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Dear Proud Classmates of 1966

Dear Proud Classmates of 1966,

You are awesome!

I wish that I had taken more time to smell the roses, to take a more diverse round of classes. I was so afraid of classes where you had to have an opinion. Because it seemed easier to take courses where there was only one right and finite answer, I never wanted to write papers, and obviously did not bond with the history and English courses. Even though I often had no clue what David Shepro was talking about, I did receive a surprise A in his comparative anatomy exam. I had no idea the only A in the class was mine. The night before the exam, dinner at Bartol Hall was chicken, so I wrote about the anatomy and function on the exam. It did the trick, and I received an A in Bio to go along with my D in calculus.

I was getting engaged and in a rush to get through school so I could get back to New Jersey to get married. So focused was I on getting back to New Jersey that when I heard all the chairs rumbling in chemistry lab one day and peaked my head out, I heard that someone had shot the president. I thought, why would anyone want to shoot President Park, the then president of Simmons, and I turned back to finish my chemistry lab.

It was only when I got back to the dorms and people were weeping that I had any clue that it was President Kennedy. Not having much connection to politics and JFK, I saw my big dilemma as finding a way to hop on the Boston/Newark shuttle and leave early for Thanksgiving weekend to see my boyfriend in New Jersey.

And then, I wasn’t getting married; I was getting a degree in biology education instead. I only survived student teaching because the biology master teacher was the football coach. I was terrified of 10th graders even at Newton South. I was terrified of everything. It always seemed that I was in a rush–not knowing why or where. I was accelerating by having me graduate from both high school and Simmons in three years each. That was a fashion I had no clue where I was going; I just went there. I remember feeling the tremendous insecurity of not having a solid foundation and feeling that choices were being made for me–in my best interest of course. Simmons was different–it was a safe haven for me where I could work in peace and focus in my denim wrap skirt

I applied to medical school after reading The Feminine Mystique. The book gave me courage–if my brother could get into

medical school. so could I. I was accepted at Seton Hall– a Catholic school which became a state school. They got a

woman, a NJ resident and a Jew all in one person. I must have been worth 3 diversity points! I have worked as a pediatrician since 1969.

I got married, had 4 kids and now 9 grandchildren–5 in Seattle, 2 in Paris, 1 in Venice, and 1, now 2 only 8 miles away.

I struggled for 28 years with eating disorders. I still struggle and work on my waistband. I was groomed in a word of verbal abuse and bulimic from the age of 15. I worried about how present I could be for my kids when I had a food addiction. I was thin for 28 years, not so thin for 26 years.

Working on substance abuse for the Beverly Hills PTA and the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and receiving an award for this work was fulfilling.

Yet there have been painful times. Trust me, getting divorced after almost 30 years of marriage was not my choice

I so wanted to be married. My boyfriend of 12 years started developing dementia, my nephew was killed in a car crash, my brother died suddenly. I was privileged to be with both of my parents when they died—they were my balance sheet.

We are all role modeling which direction we take, learning how not to destroy ourselves in the process. There are many mental health issues that no one talked about such as borderline personality disorder. Did we have it then?

We have been so fortunate to have those that cared about us in a very unique way. Simmons made possible the amount of pause that we so needed, the time unplugged.

I am so sorry I missed you all for our reunion, but I am so grateful to have been able to plan a bris for my son’s son, a ceremony, of course, that ended up being on june 4th so I had to cancel my plans to join you for our 50th.

I am so grateful

Namaste

- Trisha Amy Fertig Leiberman Gold Rothenberg Roth

 

Alcohol is Affecting Our Teens More Than We Thought

Results from a recently published survey of Santa Monica teens revealed striking statistics about underage drinking perceptions and behaviors, including:

  • Most believe alcohol is “somewhat” or “very easy” to get (86%)
  • 1 in 4 report they “binge drank” (5+ alcoholic drinks in one session) at least once over the previous 30 days
  • Nearly 1/3 of those who have ever used alcohol have blacked out at least once (28%)
  • Most were only 13-14 years old when they first tried drinking alcohol

As adults in Santa Monica — from parents, to teachers, to business owners, and beyond – we should be disappointed by these numbers.

We often view drinking and driving as the biggest danger associated with underage drinking. We think when adults “take away the keys,” they somehow create a safer environment for youth to drink. This simply isn’t true. Alcohol’s threat to young people extends well beyond car crashes.

Research shows that adolescents are far more susceptible to alcohol and need only to drink half as much as adults to suffer the same effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience unintentional injuries such as burns, falls, and drowning, and memory problems, and have a higher risk for unplanned or unwanted sexual activity, memory disruptions, depression suicidal thoughts, and violence.

Additionally, several studies show alcohol can cause changes in the structure and function in the developing adolescent brain. The prefrontal cortex – the region of the brain responsible for things like planning, idea creation, decision-making and self-control, undergoes the most change in adolescent years. Premature drinking can significantly impact this part of the brain, including the formation of adult personality and behavior.

As adults, it is our responsibility to protect our youth from the harms of underage drinking. We must be proactive in preventing problems before they arise, and understand how our behaviors as adults can influence a teen’s decision to drink.

Educating ourselves and our children is certainly important, but will only take us so far in addressing this complex problem. I believe we need to take a greater step and create changes at the community level. That means heightening our standards. It also means implementing strategies – even Social Host ordinances, like so many other communities have done – that reduce the incidence of house parties, which are consistently places of high risk for teens and alcohol.

Underage drinking is a complex problem requiring a complex set of solutions; there’s no excuse for apathy. We need to be willing to take the steps necessary to make it happen.

Trisha Roth has worked on the Westside as a pediatrician with a central focus on addiction and recovery for over 21 years. She is the former Chair of Substance Abuse for the American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 2 of California.

– By Trisha Roth, MD, FAAP