In a small building across from Tucker Hall sits individuals who have an itch to make a difference in the lives of young women across campus. Every Wednesday in Sunshine Manor from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., a support group, joURney, provides a relaxed and informal place for young women to share their experiences and build new friendships.
“We appeal to women from all walks of life,” said Rachelle Jean-Louis, a licensed mental health counselor at Sunshine Manor.
According to Jean-Louis, it’s a small, intimate group of no more than eight; a place where women can feel comfortable enough to open up about situations in their life. There are no restrictions to what is discussed because, in life, there are no restrictions in an individual’s circumstances, Jean-Louis added.
“The most common misconception is that someone comes here when something is wrong with them,” Jean-Louis said. “With most of these women, nothing is wrong with them. They just need someone with experience and knowledge to talk to.”
Although there are several organizations on campus for women, the difference between joURney and others is that it is not considered an organization. No one is excluded from attending a session; there is not a selection process or interest meeting.
“With the sessions, we hope to assist women in taking their shields down and opening up,” said Jean-Louis. “Because that is one of our biggest challenges: trust. A lot of students don’t want to open up about their lives.”
The topics that are usually brought up are relevant to the daily lives of any student. It includes, but is not limited to, relationships, self-esteem, or domestic violence issues.
Jean-Louis said in her support group, everyone responds to situations differently. For instance, a 15 credit hour class load may be easy for some, but cause an emotional breakdown for others.
For many of its sessions, joURney provides guest speakers to further inform the young women. The career center has visited to encourage the women to be strong leaders in their field. The FAMU Health Center has also supplied crucial knowledge on sexually transmitted diseases, what steps women should take if infected and how to prevent them.
“I hope all of the women that come to the joURney sessions learn to connect with their peers by opening up,” Jean-Louis said.