Get to know senior Body Positive intern and Volunteer Corps Coordinator, Tricia O’Donnell!

Year: 3rd
Major: Media Studies and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Hometown: Stevens Point, WI

What do you miss the most about your hometown when you’re at U.Va.?
The thing I miss most about my hometown while I’m at U.Va. is definitely my family! Going to school 1,000 miles away from home is not easy, especially with two perfect dogs at home that I miss dearly. I always say I miss my pups more than my family, because I can call/FaceTime my family, but my dogs have no idea what’s going on and where my voice is coming from!

What drew you to the Women’s Center and your program?
I was drawn to the Women’s Center and the Body Positive program through my work with HOPE, Hoos Open to Preventing Eating Disorders, and a good friend of mine who was an intern here. Having fully recovered from an eating disorder that I suffered from in high school, I am very passionate about spreading body positivity and being part of a movement to fight eating disorders and unhealthy body image. So, being an intern at the Women’s Center was a natural next step for me! I have loved every second of it, and I’m so excited to be back for a second year in the program.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I think something I do differently from most people is use social media in a very transparent, vulnerable way. I am not afraid to speak my mind and share personal snippets of my life through Facebook and Instagram, which is not something you see very often! I believe very strongly in the power of vulnerability and authenticity, and I have a strong conviction to live with those two values at the forefront at all times.

Tell us about the most influential woman in your life.
The most influential woman in my life is, by far, my mother. I think everyone feels an obligation to say that on some level, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart–my mom has been my biggest inspiration and support throughout my entire life. She is truly my best friend, and we have an incredibly strong relationship; I tell her everything! What is really special about her, though, is her amazing capacity to love and care for others. She is always putting others before herself, and it is humbling and inspiring to see how selfless she is. I love her so much–she has made me the person I am today!

If you had access to a time machine where and when would you go?
If I had access to a time machine, I would probably go back to my childhood during Christmastime. I have the fondest memories of Christmas as a little girl, and it is still my favorite time of year! Christmas in Wisconsin is beautiful (albeit freezing cold). My family and I used to have a “picnic” of pizza and soda on the living room floor while watching the snow fall down on Christmas Eve, with Christmas music or movies in the background. My sister and I also had a tradition of sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to raid our stockings to see what Santa put in them; we knew every single place on the wood floor that creaked, and it was so much fun dodging the creaky places, grabbing our stockings, and running back upstairs, giggling like crazy, to raid them by the light of our dolphin night-lights. I’m still surprised we never woke our parents!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is also the one I still need frequent reminders about “Everything in moderation” and “balance is key.” My mom preached that to my siblings and I growing up, and I didn’t completely understand its value until a few years ago. Now, I truly believe in the importance of keeping a balanced life; it’s good for my health and overall wellbeing, and allows me to approach my daily work with energy and optimism. I definitely still overdo it sometimes, but remembering to keep a balance in my life is very important to me!