Students satisfy sweet-tooth for the soul


Tim Chard

Professor Jeaninne Stein and student Sade Brown laugh during the weekly “Dear Sugar” meeting.

Kellie McCown

College can be stressful. For many Los Medanos College students, doing homework and studying for tests is a top priority, and taking time out for personal insight while making new friends can be challenging.

Thankfully, the Honors Center and their weekly discussion group “Dear Sugar” gives students the opportunity to talk about topics not traditionally covered in the classroom.

“Dear Sugar” meets every Wednesday in the Honors Center from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. and brings students together to talk about more personal things that happen in their lives outside of their busy academic schedule.

Using Cheryl Strayed’s collection of advice columns “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar,” as a tool to jump-start the discussion, a student chooses one “Dear Sugar” column as the basis for the discussion for that week, and nothing is off limits.

“This is not your mother’s “Dear Abby,” said Honors Co-Director and “Dear Sugar” facilitator Jeannine Stein.

“We are always pushing for academics. It should be about life.”

And students have flocked to “Dear Sugar” week after week to talk about experiences in their personal lives, and to hear the experiences of their peers. The discussion is completely uncensored, and students are encouraged to share their opinions and feelings.

“It’s different,” said political science major Michael Walker. “It gives me a new perspective. Coming here teaches me things outside of my own world, but still applies to me.”

Andre Thompson shares Walker’s enthusiasm for “Dear Sugar,” He says the group is more than just a weekly discussion about a column, and that it’s a place were students can speak about their feelings and be heard.

“I come here because it’s definitely more personal. It gives me a chance to talk about myself, and see what everyone else is going through,” Thompson said. “I like that people are being heard.”

“It’s a safe environment where people aren’t scared to say something others might consider stupid,” said Teresa Datar enthusiastically. “We are free to express our own opinion, and simultaneously we gain new perspectives on an issue that we might not have gotten.”

LMC is considered to be a commuter college, so important bonds and friendships that develop in dorms at other colleges can be hard to find. “Dear Sugar” provides students this opportunity, in an uncensored forum that will help create important college relationships, while encouraging students to learn more about themselves and their peers.

“There are studies that shows that the more isolated a student is, the less they are going to succeed,” Stein said. “If students can find a sense of community, the more they are going to be successful. I believe that I am teaching the whole person.”