Jessica Onnembo, '15 Keeps the Campus Smoke Free

August 01, 2014

Jessica Onnembo

Jessica works on our Tobacco Free Committee.

What are you studying?

I'm a nursing student.

Where are you spending the summer? What are you doing?

This summer I'm spending a lot of time in the city gaining experience as a Nursing Assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Intensive Care. In April, I attended the annual National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) conference in Nashville, TN. In my spare time I've been visiting Cape Cod and enjoying the beautiful summer weather!

How did you get involved with the Tobacco Free Committee?

I first became involved in Tobacco Free Simmons when Dean Judy Beal sent an email asking to establish a committee to promote health awareness and represent the students in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. At our first meeting she asked students if we were interested in helping her to continue an initiative to make Simmons a tobacco free campus that she had brainstormed and started to set in motion two years ago. Immediately, I wanted to be on the frontline and really help make this happen for Simmons. I wanted to put my passion for advocating health awareness as a future nurse to work. For the wellness of the environment where I learn and live as a student and for my peers and fellow members of the Simmons community, I wanted to take the lead in establishing a tobacco free campus.

How will going tobacco free impact the Simmons community?

This initiative will greatly impact the Simmons community in a positive way. On our journey we have encountered and weighed both the positives and negatives of imposing this policy, but we remained strong in our core purpose, which is to establish better health for all in our role as healthcare professionals, students, faculty and staff. This policy will mean change for Simmons, but change that is beneficial and will allow Simmons to grow and be the best environment as an institution of higher education.

Why is this important for Simmons and the world?

There are 1.1 billion tobacco users in the world. This number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion over the next two decades. Tobacco use is currently the cause for about 1 of every 5 deaths in the U.S. It's important for the betterment of our well-being and our community at large to adopt better health practices and to help decrease the fatality rate and harmful health consequences of tobacco use. According to the current 2014 statistics, the CDC states, "There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health. Smoke-free laws can reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer among nonsmokers." This definitely calls for action for the community at large to take the lead in establishing tobacco free environments. Simmons College is the home, workplace, alma mater, and a distinguished institute of higher education that we all hold dear to our hearts and want to see the best for now and looking to the future. Together, we can make a tobacco free Simmons a better Simmons for each other and our community.

What excites you the most about coming back to Simmons in the fall?

I am most looking forward to an exciting final year as a Simmons nurse. I'm enthusiastic to represent my passions for nursing and Simmons as the Student Nurses Association President as well as working further with the committee to continue as an advocate for health and wellness.

What's your summer anthem?

I'd have to say my favorite summer anthem is "Summertime" by Kenny Chesney, because it's definitely "sweet summertime!"