All posts by hpiekkola13

MDST 485 Photo Journal

Just in case you missed out, here are some of my favorite pictures from the semester:

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Onsite at #axfi2017

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Don’t worry if you didn’t get to check out my class Instagram, there will be plenty more opportunities to like my photos if you follow my real-life account: @hpeches.

Finish the semester strong mis amigos!


(Hayley Piekkola)

Just white.

The image you see above is probably one of the few pictures of myself that I can say I truly love. Not because my hair looks wildly gorgeous or because I think it’s in anyway flattering. No, I love this picture because it captures the very moment I fell in love with México.


Allow me to explain: My boyfriend’s name is Roberto Carlos Rodriguez. He is a first-generation Hispanic cat from South-Side Chicago and has been ever so graciously sharing his culture with me for the past three years. We love to dance, sing, eat, speak and celebrate all of the colorful traditions of México.

Never in my life have I felt so proud of something like this. To feel like I identify with more than being ‘just white’ has been incredibly liberating.

But I’m afraid. I don’t want to be rejected by a community I’ve grown so passionate for. In truth, I’m not Latina – and I will never understand what it’s like to be Latina. I don’t know about the racism they face or the struggles they’ve endured. So why should I be allowed to celebrate the ‘good’ parts of a culture that have been reluctant to withstand the white man’s world?

I need you to know that I’m not ignorant, but I am tired of hearing “white people ruin everything”; I don’t want to be lumped into that idea anymore. I want to be the change. I want race and color to lose their subjectivity and I want to be accepted just as anybody else does.

One of my favorite quotes by Morgan Freeman was captured in an interview on 60 Minutes:

Interviewer: How are we going to get rid of racism …?

Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

Some people fear a future like this, but I think it’s just something we should ALL finally come to embrace.


(Hayley Piekkola)

Millennials are Drowning in More Debt .

I’m like you. I have those distant friends from high school that are always clogging up my Instagram feed. In fact, if one of my peers isn’t boasting about marriage, having a baby, or getting a new puppy, they are almost certainly posting about a recent vacation.

Although naturally at first I was envious, I’ve since become increasingly suspicious. It seemed as though some people were embarking on countless adventures – first in Mexico, then Bali, and now Prague? What gives?

How are these millennials affording so many vacations while they’re in school? Especially in the midst of a $1.3 Trillion student debt crisis. And then it hit me: FOMO.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real issue our generation has been plagued by. So much so, that a recent poll of college students through LendEDU found that “nearly a third (30.60%) stated that they’re using student loan money to help pay for their spring break trip”. Apparently, the same study found that 49.80% of college students (incorrectly) believed the government would forgive their federal student loan balance later in life.

Now, I would be lying if I told you I didn’t consider it myself, but as I became more financially-literate, I realized it was a big mistake. Can you imagine the hundreds of dollars in interest on top of the cost of the vacation? What will they do? And why aren’t we talking about it as if it’s a real problem?

Surely, after all our hard work in school, we deserve a break. But at what cost? If you can’t afford a luxury vacation without using student loans, then maybe you’re not ready to take one. I mean, is drowning in student debt worth that perfect selfie on the beach? Figure it out friends.


(Hayley Piekkola)


Speaking of Vaccines…

I can’t be the only one in our class that experiences severe anxiety when it comes to needles. Or perhaps I am. Regardless, we all know somebody with Trypanophobia. Whether that’s you, your sibling, a friend or even your child; vaccinations are perhaps the most universal fear.

Unfortunately, when it comes to shots, there is more to fear than just a steely poke to the arm – or shall I say, lack of one? For the first time in recent history, the medical industry is seeing a significant rise in a disease that was said to be resolved: Measles. This outbreak has reached a total of 58 cases in Minnesota alone. What’s even more striking is the fact that all but 3 of the cases involve people who were not vaccinated.

Luckily, I received all of my vaccinations and neither I nor my parents ever had to worry about me catching serious illnesses at school. I believe that there are FAR too many terrible things that can happen to your child in this world, why not have some peace of mind and prevent the few that you can?

I know in my heart that this will be an important part of my job as a future mother, but what about you? How do you know you’re making the right decisions for you or your family?

I encourage everyone to be careful when it comes to researching this topic. As we have seen, it is easy to be triggered by misleading information or my favorite, “alternative facts”. That’s why I started by talking to my doctor. As you may have read in my previous post about the HPV Vaccination dilemma, talking to your doctor is more than just taking orders. It’s about understanding a different perspective than your own – an educated one at that! If you’re not having meaningful conversations, and your visits seem more like a systematic ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’, then it’s time to find a new doctor.

Here are a few questions to help you get the conversation started.

***Also, for those of you who are interested: There is a nifty new product on the market that can apparently “alleviate the pain and anxiety of needle injections”. It’s called the ShotBlocker, and if it’s any coincidence, I think I might try it!


(Hayley Piekkola)


To be? or Not to be…Vaccinated for HPV?


I stumbled upon this article a few nights ago, as I was mentally preparing myself for an annual physical on Monday. Bad decision. This is exactly the kind of research you should not be doing when you are concerned with your health (think WebMD gone wrong).

Anyways, the title intrigued me because I presumed it would give me the answer to my question: “Should you Get the HPV Vaccine?”. After all, I had already received one of the three vaccinations earlier; why not just complete the set? I feel like this is straightforward for a lot of women: the doctor tells you what to do and you do it. But I’m not like ‘a lot of other women’; in fact, I’m very difficult when it comes to taking orders that involve my health and well-being. Now I’m not the type of person to refuse necessary vaccinations, but it was the idea that these shots were not necessary but recommended that got me searching for answers.

The article begins with the scare-tactics.

“Nearly 100 percent of cervical cancers are caused by high-risk HPV… If left untreated, cervical cancer may require chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a full hysterectomy, and may even result in infertility or death.”

Having ‘Nearly 100 percent’ and ‘Cancer’ in the same sentence definitely caught my attention; I’ll give them that. The article then goes on with sections about who should get the shots, when, and how much it could cost. So it’s fair to say that despite my obscene phobia for needles, I was prepared to finish my vaccinations.

However, upon actually having my physical exam and speaking to a (I don’t say this often) wonderful OBGYN, I changed my mind once again. You see, after actually talking to a REAL doctor about the specifics of my body, I found out I didn’t really need the shots. According to her, as long as I have tested negative for HPV thus far into my relationship with my current sexual partner, AND I plan to make him my only partner (fingers-crossed), I don’t have to worry about it.

You see, this is a perfect example of how not to make decisions about your health based on the insight of a writer who turned out to have no medical-background whatsoever. I know it can be a pain in the ass to get in and out of the doctor’s office, but I’m slowly learning that sometimes it’s worth it.


(Hayley Piekkola)


Sugar High(s) + Lows

Initially, when the class was given the choice between food, culture, and gender topics for our projects, I was drawn to food. Not for the obvious reasons (although I am a self-proclaimed foodie), but because I was recently inspired by a documentary called ‘That Sugar Film”.

This is how it always starts, right? You watch a documentary that turns your life upside-down, and next thing you know, you’re buying into a whole new lifestyle? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me, go-figure.

“That Sugar Film” is about one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. As it turns out, humans were never meant to consume this sticky substance in any form, including ‘healthy food’. Now I don’t want to kill the film, but I promise it will forever change the way you think about everything from salad dressing to juicing an apple.

Bonus! This film is not only wickedly entertaining, but it is also free to view for Amazon Prime subscribers.

You do realize that as a student you’re entitled to a free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime, right? I guess that means you’ll be spending Memorial Day weekend educating yourself on the dangers of sugar and rolling in all the free two-day shipping you can afford.

You’re welcome.

#blogpost2 #connectedwriting

Ideas for Scheduling Posts

As a graphic designer, I am a sucker for visuals – that much should be obvious. So when important information can be communicated via clean and concise images, I feel like my brain has made an epiphany. ‘Finally! Things make sense!’

Perhaps that’s why I have an appendage for infographics. Especially ones that build vertically so that I don’t have to click on anything to get the information I need. (Wait, am I admitting to being lazy?). Whatever the case may be, I am almost certain that 90% of the population would agree. Why else do agencies spend the big bucks on creative services? BECAUSE IT’S COMPELLING! But you don’t have to take my word for it; I’ve recently stumbled upon this (see below) infographic from reputable marketing blogger, Mariah Halthoff.

It outlines the peak times to make social media posts for platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest in a neatly organized manner. I thought it could be helpful for my peers who are realizing we need to set up social media accounts for our projects by Thursday (5/18).


Although I am aware that this is not concrete information, it is a great jumping point for determining social media strategies. Does anyone else have significant experience with scheduling posts?