MSU will host its first sexual health conference

MSU will host its first sexual health conference
MSU will host its first sexual health conference

Michigan State University will host its first sexual health conference on March 30 in the MSU Union. The conference was created and organized by two MSU students with the goal of creating a comfortable space for learning and discussion on the topic of sexual health.

Human biology and psychology student Nupur Houria and public health student Harsna Chahal have been involved in sexual and reproductive health advocacy throughout their college experiences. Although they found that the space was filled with research, they felt there was little room for collaboration.

«We really wanted to create a space where people feel comfortable talking about their work, getting involved in the work, empowering others to know that they can make a difference, and really open up that dialogue around sexual health, » – said Houria.

Starting about a year ago, Houria and Chahal began working on the conference to fulfill their vision. With the support of several student and faculty volunteers, as well as $27,000 in donations and sponsorships, they organized the one-day HEAL conference dedicated to to sexual health.

The conference will have two segments, one focused on research presentations and the other will include expert panels and audience-based discussions, Houria said. International relations, economics and French senior Maren Nicolaisen is one of six lecturers and research coordinators they have works to build a diverse group of experts and student researchers.

Nicolaisen said she relied on her own sexual health network to find leading.

«Many of us have ties to community organizations and larger organizations in Michigan,» Nicolaisen said. “I and other committee members would go and talk to faculty members who we knew were working on similar things. Also, peers, students who are doing research or just having advocacy experience in all these different areas.”

The keynote speaker at the conference is Planned Parenthood of Michigan Chief Medical Officer Sarah Wallett. Governor Gretchen Whitmer will also give virtually speech at the event.

For Chahal, the conference is an opportunity to increase public discussion about sexual health, which has often felt like a personal topic. growing, she said.

«This whole conference is really helping to make the topic of sexual health a more inclusive thing to talk about,» Chahal said. «To give us a space for people who are passionate about focusing their work on sexual health to be able to show the world that you can work hard to inspire people, that you can enter the field, you can do research, you can even be an advocate.’

Houria said her own introduction to sexual health advocacy encouraged her to use her voice and gave her a purpose in life. She said she hopes to the conference will do the same for others.

«A lot of it is really just building on that passion itself and wanting to bring all these people together, encouraging other people to use their voice and empowering them to get involved in things they’re passionate about,» Houria said. “Because I know for me it was really meaningful. If this conference can help even one attendee learn a little bit more about something they want to pursue in the future or want to protect as I would say we have somewhat accomplished what we set out to do.

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