Nine socially conscious Hostos students took a look in the mirror, then turned it toward the outside world as they explored women’s health issues as part of a “participatory action research project.” This socially conscious experiment, or “PAR,” was then turned into a unique exhibit of photos and text, which will be on display at Hostos Community College from May 5 through May 22.

The project, titled the Women’s Health Action Project, or WHAP!, was a labor of love of two Hostos professors, Karen Winkler and Sarah Sandman who met through the Hostos Women’s and Gender Studies Committee. Winkler, a Health Education professor and nurse with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and Sandman, an artist and designer who helped build the Media Design Programs at Hostos, teamed up to work with the students to help them research the conditions of their own lives in order to change those conditions. The project is being funded by a Community College Collaborative Incentive Research Grant (C3IRG).

At the center of this effort was exploring the health needs and concerns of women at Hostos, as well as the health disparities impacting their communities. The WHAP! student research team, comprised of Media Design and Community Health students,  has been meeting for weekly half-day workshops since January, holding discussion sessions, and taking lots and lots of pictures to document the health of Hostos women using a PAR method called “Photovoice.” The pictures were taken on campus, inside students’ homes and outside in the Bronx. Text spoken and written by students was teamed with the photographs to help drive the powerful messages home.

“We are so impressed by our students’ willingness and determination to share their intimate stories as a way to stimulate conversation and catalyze change,” said Sandman.

The ultimate goal of this research project has been two-fold: helping students better understand their lives as women and the world around them, while raising critical consciousness of the need to redistribute power, address inequities and solve important social problems that impact women’s health.

“As academic researchers in a PAR project, we are learning to de-center ourselves: our job is to help our student-researchers develop skills to conduct research relevant to the needs and concerns of their own communities as they determine the questions, design, and interpretation of research they generate,” Winker said.

The experience was transformative for Hostos students.

“It has been life changing to meet with a group of women and talk about things we never speak about publically,” said Hostos student Joba Minier. “I hope this project continues and my daughter will have a chance to be involved with something like this in the future. A group of powerful women can move mountains.”

The exhibit will be launched with a special invitation-only event on May 5 at Hostos Community College.

WHAT: WHAP! Exhibit (Women’s Health Action Project)
WHERE: Hostos Community College A-Atrium and Bridge. 475 Grand Concourse. Bronx, NY, 10451
WHEN: May 5 to May 22

Karen Wrinkler: or  718-518-4429
Sarah Sandman: ssandman@hostos.cuny or 718-518-6683

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.
Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.