  

Rollins encourages a tight-knit and inclusive community between the students, staff, and faculty. The school’s education is enforced through an engaging cultural aspect with respect to all types of diversity, and it doesn’t stop in the classroom. Rollins’s dedication to inclusion sticks as the school reaches out into all communities in effort to eliminate health discrepancies. As a core part of the curriculum, partnership with diverse communities in public health work remains an integral part of a Rollins education. Diversity is evident in the student body itself. Students come from 46 states and 40 countries, with an international student percentage of 15%. Over 70 languages are spoken at Rollins, and the school understands the importance of communication–building university resources with a diverse faculty and staff.

Kate and Michael interviewed Chris Moye, a first year student at Emory who is thinking about studying public health.

Coming from the Atlanta area describe the health disparities regarding different communities. What do you think the underlying issue is?

I think that the underlying issue in the disparities that are experienced by different communities in Atlanta is strictly a result of economics. People who have a lower socioeconomic status are not able to access to the same health care options as middle-class families, and this can be the difference between life and death.  


The Robin’s school of Public health emphasizes an environment of inclusion. The school is extremely diverse. How has this impacted your decision when thinking to apply?

The diverse background of students at the Robin’s school is one of the most important things to me as a minority. Being educated with other minorities is important to me because it will help to approach the field of medicine from different perspectives. This will help me to become a better physician in the future, while also helping me to figure out how to solve complex healthcare problems in my own community and beyond.


Coming from Atlanta, Chris has seen poverty-stricken neighborhoods that simply cannot afford the same health care options as wealthier communities. Based on the mission of the Rollin’s School, it is clear that these students are striving to not only learn more about public health, but also give back to the community in different ways. The diversity of the school, as Chris mentioned, provides the healthcare community with multiple perspectives and backgrounds. Giving back to the community is an important aspect of life that often goes unnoticed. Much like the free-riding theory of economics, people often wait for others to give back instead of putting themselves out there and making an actual difference. Emory’s Rollins School seems to be that catalyst for action as its students are eager to create solutions to the multitude of problems in the healthcare industry.

If interested in the Rollins school of Public Health, one should start to explore the many steps to apply. Whether its collaboration with experienced CDC researchers, or having tight-knit relations with the Winship Cancer Institute, Rollins is the perfect fit for incoming students in the public health community.

Fall 2018 application:

  • Due August 2, 2018.
  • Average GPA for MPH/MSPH applicants is 3.5 or higher.
  • Transcripts.
  • Two evaluations from academic advisors or faculty.
  • Written piece regarding experience in research.
  • GRE test scores.

Four types of degrees may be earned at Rollins:

  1. Master of science in public health (MSPH)
  2. Dual and doctoral degrees
  3. Master of Public Health (MPH)
  4. and Executive MPH Program.


Apply to Rollins for endless opportunities to experience and learn about the world of public health!

Rollins even holds two-hour information sessions on campus from 10:30am – 12:30 pm.

rsphweb. (2014, December 23). The Rollins Experience [Video file]. Retrieved from

Decatur Book Festival


Pictures above: Canopies of vendors’ booths

Bright colored canopies graced the streets of downtown Decatur, attracting a massive sea of people eager to participate in the festivities. If anyone in Decatur or its surrounding areas needs an amusing way to spend their weekend with their family, friends and pets, they must check out the Decatur book festival when it returns next year. Filled with food, performances, lectures, and of course, books, the event brings together the community with attractions for people of all ages and with different interests. Continue reading “Decatur Book Festival”

The Black Male Initiative @ Emory University

With the dawn of a new school year, comes the dawn of new changes for Emory University. While some, such as the demolition of the Dobbs University Center, are extremely obvious, there are others that aren’t known to the general public. The Black Male Initiative (BMI) is a pilot program targeted at first-year black males at the University. The purpose of the program is to counteract the disproportionately high dropout rate experienced by black males in comparison to their other peers. To do this, the program is designed to give black, male, first-year students both academic and professional resources as well as develop leadership and comradery between each other through events, workshops, and outing in Atlanta. It great to know the purpose of the program, but it’s much more important to see the impact and effectiveness of said program. How do current students feel about the program? Why or why not students applied to BMI? How well known is the program in the Emory community? To answer these questions, we decided to interview three students, Aaron Campbell, Christopher Benedict, and Alex Koo, in order to provide more perspective.

Harris Hall is a traditionally second-year resident hall where some freshman and the BMI reside.

When speaking with Aaron Campbell, a member of the pilot program we learned more about what the program means to him, the Emory community, and the greater black community. The desire to be surrounded by “an environment where black people did well… were successful… [and] were educated” drove Campbell to initially apply for the program. It was clear that Campbell felt as though this program was important and he wanted to be a part of it, due to its recognition of such a prevalent issue. Regarding the BMI’s relationship with other first-years in Harris Hall, Campbell expressed a generally positive relationship between the two groups but voiced concern that “more awareness” could be drawn to the purpose of the initiative itself.

We found the remarks made by Aaron regarding the BMI to be quite interesting, but we wanted to know how others who were not part of the program saw it; more specifically, a black male who did not participate in it and one of Campbell’s fellow hall mates. Christopher Benedict is another first-year black male at the University, who unlike Aaron, decided not to be part of the BMI. Benedict argued that while the idea of a program such as the BMI was good, he wanted a more “immersive” first-year experience. Another first-year named Alex Koo is a current resident of Harris Hall as well. When asked about the BMI she did not initially know what it was, however, after we explained to Koo the premises behind it, she had a better understanding. Koo described being put in a sophomore dorm as “shocking,” however, much like Campbell, she described the atmosphere as a “friendly community.” Koo recognized Emory University’s proactiveness to take the initiative to set up the program, but she did voice concern that more information regarding its purpose should be advertised to other members of the University.

Overall, it seems like the Black Male Initiative here at Emory is just the first step to a longer process. Being that this is the pilot year and the year just got started, it’s hard to judge whether the program is effective in meeting its goals. However, it can be concluded from speaking to Campbell and Koo that the BMI creates a close community for participants surrounded with like-minded individuals. Moreover, the program is being proactive in trying to solve such a pressing issue, therefore we can see the strides being taken and a possible bright future for the BMI and university.

By Zion Kidd and Daquon Wilson

Volunteer Emory at Oakland Cemetery: “Great Success”- Borat 2006

It was a sunny, beautiful Saturday morning, the birds were chirping and the sound of volunteer feet echoed on the concrete.

After heading down to the Ducling for breakfast with a few of my friends, we were on our way to the WoodPec where all the volunteers were scheduled to meet.  As we set foot in the WoodPec, the chatter of hundreds of volunteers trying to fulfill their PACE requirements filled the place.


We followed this chatter all the way to the “front desk” where we checked in and were given name tags and told to get to know some of the other people going on the trip with us.

After aimlessly walking around the wide court, not even glancing at strangers so as to avoid any early morning conversations, we were all transported to and then distributed amongst 4 blue Emory shuttles.

It was just a 30-minute bus ride to Oakland Cemetery yet it was one of the worst bus rides of my life, as one of my peers was talking at a brain drilling volume, non-stop for all 1800 seconds.

After we arrived at our destination we were met by a few tour guides who led us to the groundskeeper of the cemetery, they then gave us a speech speaking to the importance of what we were doing and how they genuinely wouldn’t be able to keep the cemetery in as good of a shape as it was, if it wasn’t for all the volunteers.

Soon after, we were distributed in small groups of 12 and given different tasks.

After getting to know a few people within my group, I decided that I would be of most help to the cemetery by shoveling the mulch into wheelbarrows, that would then be spread out on different sites at the cemetery to work towards the end goal: enriching the soil that was starting to decay.  4 hours after shoveling the mulch under the excruciating heat, we had finally gone through over 3/4s of the huge pile that was there when we first arrived.

Overall, even though the work was excruciatingly difficult, and gave me back pain, I really enjoyed volunteering with Volunteer Emory, especially since I ended up getting to know a lot of people. Afterwards, I felt happy knowing that my time and volunteer work went to great lengths helping urban projects in Atlanta. Having had such a great experience, I can’t wait for the next opportunity to volunteer.

Gentrification in Atlanta: Focus on Old Fourth Ward Park

Google Map of Loudhaus in Old Fourth Ward

Coffee shops that serve drinks we can’t even pronounce, overpriced high rise apartments, and stores selling jewelry that costs more than our rent, just two blocks away from the houses where we grew up. Gentrification is a phenomenon “occurring nationwide. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the process of renewal and rebuilding to accompany an influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” There are many examples of this in Atlanta and surrounding areas such as Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, and Grant Park.

Old Fourth Ward Park, specifically, has been in the process of gentrification for decades. “The area west of Boulevard went from 12% to 30% white and the area east of Boulevard went from 2% to 20% white,” according to Wikipedia. Expensive new apartments and condos caught the attention of many buyers, due to the proximity to popular areas like Downtown, Midtown, and Inman Park. Wikipedia describes these neighborhoods as attractive to buyers due to its “urban vibes.” I’m assuming the Urban Vibes being discussed there are the same ones people talk about in New Orleans, the ones that typically make white women clutch their purses to their sides, lock their car doors, or cross the street. Apparently these same “urban vibes” are the ones that developers are looking to drive out with their overpriced living prices that they market as “city living that is financially attainable to a broad spectrum of renters.”

Gentrification displaces native residents and causes affordable housing to become few and far between. The needs of the community becomes overlooked and development planners become the priority. Some people feel that gentrification is a process that takes many years, giving natives to the area ample amount of time to relocate. Proponents for gentrification tend not to use the term, and instead opt for “economic development.” They argue that if wealthy people didn’t move into the areas that they would stay economically undeveloped.


Flats at Ponce City Market. N.p., n.d. Web.

“Gentrification.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web.

“Gentrification of Atlanta.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Aug. 2017. Web.