My name is Anastasia Sharp-Keller, and I earned the title of Miss Ball State 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
My term has been unique, to say the least. With so many public events canceled, I’ve had to perform the functions of Miss Ball State to the best of my ability from the safety of home.
Even so, I remain committed to my platform of raising awareness about the importance of taking care of your health, especially during this unprecedented time.
For Spring semester to be successful campus-wide, we must all commit to looking out for our own well-being, including taking precautions against the virus, monitoring our physical and mental health and getting help when we need it.
Find your strength
As someone living with an anxiety disorder, I know firsthand the importance of caring for yourself, especially your mental health.
When I was young, my father left our family. I witnessed my brother, who has autism, endure bullying from classmates. On top of all that, my eyesight deteriorated throughout childhood. Thankfully, a surgery in high-school prevented me from going blind.
All this stress weighed on me, and I developed an anxiety disorder. When it flares up, I get nauseous, I get chills or sometimes I get overheated. I almost always tremble.
For the first two years of my academic career, I attended Vincennes University, preferring to stay close to home and ease into my education while keeping an eye on my disorder.
I transferred to Ball State and I am majoring in psychological science with two minors: autism spectrum disorder and sociology. I will graduate in May.
I’ve flourished at Ball State, but not because my anxiety disorder has vanished. Far from it.
Managing my anxiety hasn’t been easy. It requires hard work and dedication every day. But through a combination of inner strength and outside resources, I’ve managed to find success here.
Commit to the Cardinal Cares Pledge
There are parallels between my story and the current situation with COVID-19.
Like my anxiety disorder, COVID-19 is unlikely to be “cured” anytime soon. For COVID-19, a vaccine for college-age adults is likely a half-year away. But, like my anxiety disorder, we can live with the pandemic and still thrive.
Take a cue from how we responded as a student body in the last half of the Fall semester.
While viral spread spiked at the semester’s onset, we got it under control through social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and following the advice of public health professionals.
Let’s build on our success from the Fall.
You can start by submitting the Cardinal Cares pledge online. The pledge asks you to commit to caring for yourself, for other Cardinals and for our campus and community, and it highlights actions you can take, from staying home when you feel sick to covering your cough and sneeze.
You can take the pledge at bsu.edu/CardinalsCare.
Finally, taking care of your mental health is more important now than ever. Be sure to visit Ball State’s Counseling Center website and take advantage of all the free services designed to help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
Take care and be well.