Sunday, July 21, 2024

‘Pure-hearted’ Gengler helps community

PSUC senior nutrition major and chemistry minor Stephanie Gengler decided to pursue nursing because she wanted to help people, and she knew it would be a stable job with a lot of opportunities. She went to Brockport with the hopes of pursing a nursing major.

“At the time, I suffered from a lot of depression and anxiety, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do nursing because it aligned with helping people, which I want in a career, but it didn’t align with my values morally of natural healing,” she said.

She went home for a year and attended a community college, while working as a nurse’s aid at a nursing home in Long Island, but she said it made her unhappy though and took off the next semester of school.

“One day, I had this realization. I started crying as I realized how real death is and that every moment is very precious to spend any time of life doing something that doesn’t make me truly happy, but rather robs me of my energy is not the way anyone should be spending life,” she said.

Gengler started doing research on how to heal depression and anxiety.

She found Youtube channels on how people healed their depression and anxiety through changing their diet. She said most of these people lived natural lifestyles.

Gengler said she learned about the shampoos, makeups and perfumes we use and how they affect our mood and about how different foods affect different moods.

“I came across how much of an effect that the foods you eat can have on your mood and how you feel,” Gengler said. “So then, I decided to do nutrition because it was the closest I could get to holistic healing.”

PSUC Nutrition Professor Angela Durant has taught Gengler in multiple classes, and said Gengler is an excellent student who consistently participates in class. Durant said Gengler is very empathic toward the less fortunate and has a strong desire to help people.

Durant said last semester Gengler talked about a homeless man who had been taking food from the school garden to feed his family. Durant said Gengler brainstormed how to get fresh produce to the homeless rather than getting upset.

“One thing I notice about Stephanie is that she has a very global perspective on how nutrition interacts with the rest of the world,” Durant said. “She takes a big picture approach to the world.”

Gengler has also carried this passion to other PSUC clubs and internships. She is currently the president of the Food Group, which is a PSUC club aimed at raising overall awareness of food, where it comes from and where it goes.

She said she’s been putting energy in making the meetings more educational so that students get an idea of how food affects the planet and our bodies.

Gengler also said she’s currently working with African Studies Professor Marco Turco to get his classes to work on the garden in the field by Sibley Hall. She said she’s also working to donate more of the garden’s produce to the campus.

“I’ve been working on trying to bring food from the garden so students can get organic fresh food on campus,” she said.

Gengler did an internship with Registered Dietitian at PSUC Jeff Vallee, and through that, gave presentations to classes about natural healing. She also gave a speech at the Eating Disorder Awareness Week about conscious eating.

Gengler is involved with the Real Food Challenge, which was an independent study that aimed to obtain statistics on how much “real” food PSUC has.

“It’s a two year process collecting data. Through that we wanted to find out how much of the food is local, sustainable ecologically humane food,” Gengler said. “That’s what classifies as real food.”

Besides nutrition, Gengler has also been involved with projects about self-expression. She did Shine On!, which is a weekend event that allowed PSUC students to teach elementary school girls about self-love, anti-bullying and self-esteem improvement.

Gengler has also published her original poetry in the literary journal, ZPlatt, and she currently has a blog where she publishes all of her writing. She is also part of Phi U Honor Society and Omicron Delta Honor Society.

With all of these clubs and activities on Gengler’s plate, she said she has a reason for being so involved.

“I know what it feels like to have that deep depression and anxiety and how these lifestyles we’re currently given is linked to that suffering, and it’s not needed,” she said. “So I just want to help others.”

Her close friend, PSUC senior expeditionary studies major Tyler Citrin met Gengler last semester through mutual friends.

“We just started talking about random things, and at some point she said something, and I was like, ‘Wow you just described the definition of enlightenment right there.’”

He said she has a great perspective of the world, and she really sees the beauty in everything.

“I’ve never met someone who has a more pure heart than she does,” Citrin said. “She really just wants nothing but to help other people.”

Gengler said she’s not sure where she’s headed with her career but she’s confident she’ll find the right career path.

“I’m no longer worried about having a ‘safe’ job, because I know I don’t need much to live, none of us really do,” she said.

“As long as I’m learning about something I love, giving back to the world around me, and thus following my passion, then I know I will be happy and that’s all I truly need.”

Email Kavita Singh at

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