USF project helps students overcome challenges

5:52 PM, Mar 14, 2012   |    comments
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Students share their unique stories on YouTube in an effort to give others hope as part of the "Stronger Than I Knew" project at USF.

TAMPA, Fla. -- College students face many struggles outside of class work. A new program at USF is making a difference in these students' lives by letting them know they are not alone.

Students share their unique stories on YouTube in an effort to give others hope. One student lost a friend to suicide, another lost both her parents at the age of 13. Another became an alcoholic at 20, and one teen shared what it is like to be gay in India.

The students' YouTube videos ire part of USF Counseling Center's "Stronger Than I Knew" project. "We all have a story that we have overcome some kind of a challenge. We wanted to celebrate that resilience," says Lani Steffens, mental health promotions specialist for USF's Counseling Center.

The project is just six weeks old and, so far, nine students and a faculty member have told their stories. Steffens says, "We invited these students to make a brief video, no more than five minutes, where they talk about the challenge that they face what it was like while going through the experience and how they overcame it."

USF freshman Thang "Ryan" Nguyen says he joined the "Stronger Than I Knew" project because he felt his story might benefit other students. His challenge is speaking English, yet it didn't stop him from making a three minute video. "If you speak with your heart, people will try to understand you," he says. "Believe in yourself, speak up, and have fun."

Ryan faces his language struggles straight on. "Talk with people. I find every opportunity to talk with people."

The USF freshman from Vietnam took a public speaking class to help overcome his fears. "Don't let it stop you because you have a challenge. When you overcome that challenge, you will feel you are stronger than you are," he says.

He encourages other students to share their struggles and give other students hope. "Everyone has a story they need to share. That story...it will help other people a lot."

USF is currently accepting student videos for the "Stronger Than I Knew" project. To learn more about the project and view other videos, click here.

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