UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Emma Cihanowyz likes to have her “eggs in multiple baskets but go all in.” A simple look at her resume shows how apparent this is.
Cihanowyz is a junior double majoring in international politics and French and triple minoring in Spanish, women’s studies, and global and international studies. She spends most of her time outside the classroom focused on being the vice president of advocacy for Days for Girls at Penn State, an organization that works to end period poverty — the lack of access to menstrual products and essentials needed for period care — around the world.
Cihanowyz, a Montoursville, Pennsylvania, native, is also a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar.
“Being a Paterno Fellow and taking honors classes is definitely engaging and challenging,” Cihanowyz said. “I find it really interesting to dive deeper into my courses. The honors classes are also often smaller, so they're more discussion based. I would say the classes definitely have enriched my education immensely.
“The College of the Liberal Arts has also granted me a lot of unique opportunities. Working with career coaches within the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network and academic advisers has been amazing. All the resources that the College of the Liberal Arts has are really great and I have found to be great tools as a student.”
Since her first semester of college, Cihanowyz has been an active member of Days for Girls at Penn State, which is a chapter of the larger international nonprofit Days for Girls International. The chapter was recognized as the student organization of the fall 2020 semester at Penn State, an award presented by the Office of Student Activities.
The organization creates reusable menstrual health kits, organizes fundraisers and holds educational awareness programs. The chapter at Penn State is set up in a way that supports those three initiatives.
Cihanowyz oversees the advocacy team within Days for Girls at Penn State.
“What our advocacy team looks like, is just what the name is, really advocating in our local community and making sure that the community's needs are met and that menstrual products are accessible for everyone all across campus and State College,” Cihanowyz said.
Cihanowyz explained that in the first year of the club’s creation, the members focused on making the bags for the menstrual kits and had plans to move to creating liners, but due to the pandemic, the members could no longer sew in person.
“We’re currently back to teaching everyone how to sew the bags, but hopefully, we’ll move to liners soon,” Cihanowyz explained. “We contribute our bags to a larger team who does a complete kit out in Philadelphia, and they’re really great. They do the rest of the kit and disseminate it wherever they need to go.”
The kits last for five years and contain reusable liners, panty shields and personal care products.