Here at Vibrant Health, we believe health is an inside job, unique to you. After all, you’re one-of-a-kind and your needs are complex – that’s why your supplements should be too.
To celebrate all of the beautiful complexities of our lives, each month we’ve been highlighting individuals in our community – taking a peek into the behind-the-scenes of their work life, wellness rituals and all the wonderful things that make them who they are.
In this month’s Vibrant Health series, we got to catch up with Writer and Adjunct Professor, Corinne Santiago. In addition to her professional work, Corinne makes it part of her mission to advocate for gender equality – and isn’t afraid to be loud about what matters. That’s why she’s a perfect March feature in honor of International Women’s Day March 8th, as the theme for this year is “Choose to Challenge” (focusing on gender equality and bias).
In this inspiring interview, we got to chat with Corinne about her undying love for puppies and puzzles, how she prioritizes her wellness, and some baby steps our readers can take to help eradicate gender and social norms. (Hint: it starts with the language you use.) We hope you enjoy our series…and remember, keep being you!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, emotional, and loyal
What’s a day in the life as an Adjunct Professor of College Writing look like for you?
The best part about taking on the role of professor is the fact that my schedule is flexible and no two days look alike. On days I have class, I get to see my students, and depending on where we are in the syllabus, I may spend hours grading, or just a few minutes looking over little assignments. I love it because I have a lot of time to write for pleasure and seek out freelance opportunities, like writing for the Vibrant Health blog. This semester, due to the pandemic, I don’t have any classes, but I’m enjoying the time I have to explore other areas of my life.
Where did your passion for writing come from?
I wrote my first poem when I was in 5th grade and, I know it may sound corny, but I was immediately hooked. Writing my feelings became my outlet and my coping mechanism. I used to joke that I write best when I’m sad, but the truth is that my writing is strongest when I’m being true to myself, no matter what emotion is coming through. I think everyone should have some sort of creative space to let things pour out and I’m really fortunate I recognized my love for writing early in life. It has saved me, motivated me, and empowered me.
International Women’s Day is coming up March 8th, and this year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge” — focusing on gender equality & bias. Tell us more about your commitment to speaking up about gender equality and social norms.
I am a firm believer that it is not enough to be silently respectful/tolerant/accepting. We have to be LOUD about our allyship and speak up proudly for what we believe in and for those who are marginalized/oppressed and thus unable to speak up for themselves. Gender and social norms must be eradicated and while it may sound impossible and/or terribly far away, every step counts.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that fails to even recognize that these societal norms and gender roles are detrimental. I make it a point to have the hard conversations whenever possible, I put meaningful quotes all over my course pages for my classes to learn words of wisdom, and I never shy away from helping to educate about the current issues we face. I can be pretty confrontational because these things are important.
Gender is ever-fluctuating and “norms” shouldn’t even be a thing. Everyone should be allowed to explore that fluctuation freely and without judgment and I strive to make it known that I’m the kind of person who helps allow that to happen. Everyone is worthy of respect… and equal pay for equal work, obviously! (It’s rather frustrating that these things aren’t universally known and combatted… but that’s why we do the hard work!)
What can our readers do to help create change toward a more gender equal world?
I’m a big fan of baby steps. Sometimes, when looking at a big goal like a world in which gender equality exists and we aren’t beholden to outdated societal norms, it can seem daunting and too overwhelming to even make an attempt. An easy baby step is adjusting our language. Instead of “mailman,” “policeman,” and “fireman,” we can use “mail carrier,” “police officer,” and “firefighter.” (These are just a few examples.)
As a writer, language is obviously very important to me and it’s something we can all do because it only takes a few extra seconds of thought before speaking/writing. Little changes like this can and will lead to bigger changes. Respect people’s pronouns and chosen names. It’s the least we can do to treat each other with the respect and kindness we wish to be treated with. Always remember that golden rule we learned as children! That’s the easiest baby step we can take.
Who are your top female role models?
First and foremost, I admire the women in my family that came before me because they helped make me the woman I am today. Their struggles and strengths have been passed down to me through generations and I’m eternally grateful for those beautiful women of color – especially Mommy. In addition to that, I look up to my therapist, Laura Mazzotta, superhero Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I also greatly admire the late Maya Angelou, someone described as a “writer and activist” on her Wikipedia page: two identifiers I hope to have attached to my name someday.
When you’re not working or writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time to unwind?
If I could cuddle in a puddle of dogs all day, that would be my number one choice. To everyone reading this: tell your dog I love them! More realistically, I absolutely love doing jigsaw puzzles. I’ve got a collection glued and waiting to be framed and put up on display in a place of my own someday. They’re so relaxing and I get lost in my puzzles for hours without even realizing it. (There’s a 40,000 piece puzzle that I desperately want to do but I think it costs $3,000.00 and I don’t have the space to put it together… someday, though!) I’ve recently looped my partner into this hobby as well so I love it even more since we get to spend time together. (He’s my favorite thing and I’m totally in love… isn’t that awesome?)
What’s your go-to Vibrant Health product and why?
I take my Women’s Trilogy! I like the idea of the one-stop-shop. Easy, one and done (or technically three and done)!
What does wellness look like for you?
“Wellness” is a combination of a lot of things. At its core, I think it means knowing yourself, or at least making the effort to get to know yourself. It means taking care of yourself physically and emotionally (whatever that means for you specifically, since it looks different on everyone) so that you can be your best self and love every part – even the ones you feel are ugly or unlovable. I think once you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you can do what makes you happy, be there for others in a way that honors your limits and boundaries, while still being true to all the wonderfully unique things that make you, YOU!
Thank you for being a part of our community! Want to be featured on our Vibrant Health blog? Send an email to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org