SpotlightYouth Spotlight

When we met Andrew O’Neill at the Congressional Award Gold Ceremony in 2014, we were impressed by what he had accomplished to earn his Gold Medal and were interested in learning more about him. Inspired by combining technology and outdoor leadership, Andrew attended Green Mountain College and majored in Adventure Education and Youth Development and Camp Management.

Andrew has put to good use the skills he’s learned in various endeavors, whether he’s building websites and creating a food program, working as a camp manager, editing videos, or learning a new language. Andrew’s curiosity is limitless, and he explores his interests and follows his heart. Read on to learn more about the different projects Andrew is involved in, his top three tips for learning a new language, and the advice he’d give his younger self.

Name: Andrew O’Neill
Education:
Double Major in Adventure Education and Youth Development and Camp Management (YDCM) at Green Mountain College
Follow:
WebsiteTwitterPinterest

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Andrew O’Neill: Young adults have a tendency to be afraid to dream big. Seizing your youth means taking chances toward your current dreams at any age.

CJ: You double majored in Adventure Education and Youth Development and Camp Management (YDCM) at Green Mountain College. How did you decide what to study?

AO: I took a two week-long canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness, and I thought it would be cool to follow a career path similar to the guides on that trip. At the time, I knew I was highly interested in the realm of technology and computers as a potential career, but I did not like the thought of being stuck inside all the time at a computer. I was inspired by the life that the guides on the canoe trip enjoyed that I looked into schools that specialized in outdoor leadership.

CJ: What cause or issue do you care greatly about and why?

AO: I have strong feelings towards the practice of factory farming. As a lifelong vegetarian, I have continued to learn and become more passionate about the abuse of farm animals at these farms and the negative health and environmental issues that this practice is causing on the planet. The way we are treating the animals that we are eating, which we should not be at all in my opinion, has a direct influence on how we are treating each other as humans. I believe that the brutality of factory farm operations correlates to why there are so many horrible acts of war currently happening in our society. I am extremely passionate about this subject and have created a website, ameatfreemonth.org, which aims to provide anyone with a free healthy 30 day vegan eating program to help steer them away from the addictions of eating animal products.

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CJ: You earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal in 2014. How did you get involved with the Congressional Award and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

AO: My mother, who has been a long-time Girl Scout troop leader and an all around incredible person, found out about this program through a student she worked with at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. Within less than a year, I had signed up and was already working toward the Bronze Certificate. Earning this medal has made me realize that I will always be interested in learning new skills and to never stop challenging myself. Participating in all four program areas has helped me to become a well-rounded person excited to guide future youth through the program.

CJ: That’s awesome! We completely agree and support the learning of new skills. You have been a camp counselor and camp manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm Camp – what did you learn from those experiences?

AO: As a camp counselor, I learned about the psychological and social challenges that can arise while working with youth. Often, I was around campers all day and even when exhausted, had to be careful with my words and actions so that I could set a good example for the campers to look up to. The following year, as a camp manager, I was pushed into new challenging roles that helped me to understand the different aspects of running a camp. The camp director was new the year I managed, so I was placed in a more challenging role being a support to the director. In this higher role, I wrote and submitted our entire camp safety manual, created a new scheduling system for the camp that I used to create the actual camp schedules each week. Additionally, I started and maintained a camp newsletter, served as a primary contact for parents during camp, and compiled a camp recipe book that has been in high demand for many years. Essentially, I now feel I have gained the skills necessary to open a camp of my own.

CJ: You are passionate about video editing and have produced promotional videos for a 3D printing shop in Vermont. What sparked this passion and how did you learn video editing skills?

AO: My passion for video editing goes back to when I was a kid. It all started when I was able to buy my first video camera and connect it to my father’s laptop. Around my senior year in high school, my parents gave me a Cannon HD camcorder, and my uncle bought me a laptop for college. This enabled me to begin working on small projects that explored new ways to edit videos. Ever since this experience, I have taken on more challenging projects that have pushed me to expand my editing skills. All of my video editing skills have been self-taught and all from the small and large projects I have completed over the years.

CJ: You taught yourself how to speak Spanish. What are your top three tips for learning a new language? Is there another language you plan on learning?

AO:

  1. Immerse yourself in a country where they only speak the language you are trying to learn.
  2. Read news articles or listen to songs of interest in the language.
  3. Most importantly, be consistent!

I do plan on learning Japanese and already have a computer program called Human Japanese that I plan on using.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

AO: I am working on improving my health by transitioning to a totally raw mostly fruit diet and practicing regular yoga. Additionally, I am reading books about the fruitarian diet, and journaling everyday to help myself reflect on my day-to-day life.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

AO: My trick is simple, I rely heavily on my ability to be optimistic and always be able to find the positive in any situation. Almost always I am able to pause and just do a simple reflection and feel better. Additionally, I will find myself eating something special that I don’t always eat, but that is still in line with my diet.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

AO: There is no time like now to do whatever your heart desires. Answers and opportunities can often be found simply by networking. Every person is a human so don’t be afraid to interact, reach out, and make new connections.

Andrew Oneill Qs

Image: Andrew O’Neill

HealthSpotlightYouth Spotlight

We’ll admit that like almost everyone else with a smart phone, we are completely dependent on and obsessed with Instagram. That includes scrolling through the ‘Explore’ option for endless inspiration. One Instagrammer we always find ourselves gravitating toward is Steph Yu of @happyandhealthy96. Not only does Steph share gorgeous photos of the yummy meals she creates, but she encourages all people to find their own happiness and health in their own way.

On top of that, Steph has written an e-book and runs the website A Happy and Healthy Life where she shares recipes, thoughts, health tips, and even more stunning photographs. Oh, and did we mention that she’s only 19?

If you find yourself scrolling rapidly through this week’s Youth Spotlight to see all the beautiful images, don’t forget that there are words of wisdom snuck in between! But if you look first and read after, we won’t hold it against you.

Name: Stephanie Yu
Education: Studying business at the University of British Columbia
Follow: @happyandhealthy96 | A Happy and Healthy Life

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Steph Yu: To me, seizing my youth is defined by not waiting to live my life, but rather living for the now and not for my future. So often you hear “Oh I’ll do that one day, when I’m older.” But I believe that age isn’t a limitation but rather an opportunity. It’s an arbitrary definition that society tends to use as a barometer for maturity, success, and expectations, but I just like to do my own thing, and live according to my rules and my authentic passions.

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CJ: What school do you attend and what did you decide to study?

SY: I go to University of British Columbia, and I’m studying business at the Sauder School of Business.

CJ: What sort of living space do you live in and how do you maintain a vegan lifestyle there?

SY: I live in a single dorm room on campus. It’s actually extremely simple staying vegan and healthy. I have a minifridge and blender in my room that I use daily! I make smoothies, banana ice cream, bring fruit monomeals for lunch, etc. And for dinner I always go to the cafeteria and get a LARGE salad, with rice, or some more fruit!

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CJ: You’ve written an e-book called “Living A Healthy and Happy Life.” What was the process of writing that book like for you?

SY: The process of writing my e-book was both inspiring and difficult. I had to face all my fears, vulnerabilities, and mistakes, and open myself up to possible criticism. But when I started writing it, I promised that I would be genuine and authentically tell my story. I share a lot more than I expected I would, but I’m glad I did, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who can relate and that makes everything worthwhile!

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

SY: Follow your bliss.

CJ: To our readers out there wondering how they can take one tiny step towards becoming happier and healthier right now, what one piece of advice would you offer to them?

SY: I would say start with breakfast! That’s really the easiest meal to eat healthy. Have a large fruit smoothie or a fruit meal! Also WATER: drink enough water so that you’re peeing clear. And SLEEP! It’s so important to get enough sleep!

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CJ: You’ve experienced your own incredible health transformation. What were some of the difficulties you faced while beginning that process and how did you keep yourself motivated?

SY: It was really difficult for me to deal with social situations when I fist started. I would get a lot of questions that I wasn’t able to answer, and I really felt attacked. I realize now that most people were just curious, so I’d say don’t take things personally and do your research! Become informed about plant-based nutrition, and cover all the basic questions (where do you get your protein, calcium, iron etc).

CJ: As a self-starter you have to keep yourself on track with goals and deadlines. What tools and organizing methods do you use to keep everything running smoothly?

SY: I have a mac, and I use “Stickies” obsessively! I have daily to-do lists, and weekly agendas.

CJ: You have a huge Instagram following! What kinds of things do you do to engage with your community and how has that virtual growth impacted your real life?

SY: I love reaching out to local companies that support the message I do, and introducing them to my followers. I’ve also hosted fruit lucks, and gone to some vegan potlucks! It’s been incredible to find a community here in Vancouver of plant munching people! As for online, I love following and supporting other health foodies, and I’m constantly inspired by others on Instagram!

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CJ: What has been the most unexpected part of college so far?

SY: University has been just incredible. The inspiring atmosphere, incredible friends, and total freedom has made this year my favorite year yet.

CJ: You’re also great about making fitness a priority. How do you keep yourself energized throughout the day and especially throughout a workout?

SY: I workout in the mornings before breakfast. I love waking up, drinking a liter of water, and then getting my sweat sesh on! One of my favorite things to listen to during a workout is the Rich Roll podcast.

CJ: What is your go-to recipe for when you just don’t know what you feel like eating?

SY: DATE COCONUT ROLLS!

CJ: What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?

SY: Your imperfections guide and shape your narrative, love them, embrace them, and accept them.

Steph Yu Qs

Images Courtesy of: Steph Yu

HealthIngredient 101

grapefruit

Whether you scoop it out or slice it up, grapefruit is juicy, sweet, and delicious. A perfect addition to breakfast or a tasty midday snack, grapefruit is undoubtedly good for your health.

1. Grapefruits are full of lycopene, which protects skin from UV damage. Eat lots of grapefruit not only in the summer, but also in the winter.

2. Grapefruit helps detox the liver – it’s a very cleansing fruit.

3. Not only does grapefruit provide a boost in metabolism, but it can also aid in weight loss.

4. To get blood flowing to your skin and nails, eat grapefruit. The flavonoids have anti-inflammatory benefits while also improving blood vessel function.

5. Jam-packed with vitamin C, grapefruit helps strengthen your immune system. Eat up!

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Ingredient 101: A weekly column featuring nutritious ingredients that you can incorporate daily to help you live a healthy life and to #SeizeYourYouth. Tell us which ingredients keep you healthy on Twitter by tagging #CarpeHealth and @CarpeJuvenis.

HealthRecipesWellness

Busy people have a lot of breakfast criteria: it needs to be nutritious and filling, give us lasting energy, and be quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes taste falls by the wayside in our attempts to make something fast and get out the door.

Smoothies generally fit the “filling, nutritious and quick” criteria, but it can be hard to hit the right mark. Sometimes they’re too liquid-y and not filling enough. Other times they just taste like nastiness in a cup. It’s hard to make a good one, and I’m not going to drop $5-10 every morning for someone to make me one.

For these reasons, I’ve never been a smoothie person. Something about this smoothie, though, makes me excited to get up and eat breakfast! You can throw it in a bowl or to-go cup. It is pretty thick, though, so I recommend a spoon.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 strawberries, fresh
1 banana, frozen
1 tbsp. almond butter
½ cup Greek yogurt or light yogurt (any flavor, although strawberry or vanilla work best in my opinion)
¼ cup oats
¼ cup spinach or kale (or both!)

To make it, simply combine all ingredients into a blender and pulse on high until your smoothie reaches a consistency you like. Then, pour it into a cup or a bowl and sprinkle a handful of oats on top. It’s that easy.

Tip: if you want a thinner consistency, try replacing the yogurt with coconut milk.

Tip: cut the strawberries in halves or quarters, and break the banana into quarters before or after freezing. This makes things easier on the blender.

This smoothie makes an awesome immune-booster, too. I drink it whenever I’m sick and it soothes a sore throat and lessens cold symptoms.

What breakfast foods get you through your day?

Image: elana’s pantry

CultureTravel

For the past week, I’ve been recovering from my jet lag from traveling on a couple of connecting international flights. While my body is coping with the time zone changes, my palate has been quite accustomed to zesty flavors I savored back in my motherland: India. I spent six weeks in the city of Bangalore and put my gustation skills to the test. I ventured through the city and found obscure, arcane locations of some of the best food I have ever had. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Perhaps the most basic of all places to start is on the street. No matter what road you decide to take a stroll on, there will be plenty of fruit vendors to satisfy your appetite. There was a guava vendor quite close to my residence in India. I was completely addicted and besotted by his fresh and verdant supply of tropical fruits. Here’s a picture of some of the guava I cut up:

guava

Quite delicious, am I right? These are full of vitamins and goodness. The pink on green color blocking also adds to the fruit being irresistible. Just make sure you wash your fruit, though. Roadside fruit have had flies sit on top of them all day. Hygiene always comes first!

Let’s move on to another type of roadside fruit: coconut. You do not necessary eat the coconut, but you can get fresh coconut water from a street vendor. Your papillae will literally bathe in sweet ambrosia, if you will. The best part about this is that the vendor will cut open the coconut for you and give you a free straw. What better way is there to cool off on a humid day?

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Well, now I’m going to wean off the healthy part of this article and get straight into some chocolaty goodness. Agarwal Bhavan in Mathikere (a district in Bangalore) offers some of the best cake in the world. Just take a look at this one:

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There’s something different about Indian cakes…they do not taste like the cake I have had in America. I cannot pinpoint what that difference is, though. It may be the eggless batter used for the large vegetarian population in India or it could be a sensation from tasting food in my country. Either way, a discrepancy surely exists.

Let me tell you about a few other dishes I relished at the Agarwal Bhavan. They are called chaats, and they are spicy little snacks with vegetables and various toppings. Two of my favorite chaats are pani puri (pani meaning water in Hindi) and masala puri. You basically encounter puffed or hardened fried dough drenched in spicy mixture of ginger, garlic, chili powder, and mango powder.  Frankly, I think these little side trips to heaven were my favorite part of Bangalore!

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Now that we’ve gone over fruits, snacks, and desserts, I think it’s time to get into the main course of the meal. For the best vegetarian food at a reasonable price, head to the Priyadarshini Vegetarian Restaurant in Yeshwantpur (another district in Bangalore).  I recommend to you the naan, a flatbread drizzled with light butter and cilantro, and the butter paneer. Truly, this was a match made in heaven…I mean, just look at the photo!

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With all this food waiting for you in Bangalore, you really cannot go wrong visiting. Your taste buds will be titillated beyond belief. You’ll always have company, as these places tend to be crowded, but that’s only because they’re amazing eateries.

Do you have any favorite foods from places you’ve visited? Remember, tasting different cuisines is also a great way to get to know another culture. You can learn how different people live just by seeing and experiencing what their diet consists of. I encourage you, like I do in every article, to learn about different cultures. Food is just one way to get started!