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 Public Health Week promotes self-forgiveness

Public Health Week promotes self-forgiveness

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Hofstra’s School of Health Professions and Human Services encouraged students not to let failure stunt their positivity during the event “Fail-Succeed: Finding Your Path Over, Around and Through Obstacles” as part of National Public Health Week on Thursday, April 12.

Professor of Health Professions Dr. Jessica Holzer and Coordinator of Information Systems Mike Devlin shared personal stories about how failure has impacted their lives.

Holzer explained the pressures she had as a student at Wellesley College. “I was always around people who held themselves to really high standards,” she said, further explaining that seeing her peers making future plans and accepting job offers was discouraging. “The world was my oyster, but I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

Holzer had a friend who claimed to be an employee at Clear Water Action in San Francisco, California, a well-known company that campaigns to promote environmental protections. She offered Holzer an environmental policy position at the company. Upon arrival to San Francisco, Holzer was shocked to discover that her friend had betrayed her. “The job did not exist, and my friend had not worked there for many months,” Holzer said. This left her alone in a new city with no way to pay for rent.

Rather than hanging her head in disappointment, Holzer immediately began applying for other jobs. Within one month, she was offered a position at a bio-pharmaceutical company where her main responsibility was to wash glassware. “I had a Wellesley education and I was doing what a trained monkey can do,” Holzer said. “But at the time, it was the golden egg.”

Her experience in the bio-pharmaceutical industry opened the door to many other opportunities. “Having this experience was looked at positively, which helped me get many other jobs,” Holzer said. “I decided to come back to New York when Hofstra offered me a job.”

Ujala Nigam, a sophomore health science major, shared her appreciation for Holzer’s story.

“Listening to her made me feel better about my failures,” Nigam said.

Sophomore health science major Natalie Aksnes agreed. “It was nice to hear that other people go through tough situations and still end up being successful,” Aksnes said.

Devlin shared the struggles he overcame after losing his job as a regional supervisor for UPS. He was fired from his job at the age of 33 and was forced to live under his parents’ roof.

“I used to party a lot. Drink a lot. I was always up for anything, but I decided to stop,” Devlin said.

“My father made me apply for 40 jobs a day in order to stay in the house,” Devlin said. Although his father was hard on him, he explained that his family was his biggest support system throughout this traumatic event. “Family means a lot. They’re a great support system. You need someone to pick you up,” Devlin said.

“If it was not for this catastrophic event, I would never have ended up where I am now,” he explained. “I went from being ‘kind of a tech’ to a successful programmer and became the guy I always wanted to be.”

Devlin emphasized that catastrophic failures do not stop you from moving on.

“Being fired was absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Devlin said. He was offered a job at Hofstra 15 years ago and has been working here ever since. “I work here, teach here and take classes here. I love this place.

Kelly Guidry, a sophomore journalism major, was able to relate to Holzer and Devlin’s experiences. “I was disappointed when I did not get accepted into my high school newspaper staff, but that led to me getting accepted to the yearbook staff. Being involved in the yearbook allowed me to find my new passion for publications.”

Both Holzer and Devlin closed their stories by emphasizing the importance of moving on after experiencing a catastrophic event. “Self-forgiveness is really important,” Holzer said. “You are all going to face failures. Just continue to be dedicated to what you want.”


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