This blog was written by mentee, Shea Formanes who recently created a podcast trailer with her mentor, Tracy Miller during our Persuasive Writing Workshop. Shea and Tracy decided to use their podcast trailer as a way to highlight unconventional stories and bring awareness to Austim Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a topic very close to Shea and her family. Shea is a first-year Girls Write Now mentee and currently a senior at Bayside High School.
Our wobbly wooden table, situated in a corner of Tous Les Jours on Main Street in Flushing, Queens, supports a coffee cup, a crumbling croissant, and two laptops. Pouring over our notes and deep in conversation, my mentor, Tracy Miller, and I excitedly discuss our next steps as science writers.
It’s a common topic of conversation for us. Tracy, a health and wellness journalist, writes for NYU Langone Health, collaborating with doctors and researchers to communicate information about health conditions and scientific research. Initially pursuing journalism in order to write about entertainment and culture, she wrote about health and wellness by chance, and hasn’t stopped since.
“I always work with super-smart people that are passionate about what they do,” Tracy once told me over lemonade. “And there’s always something new to know in science.”
It’s true. And from personal experience, both of us know the impact that scientific breakthroughs can make. At Girls Write Now’s November workshop for the Digital Media and Mentoring Program (DMP), Tracy and I had to make a podcast teaser. While discussing how podcasts allow unconventional stories to be told, I found myself talking about my sister and father, both of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Telling Tracy about how little is known about the developmental disorder (and how my sister’s affectionate disposition baffles doctors), I noted how little people know about ASD. I told her how important it was to talk about my experience on my blog, where the story could reach someone and possibly help them.
Tracy agreed, not only taking the time to ask questions about my personal experience with ASD, but also relating my experience to her own. She talked about the people she met while she wrote for the Daily News, where she wrote about how they lived their lives through little-known diseases, mental health issues, disorders, etc., and how they made the best of it. This ended up in our final podcast teaser, titled, Speaking Clearly and Thinking Differently. Using GarageBand (and some M83), I talked about about how my sister’s ASD forced me to reevaluate our rocky relationship and what it meant to be a protector, while Tracy told the story of Richard, a man with sickle cell disease, whose 70th birthday party was thrown by his doctors. It was only the beginning of our research, and of our stories.
Knowing all this, Tracy and I highlighted the importance of science writing for anyone who needs healthcare. Everyone needs to be healthy, and they need to know all the facts. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to be misinformed, especially with gender bias in clinical research, a lack of government funding for some important research projects, and potentially prejudiced or discriminatory language in certain healthcare communications (ex. Fertility centers that assume male-female couples).
No matter what the subject may be, there will always be a need for science writing. It will educate people about their minds and bodies, tell untold stories, and inform people that, contrary to what they may think, they aren’t alone.