Behind the Forced Smile


“I was so good at it that no one ever found out.”

One might typically think that if you were good at something, you’d want to show it off, not hide it. Right? Unless what you were so good at was slitting your wrist and inner thighs with the razor blade from an X-Acto knife.

Jessica Quail, a 20-year-old sophomore at Morningside College, hasn’t had the easiest life; however, she’s learned to embrace her struggles.

Jessica grew up in the small town of Sac City, Iowa, with population just slightly over 2,000 people. At the age of 12, Jessica began struggling with depression. To her, “depression is feeling like you’re by yourself with no where to turn. You’re in a place where you have no control over your life.”

There are several things that she credits for the cause of her depression. Firstly, Jessica has grown up without a father figure in her life. Her dad left her mom before Jessica was born, insisting that she wasn’t his and that he wanted nothing to do with her. However, according to Jessica’s mom, he used to drive by their house when Jessica was little and watch her, but he never approached her. Because of this, Jessica’s family moved several times. “I’m 20 years old and I’ve moved 23 times,” she says. Jessica’s mom even kept their phone number and address unlisted for years so he wouldn’t be able to find them again.

Jessica has never met her father and doesn’t have any desire to do so. “Why would I want to get to know somebody who for the last 20 years never tried to get a hold of me? If he died tomorrow it wouldn’t change my life one bit.” Jessica doesn’t know much about her dad, including where he is. All she knows is that he is a fugitive on the run who is wanted for assault, child support, and murdering his own dad. Nevertheless, without having a father figure in her life, Jessica has always felt like a part of her is missing, and that missing piece has been replaced with depression.

In addition to growing up without a dad, Jessica says “being bullied, not feeling pretty enough, not being good at sports, and overall low self esteem” were causes of her depression.

By the time Jessica was 13, her depression became significantly worse and she turned to self-harm. She would cut her wrist and thighs just to be able to feel something. No one knew what she was doing it since she hid her scars, both physical and emotional, so well. In fact, her mom never found out until a year ago when Jessica decided to tell her. She was heartbroken to hear what her daughter used to put herself through.

At that point in her life, Jessica was also very suicidal and contemplated killing herself multiple times. If she had, she would have most likely done so by overdosing on pills. This method appealed to her the most because it would most likely be less painful than others. Bringing to light Jessica’s negative body image at that time she says, “I never thought about hanging myself because fat people can’t hang themselves.”

Jessica never actually attempted suicide, but she continued to struggle with her depression. That is, until she found a creative outlet. She began to open up about her struggles in the form of poetry. At first, the poems were just for her, but soon, she began to share with others. The following is an excerpt form one of her poems.


                    Life just didn’t seem fair

                    No one seemed to notice

                    When she started wearing long sleeves

                    The sparkle in her eye no longer was there

                    Her smile was so forced


Writing helped her to cope, and she continues to use this strategy today. Jessica still struggles with depression sometimes, but she plans to make use of these struggles by helping others.

She plans on being a psychiatrist who specializes in dealing with children and teens who are depressed. She believes that her future patients will benefit from having a psychiatrist who has gone through the same struggles as they are.



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On the campus of Morningside College, the number of students from other countries is at an all time high. Currently, there are 50 international students enrolled at Morningside from countries as far as Japan, Nigeria, Antigua, and more. But what draws these students to a private school in Iowa? Johnathan Jupiter, a junior from Antigua comments.


The 2016 presidential election is quickly approaching. For many college students, this will be the first election in which they’re old enough to vote for president. However, many college students at Morningside are already planning on not exercising their right to vote in the upcoming election for a number of reasons. Jessica Quail, a sophomore, shares her views.


And finally, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means Black Friday shoppers will be in a frenzy trying to find the best deals. However, researches are predicting that Black Friday sales may be weak this year. Instead of facing the crowds, many shoppers are planning to do their Christmas shopping online. An anonymous shopaholic shares her plans for Black Friday shopping.

Morningside: Home to Students From All Over The World

Japan, Germany, Antigua, Nigeria, Spain, Latvia. What in the world do all these countries have to do with a small, private college in Iowa?

Surprisingly, Morningside College is home to international students from all of these countries and more. “We have 50 international students from 16 different countries,” says Mary Krejci. So why do so many choose to come to Iowa? Most international students will give you the same answer, money.

Morningside College awards large scholarships to each of its international students. The specific scholarship amount depends on each individual student’s previous grades and plans for athletic involvement.

According to Mary Krejci, who coordinates with international students at Morningside College, each international student receives a minimum amount of $10,000 towards his or her tuition each year. However, many receive at least 75% of their tuition paid for, just for being an international student. Others attend for free.

Although scholarship money is often what draws international students to Morningside College, there are other reasons that they decide to stay.

Fuzuki Ino from Japan enjoys attending a small college because her professors really take care of her. She adds that in Iowa, “people are so nice,” much nicer than people she’s met in other parts of the country, such as Texas, where she attended high school.

Johnathan Jupiter from Antigua also loves the people in Iowa, along with the snow and other seasonal weather we get here.

While international students typically have positive experiences while living in Iowa and attending Morningside College, there are a few changes they would make if they could. Fuzuki wishes there was more public transportation easily available in Sioux City, while Johnathan wishes there were more beaches and an ocean.

When asked if they would consider staying in Iowa after they graduate, most international students agreed that they would not. They’d rather attend grad school and then return to their own countries or live in a larger city if they do decide to stay in America. However, this is not because of negative experiences. Johnathan would consider living in Iowa for some time because he’d “probably want to send his son or daughter to Morningside.”

Overall, international students tend to come for the scholarship money, but stay for the people.

“Meet the Press” host, Chuck Todd, Speaks to Morningside Students

“Voters want some change.”

Chuck Todd emphasized this statement during his speech for the 17th annual Waitt Lecture at Morningside College on Tuesday night. Todd, who is the political director for NBC News and the host of “Meet the Press,” analyzed the upcoming 2016 Presidential election for Morningside students and members of the community.

Todd brought an intelligent, yet lighthearted presence to the auditorium. His speech began with his family history in Iowa as to relate to the audience. After engaging with the audience about his background, he gave an enthusiastic “Go Mustangs!” He then began discussing the presidential race.

He stressed that the 2016 election will be all about electing change. The majority of people believe that the country is currently headed in the wrong direction. Because of this, voters, specifically Republicans, are turning to candidates who are not politicians, hence the increasing success of Trump and Carson in the polls.  He commented that supporting unconventional candidates like Trump is many voters’ way of giving a “collective middle finger to Washington.”

As for a prediction of the Republican party, Todd says, “I have no idea who the Republican nominee is going to be. If anyone claims to know, they’re full of it.”

Todd also made some predictions for the Democratic party. As for Biden entering the election, Todd predicts that he will decide not to run and then regret his decision.

He noted that based on the recent debate, the strongest candidates are Clinton and Sanders. Todd joked that the Democrats had “more zombies on the debate stages than in the walking dead.” He was undoubtedly referring to Sanders’ old age and appearance by making this statement.

If the Democrat nominee does end up being Sanders, this could give the Republicans an edge. Todd noted that “we normally elect the younger candidate.”

Todd ended his speech by encouraging young, bright people to run for office. “I’ve watched the collective IQ of congress go down ten points every year.” This statement received a roaring applause. Although running is often humiliating, “we’re never going to change Washington if good people don’t run.”

Morningside’s Most Interesting Professor

Meet Dr. Patrick Blaine. He’s anything but your average college professor.

He drives to school on a motorcycle, makes his own beer, speaks multiple languages, and travels the world.

Patrick Blaine is a professor for the English and modern languages department at Morningside College. He is extremely involved in activities both in the community and on campus. As a member of the community, he partakes in providing language proficiency testing for the Sioux City Police Department, is President of the Friends of KWIT board, and is on the board for the Siouxland Institute of Film.

As for Morningside activities, he helps to oversee multiple student organizations including Film Club, International Students Association, Spanish Club, and ODK. He is also a part of the study abroad committee.

It is clear that Professor Blaine’s favorite thing to do is travel to new countries. He has spent time in Chile and Spain, and plans to travel to Italy next semester with a group of Morningside students to study abroad.

However, he has not enjoyed quite every place he has traveled to. In particular, he was not a fan of Kelso Washington. He only passed through the town once, but he believes we “should wipe it from the map” because there’s “no water and the people are all ugly.” Nevertheless, he aspires to continue traveling the world.

Although Professor Blaine leads a busy life, he also knows how to relax, something that is important for students to learn how to balance. He’s very involved in the community, but also enjoys binge-watching tv shows for six hours straight. In his words, “I work hard, and I play hard.”

Former English Teacher Adapts to Life as a Rockstar

You may not picture an English teacher as being a rockstar, but for songwriter and guitarist Don Cooper, that’s exactly what he’s working to become.

Three years ago, Cooper formed the music group, ‘Don Juan,”  along with guitarist, singer, and songwriter, John Dodge. For three years, Cooper didn’t believe he could make a living with his music, so he kept his day job as an English teacher. Eventually, he decided he was tired of living his life “with a just-in-case attitude,” and decided to focus on music instead.

Last summer, the group played a show in New York with Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Dodge says, “James has been a real fan for awhile and Jackson Browne turned into a real solid supporter.” However, one critic is not a fan and said, “They do nothing original. They steal all of their songs and the ones they do write are not worth hearing.

The group plans on recording in the spring. According to Dodge, “There will be a product on the streets, on the airwaves, we hope, by the end of the summer.” While writing songs, the group often squabbles over the details, but it’s the “creative tension” that helps the group mold a new song. “Writing songs together ain’t easy. We’re writing quite a few, but it’s tough. But it’s worth it.”

How We Listen To Music: Clinging To Old Ways

With digital music downloads and streaming services on the rise, physical album sales are steadily decreasing. However, some artists and fans are doing their best to fight the digital trend. As of now, more traditional ways of consuming media, such as vinyl and radio, are far from dying out.

Neilson Music reports, “Radio continues to be the No. 1 source of music discovery in the U.S, with 61% of respondents saying they find out about new music from AM/FM or satellite radio,” which is actually an increase from the previous year. Even in the age of digital music downloads and streaming services, traditional radio is still surviving.

Streaming services and digital downloads make purchasing music much easier for fans, but ultimately, these methods are cheating the artists. This is why many classic rock bands, such as The Beatles and AC/DC, held out on making their music available on iTunes and/or digital streaming platforms for as long as possible.

While speaking to UK’s Daily Telegraph, members of AC/DC described iTunes as “a monster” that was “going to kill music if they’re not careful.” They also argued, “If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album, and we don’t think that represents us musically.” However, since then, AC/DC has joined iTunes and online music streaming services.

While artists do make money from streaming services, the profit is very minimal. The Guardian reports that Spotify pays artists “between $0.006 and $0.0084” each time one of their songs is streamed. Other streaming services may pay artists even less. Instead, many artists have voiced that they prefer fans buy their music in the form of a complete album.

Vinyl records, which began gaining popularity in the 1950’s, are also surviving in the digital age, and even gaining popularity. They can easily be found at chain retail stores such as Barnes & Noble and f.y.e. Independent record stores are also gaining support from artists and fans.

There are even Netflix-like subscription services that send vinyl records to members on a monthly basis. While vinyl is more expensive, it’s the nostalgia that keeps music lovers coming back.

Although the popularity of digital music continues to grow, traditional ways of consuming music, such as radio and vinyl records, are far from obsolete.

Heeeeeeere’s Christina!


Christina Vasquez is a sophomore at Morningside College in Sioux City, IA. She is double majoring in Mass Communications and Graphic Design. In her free time, she enjoys eating everyone’s food, watching television, and napping. However, she is not as lazy as she may appear. She has made the Dean’s list, is a member of the honor society ALD, and is set to graduate Morningside with honors.

She is also a self proclaimed nerd and admits to having obsessions with macaroni and cheese, anime, sci-fi, superheroes, and Taco Bell. Her favorite menu item from Taco Bell is a bean burrito with nacho cheese and no onions. However, if the onions were sautéed, she would gladly digest them.

As for music, Christina DJs her on radio show on KMSC where she plays oldies music.