Mustaches For A Cause

Gretchen Schwarzbeck, Troy Jones and Kelsey McDonnell model their Movember mustachios. (Photo by Matt Hawkins)

Matt Hawkins
November 20, 2015

Mustachios became a fashionable Hilltop facial accessory with a message this November, or as it’s also known, Movember. Students in Dr. Theresa Adelman-Mullally’s men’s health class used mustaches to spark conversations about cancer and other health topics.

The Movember service learning project, in its second year, engaged students through partnerships with Bradley’s Get Fit, Stay Fit initiative and student organizations Wags For Mags and Late Night BU.

“Part of the problem is that our society doesn’t understand or want to talk about neglected health needs of men,” Adelman-Mullally said. “I wanted my students to find creative and effective ways to encourage their peers to take preventive measures now to create a healthy future. We hope to start a ripple effect at Bradley that results in a shift in society where men realize their health needs are deeper than just an outward appearance.”

Her class last year discovered the Movember Foundation, which focuses on men’s physical and mental health. Though the project developed too late to gain much traction in 2014, a few in Adelman-Mullally’s class dreamed big this year.

The team of 15 took a lighthearted approach to initiating conversations, relying on photo booths, flyers, social media (@BUMovember, Facebook: Bradley Movember 2015) and ubiquitous oversized cutouts to break the ice. Campaign organizers stood by their event booths with relevant discussion points for peers.

Bradley athletics mascot Kaboom! even donned a for several events, adding extra attention to the cause in the community.

“College is a good time for a campaign like this because we’re passionate people,” said health science major Chris Miles ‘18, of Geneva, Illinois. “Mustaches get people’s attention, which is different than professors telling you about a disease. The mustache is a symbol that makes it easy to connect with people on campus.”

Beyond benefits of educating peers about an important issue, project organizers gained confidence in their abilities to present sometimes-difficult information. That was an added value to students whose jobs one day may require similar interaction with the public.

“We’re able to do things in college and shed light on an issue that doesn’t get attention it deserves,” said health science major Meredith Brewer ‘18, of Mahomet, Illinois. “We’ll benefit from this experience when we have to do that in the real world.”

Organizers also recognized the valuable lessons they learned through two months of collaboration.

“It’s amazing how a group of strangers can accomplish so much,” said health science major Justin Lee ‘16, of Morton Grove, Illinois. “I’m proud of the opportunity to work with them. It’s been an amazing experience that helped us in so many ways.”