Professor Spotlight: Annie Belcourt


Dr. Annie Belcourt, professor in the Public and Community Health Science department and chair of Native American Studies, returns to Confluence to round out our coverage of the M-HOPES grant: Mental Health Opportunities for Professional Empowerment in STEM. Annie hits home the importance of trauma-informed approaches, reframing thoughts, and cultural context. And she brings with her a great sense of humor.

Story Transcript

Annie Belcourt [from M-HOPES presentation]: I talked a little bit before about we have a difference between accommodation and assimilation in our brain. And what that is, is like if we see something different, like if you saw a purple mongoose jump into the room all of a sudden, you would think in your brain automatically, where does this fit in terms of my categorization? It looks like a weasel, but it's purple.

So like, you know, you might have to like accommodate for that and like create a new category that's for purple mongoose, kind of thing. Um, as opposed to assimilating it and making it similar to weasels in the brain. You know, so we have this real powerful way of thinking about our experiences and then that impacts our emotions, right? Um, so sticking with the mongoose analogy, we might have feelings about that mongoose, right?

So, so this is really like when we think about cognitive behavioral therapy, there's choice points within this that we can train our brain to think about and respond differently. So if we have those automatic thoughts that kind of pop up um, that we can, um, you know, find ways to not necessarily fight that emotion or thought, but reframing those things can really have a powerful impact on each of those domains.

Ashby Kinch: You just heard the voice of Dr. Annie Belcourt, professor of Community and Public Health and chair of Native American Studies, talking about the importance of 'reframing' as a tool for mentorship. The snippet is part of a training Annie developed with her colleagues Holly Schleicher—whom we spoke with in Episode 90—and Bryan Cochran, featured in Episode 91.  

I’m Ashby Kinch, Dean of the Graduate School, and institutional PI on the National Science Foundation collaborative grant that funded their work: Mental Health Opportunities for Professional Empowerment in STEM. That’s a mouthful—so we call it M-HOPES, which has funded work in support of graduate student mental health and well-being.  

Dr. Belcourt was raised on the Blackfeet Reservation as an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Mandan, Hidatsa, Blackfeet, and Chippewa descent. Dr. Belcourt’s research and clinical priorities include mental health disparities, post-traumatic stress reactions, risk, resiliency, and psychiatric disorder. You can learn more about Annie’s journey in Confluence Episode 29, linked in the show notes.  

In the episode that follows, you’ll hear our conversation about the importance of developing a trauma-informed approach to mentorship and the core role culture plays in building resilience. Annie is a big believer in the power of humor to release tension and create connection. Annie loves to laugh.

We hope listeners will want to learn more and explore the resources of the M-HOPES grant through a link in the show notes. There, you’ll find our online course, developed by the expert trainers in this series. We encourage faculty across UM and in our network to register for and complete this training.  

We hope this episode inspires you to play a positive role in building a community of care, wherever you are on your journey. 

Welcome to Confluence, where the river is always with us.  

 Ashby Kinch: So Annie, thank you for joining me to talk about this grant work that we've doing. You know, what led you to kind of wanna be involved in the grant?

Annie Belcourt: So well thank you for having this opportunity to talk about the project and the trainings. I mean, it does actually go to the title of the grant. Part of my dissertation was on hope and sort of radical hope and how part of that is pertaining to my experience as a Native scholar and as a, somebody trained as a clinical psychologist. And so a lot of the work that we do with our Native students as well as with you know, clients we may see in the psychotherapy is, is about how to recreate meaning and hope for our clients to change their lives in different ways.

And so a lot of that has to do with, you know, the experience of suffering and how we think about suffering as clinicians and as well as educators and, and how that work can inform the work that we do in ways that allows people to hopefully transform experiences of struggle and challenge they have into you know, improving their lives in ways that are enriching and meaningful. And you know, not dictated by the clinician or educator but instead on their own terms. And how that they can really access ways that are within themselves and strengths within themselves to be able to endure and in many ways live with some of the things that we've all experienced during the pandemic, which has been suffering. And suffering can be tied to losses we may have experienced within our families, our relationships, our, you know, our goals as a student or as a professional. And things that have changed over the last few years.

One of the things that as a Native person I've always experienced, and in some ways been fortunate to experience, is that, you know, for many Native people, you know, we have a lot more struggles than others. We have health disparities that are quite, you know, severe and, you know, during the pandemic we had more of our people who are becoming ill and dying because of that. And that's impacted our students' health.

And, and so one of the things I've had to really intentionally incorporate into my teaching is, is trauma-informed educational strategies. So part of that, what that means is sort of teaching people about the ways that trauma can impact our daily functioning, and oftentimes in ways that we aren't consciously aware of.

Ashby Kinch: Yeah. You wouldn't necessarily be able to be aware of the direct link between the behavior or the, the experience and the original trauma that might be driving it.

Annie Belcourt: Mm-hmm. And a lot of that is because of our thoughts And our thoughts kind of operate at a subconscious level. You know, we go through a day in autopilot like: ‘oh, I gotta drive here, drive there, do this, do that, go to this building.’ What we don't always experience an acknowledgement of is the way that we talk to ourselves in those different spaces. And so if, if we're depressed, we're more likely to have negative thoughts and we're negatively kind of biased in, in different ways. When we're anxious, we might have more thoughts worrying about the future, that sort of thing.

A lot of our goal in psychotherapy is to help people be more mindfully aware in the moment. And that allows us to monitor in a way our ability to regulate our emotions. And it's nothing super fancy, in some ways. It's just like recognizing: ‘Okay. I'm, I'm feeling down. And so I'm, I'm noticing these thoughts that are more negative and it's sort of leading into a more kind of negative space for me emotionally.’ So it's all about that triad between the way our thoughts influence our behaviors and our actions and therefore our emotions. So those kinds of things can really interplay.

Ashby Kinch: And so where, yeah, looking for the places where you can intervene if they are negative patterns that are self-reinforcing. What are the things that they can intervene to to, to shift that? And so on a, on a, on a personal level, of course that's a hugely valuable skill. You're saying it's not fancy. Yeah. But it's hard. And for, so for mentors that are working with graduate students, how are you bridging them to that model in giving them skills to kind of--both for themselves, right? In other words, they have to ask some questions of themselves in order to be good at asking the similar questions of their students. And then how do you give 'em the confidence to kind of engage with their students on the mental health and wellbeing aspect of, of their educational journey?

Annie Belcourt: Yeah. Part of it is just like providing some basic foundations in what is--you know, how do we function as people? And a foundational curiosity as to how, how the things that we do as individuals influences our interactions with others and our mood and our emotional sort of status from minute to minute. So providing some education in that, but then also like ways that you can intervene. That maybe things like reframing negative thoughts to be more positive in--not a toxic positivity kind of way--but in, in a, in a more compassionate towards the self kind of way. How do we think about things that reframes like catastrophic thinking to be more of a nuanced, gray example of, of how we think about cause and effect?

So parts of that is like for mentors, is to also have a vibrant life where they're doing self-care in a very real way. If that's for them, engaging with nature, if that's doing exercising, if that's doing artwork or creativity or generosity, kindness. Those sorts of things that are, you know, will bring you into a better space, emotionally. And those skills are learnable. And that's very hopeful as we think about our work with our, you know, students and people that we're trying to mentor is to try to help them have access to the full range of human emotions, as opposed to being stuck in like a very anxious place or a very sad, depressed place.

One of the things we, we know with trauma exposure and we think about post-traumatic recovery. And, you know, most people who have experienced trauma don't develop a disorder, right? But the ones that do, you know, we, we know that there are ways that they can come out of that. And some of that is, is relying on some of the things that we know help people, you know, in normal times. And, you know, and, and some of those are just, you know, choice and meaning making and, you know, things that bring us joy and, and happiness and--

Ashby Kinch: But maybe in the context of trauma, it's a little bit harder to get to those places. So it takes more practice or more repetition, more conscious awareness.

Annie Belcourt: Right. And the conscious awareness piece is like, is important because, you know, when we have experienced stress, we oftentimes are put into a fight, flight or freeze kind of space, or people pleasing, you know, can be part of that. And so, you know, the conscious piece is, is to kind of recognize and notice when those things are happening so that you can kind of step back and take some, you know, deliberate actions to look at again, the full range of emotion. You know, this came up yesterday as we're doing the training is as somebody had had mentioned, “Well, what if I can't understand or label the emotion I'm experiencing?” Which is a symptom of trauma. It’s called alexithymia and it's sort of—

Ashby Kinch: Whoa, whoa, slow down. So

Annie Belcourt: I know, I know! [laughs]

Ashby Kinch: Alexi—

Annie Belcourt: Alexithymia. 

Ashby Kinch: Okay, alexithymia. “A-lexa.” Right, so wordless or something like that. And emotion.

Annie Belcourt: Yes. Being able to label your emotions and, and understand those emotions and--

Ashby Kinch: But your model, I love it cuz it, it tells you. That's exactly where you can't label it quickly. That's where you need to dig in.

Annie Belcourt: And it's a skill. Like, like riding a bike, right? Is like sort of like learning how we respond in a kind of reactive or almost a reflexive way to, you know, our worlds, right? And if we're more likely to be, you know, going down a pathway of like ‘this is my fault and I feel bad about this and I feel guilt and I feel anger,’ and those kinds of things. When you’re bringing conscious awareness into that piece, you're more likely to be able to like, come out of that. And to reframe those things in ways that really have a significant impact on our emotional status and like how we, how we interact with the world.

And so some of our psychotherapies that are based on these things are, are kind of about helping to kind of provide access and build access for people and with people really to the wide range of human emotions. Which, you know, sounds simple and easy.

Ashby Kinch: Again, again, sounds simple, but it's, it's a practice. It's something you have to build. I like that you referred to a, a faculty member bringing up their own, you know, doubts about putting a name on an emotion, because I think that's a key part of this work that y'all are doing is cultivating introspection among these mentors and helping them work through kind of their own ways of approaching those issues. What other kinds of things like that have you noticed in the workshops faculty are bringing to the table? What problems are they bringing to your attention and how are you and Bryan and, and Holly kind of integrating that into the workshop?

Annie Belcourt: Yeah, definitely. So one of the things: I love working with the three of them and we I think compliment each other in different ways because, you know, we're all psychologists, of course, but like you know, we have different approaches. We, we all have foundational skills and cognitive behavioral approaches and interventions. But you know, I focus a lot more on cross-cultural work and you know, trauma being a, you know, big area focus for, for myself and then of course Indigenous and cultural healing.

Ashby Kinch: And, well, and let's talk about that just for a little bit for a second, cuz I think this is important for listeners to kind of think about that we put this team together, but you're actually in a community health and public health program. And you think about population-level research as well. Bryan is, he's a clinician and he's training PhD students and then Holly is kind of in this integrative behavioral health space. She's a clinician, herself, but is doing research on the IBH model. And so I'm just kind of parsing out that complementarity of the team, you know, each bring similar, similar training, but different facets of what interests you in terms of, you know, fleshing out a full model of, of mentorship.

Annie Belcourt: I definitely, I think probably think more in a community level because of my background in public health as well as being a Native person. And so part of what I think about is how do we, as communities, lift up ways of healing? And part of that is through my own work, with my own tribal community. And I, I grew up on the Blackfeet reservation. So a lot of my experiences reflect that experience and thinking about the healing that happens within our communities in a very normative way. I mean, this is just part of the fabric of who we are is, is looking at our culture, our language identity our ceremonial practices as being a fundamental aspect of who we are as people. And so those things all really influence my work. And as I think about trauma thinking about systematic kind of approaches to helping people heal from trauma which is, you know, building trauma-informed spaces in many ways.

And so, for me, that that is something that I really try to rely upon in the work that I do. And, and narrative and storytelling is part of that. And that's really hugely reflects my culture. And so having grown up in a, a community where, you know, we, we do active listening. We, we think about talking to our elders, learning from our elders, you know, and, and incorporating the meaning in the stories that are shared with us and honoring that meaning for, for Native people is something that we grew up learning.

And then, but only now I'm starting to kind of really, you know, recognize, oh, that's why this elder shared that story with me. Because that in, in a sense is telling me how to you know, think about living together.

Like, so one, one example is you know, we have star stories. And we have star stories in our our building. We have a planetarium that is based around this. And we have two stories that one of our, our Blackfeet knowledge holders, Leo Bird Sr. had, had shared. And, and I incorporate that into my courses. Because it talks about community, and community as being a level of intervention that we can help to invest in healing.

So one of the stories is about the Pleiades, or the Bunch Stars, and, and the idea of the story is about how, you know, it's important to treat each other in respectful ways. And some of the morals of the story really reveal themselves at different times in your life.

But all of those things for me as a clinician really helped me to think about, okay, something as contemporary as bullying. You know, how do we think about like intervening within that? What is lateral violence? How do we understand, you know, these different kind of ways of social leveling in psychology?

Annie Belcourt: And so as we work, you know, with a lot of communities, we think about community-level interventions in those ways. And, and for me, like story can be such a powerful part of that. So it is like nice that the three of us have these different complimentary, you know?

And a lot of that is humor too. We talked yesterday, just thinking about some tricks and tips, if you will, about how to moderate our emotional experiences and--

Ashby Kinch: Yeah. And this is key to your work is deescalation. And thinking about what are the sort of tools and skills in a moment that you can, that you can, again, bearing in mind, that you know that the training is, does not have as an end goal to make these STEM professors counselors, right? But to give them skills and techniques that in the moment when they're faced with a student who's maybe in crisis, maybe experiencing an acute moment, what are the ways you can deescalate? So share a little bit about the sort of philosophy and theory around that.

Annie Belcourt: Yeah, so a lot of our colleagues who've done work with like well, all kinds of clinical populations, but you know, folks who have struggled with serious mental illness and, and thinking about ways to deescalate those situations. And a lot of it is like, you know, I think as we go about our daily lives, if you have a conflict happen, a lot of times, you know, we can experience some fight or flight response, right? Where we either wanna like come back at people or we want to flee the situation. And with deescalation techniques, it's, it's about a couple things.

Well, one is just treating people with the basic humanity and respect. But, you know, that's a lot of the fundamental things. It's just like, you know, and, and mirroring people where they're at. In the case of--as an example-- people who have maybe delusional thoughts, you know, not directly coming in and saying “That thought's wrong, and this is why.” And instead when you face that with compassion and you might redirect, right? That's the boundary piece of things. And you might be intentionally trying to you know, help, help the person in that moment feel safety and, and feel that they can kind of come back to baseline, you know, for, for themselves and things.

But a lot of those techniques are simple things like, you know, having our, our workspaces, you know, be informed in this way. Like, you know, so that things are welcoming that, you know, there's a peaceful kind of situation. But then as we're talking to people, you know just pacing how we interact with them, you know.Iif they don't, are, aren't using a lot of eye contact, not, not, you know, not staring, you know, that kind of thing.

Ashby Kinch: Over-emphasizing it.

Annie Belcourt: Yeah. So trying to like physically mirror, like, our reflective listening in ways that align with their presentation. And, and a lot of it is people want to be heard and they wanna feel, you know, what they say has value and importance. And and, and noticing those things about people and the humanity that's kind of underlying what they're asking for is, is a lot of times, you know, some of what's helpful.

The boundary piece is like super important, right? So if people do need help, you know, getting them to the people who can help them, right? And so being very clear about what our boundaries are as an educator, right?

Ashby Kinch: Yeah. And, and Bryan's workshop kind of focuses on consistency and the ways in which the norms and standards of communication are set as a default in the, the direction of positive communication, but then consistent. And so then boundary-making is kind of part of that, you know, recognizing in a, in a mentor relationship, there's some things that, you know both a, a mentee and a mentor wanna be aware about you know, where, where crossing a boundary might make one or the other person uncomfortable.

So that all has to be brought up to the surface. It has to be made clear, right? And transparent in, in, in the mentor relationship. It can't be taken for granted, right? And we can't assume that our students come with a well-developed idea of what that's gonna be like. We need to be a little bit more transparent about it.

Annie Belcourt: Mmhmm. And I think that's part of it is like, you know, when thinking about like our colleagues in developmental psychology, right? Like a lot of, a lot of the work that we're doing is helping, you know, people build their lives and their identity as people. And so, you know, trying to kind of help them have that journey for, you know, and supporting them in ways that are, you know, not conflicting with that or, you know, just a lot of reflective listening is, is a lot of what helps people kind of to feel the sense of validation that sometimes they may be seeking, you know? And, and those are some skills that we can kind of like, you know, think about learning and, and be curious around. A lot of it is that curiosity.

Ashby Kinch: Yeah, it is. I mean, a, a deep well of, of thinking that, that I've encountered in your work is, is the importance of how the narrative storytelling component of whether it be at the individual level, I mean, in a sense that's what a clinical relationship is. It's a story being told between two people where you're trying to kind of help that person find a different version of the story than the one they're living in. Right? But all the way up to this community level that you've talked about so eloquently about how a community binds itself together through stories. And these stories have this kind of recursive depth to it.

Annie Belcourt: Yeah, and I think that's, and for, for many of us, right, we're trained to not feel that our story matters. And that's for like a lot of our you know, Indigenous people that, you know, women you know, people who are marginalized in different ways. But having that compassion is, is something that is like key to like thinking of our lives differently in a way that we, we can kind of reclaim some of that. And, you know, that that's something that I think that we, you know, we think about social justice and public health and social determinants, you know, and something I teach in my classes about is, is how we, as communities can, you know, adopt an, a sense of curiosity towards different lived experiences. Like, we think about you know, the, these different narratives that we all walk around with and, and inter interact with people. But how, how do we meet each other in this third conversation that is like mindful of. Both, right? It's conducive to like achieving goals. You know, and that it's not getting us locked into a particular position, which is--

Ashby Kinch: And often that's gonna be stressing the, the the thing that we share rather than the thing that divides us. Refocusing the attention on the thing that we share. The shared goal. Like, I like that phrase “third way.” That's really good.

Annie Belcourt: I mean on any campus, any given place, you know I think people tend to kind of lose that compassion or like, “well it's x,” you know, “this, this the bad guy and I'm the good guy.” And so we, we don't wanna feed into any of that because, you know, we're all here to try to like, you know, find ways to be curious about the world through education. Right? That's one of our goals.

And so an example yesterday that came up was we were talking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You know, and it was really a great learning moment. Bryan was talking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and how, you know, the kind of foundation is, do we have the basic needs met and then eventually hierarchically we can work towards self-actualization, whatever that might look like, and, you know, be these like wonderful, you know, fully-functioning people, right?

But the thing that was left out of that, and that we had a conversation yesterday, which was really fun, I thought was that Maslow had created this theory based on his work with the Blackfeet and, and he had worked in Canada and, and

Ashby Kinch: I did not know that. So the Kootenai in Canada?

Annie Belcourt: No. The Blackfeet. But so, so he had worked with tribal communities—[there’s] photos of Maslow, Abraham Maslow working with our tribal communities. And the issue there, though, is that he had basically inverted what had been taught to him. So instead of looking at kind of a individualistic goal of becoming self-actualized, what they were telling you.

Ashby Kinch: It's a community goal.

Annie Belcourt: It's a community goal, but at the center of it is like having our own like health and our own spiritual health and how we kind of create meaning and generosity and kindness. And, and as you do that, then you, then you kind of will have naturally have access to things like a place to live and things to eat. And all these different things.

Ashby Kinch: Wow. That's amazing. I've never heard that story. That's quite incredible.

Annie Belcourt: It is, it is. And a lot of our, our researchers in Canada really helped to develop some of that awareness of the, you know, the origination of those theories. And so, you know, in that space, that's a really helpful moment for us to have compassion about: we can see two things at the same time, there's a dialectic, right? And two things can be almost mutually exclusive, but also true. Right? Yeah. And, and so as we think about that, as we work with our mentees and our students and colleagues, you know, having that compassion and that respect as we think about mentorship and we think about different goals, communities that maybe, you know, emphasize community at the community level. And so you know, you know, I've been really fortunate to go to a number of our ceremonies this last year, and the cool thing is, is that for, especially for the Blackfeet, we, a lot of it is about love, you know, and it's not even really complicated, you know? At the, at the heart of it, it's sort of how do we love each other better as communities? And how do we all of the relations that that we have? And that includes like animals, that includes our, you know, water, our elements and different things of that nature. And it's just a different way to live in a way cuz you're just a lot more mindful. But it aligns really well with our, you know, psychotherapy principles. Which is like, how do we treat people with compassion and respect? How do we treat ourselves with compassion and respect? And how does that carve down to change things fundamentally for people to live in healthier ways? In ways that are more aligned with their values as people. I think we're all searching for these things that bring our lives meaning and contentment and, and, you know, joy occasionally. And those things are gonna look differently for every person. But as, as we mentor people, as we help people provide access and opportunities to, to ways that do bring them meaning and joy, you know, if that's, researching their genealogy, if that's learning about their family history, if that's learning about the science of all of these things and how we think about precision medicine and how we can help people, you know, better survive cancer and things like that. Those are people's passions and like how we can activate their lives in ways that align with that and have them, you know, equipped with the skills and the ability to reach those things. That's, that's our goal.

Ashby Kinch: That's the core of education. Yeah. One particular element, literally in every conversation that we've had that's been meaningful has been coming back to some notion that love and community, at core, are, are practiced in a deep and meaningful way in Native communities. And when they're not practiced in mainstream culture, it it, it's something that we need to wake back up to. You access the universal, you access that sense of love, or identity or meaning making through the particular. You access it through the, the place that you're most comfortable and you can dig in and, and find meaning in that story. But, but eventually you're trying to reach this more universal space, which is, which is shared between and among people.

Annie Belcourt: Right. But the more you learn about these kinds of concepts of healing and constructs the more you learn, we have so much in common. And so, you know, I think of like heroes of mine with the, with regard to this. And one elder who I've really been fortunate to work with is Mike Bruised Head, who is, he finished--I don't know if I told you about this. He finished his PhD at the University of Lethbridge and defended the entire dissertation in Blackfeet.

Ashby Kinch: In Blackfeet. You did tell me about that. That's incredible.

Annie Belcourt: But he has just a brilliant way of thinking about place-based education. He brings people to places that are part of our creation story as Blackfeet. Right? And he has people tell the story of that. One of the things he did this summer, too, was he flew to the top of one of the mountains in Waterton and renamed the peak it's Blackfeet name.

Ashby Kinch: Oh, that's great.

Annie Belcourt: And, and did a pipe ceremony on top of the mountain. And but the reason he did that is because he wanted people to have access to some of these things that bring us together as community members to the love and the compassion and the support and the wisdom that's within our language and culture and stories. That's not different from other communities, you know? And we think about these universals that connect us and, and, and psychotherapy, that's a lot of what we're trying to do. At an individual or a community level is we're trying to have people, you know, think about these things that connect us and in--

Ashby Kinch: Well, as we wrap up, I wanna talk a little bit here about your experience within the grant, itself. You're in the second year of the delivery of the workshop. What are kind of lessons learned for the three of you in terms of adjusting your materials? What insights have you come across? And what's kind of been different in the cohorts and the kinds of questions that they've been asking?

Annie Belcourt: Yeah, so definitely it's a great question. So last year, like we had, had a lot more struggles with like what, what, what I'd kind of term like acute stress response. So, so students who were really struggling with coming back to campus, come back to in-person learning with having more acute mental health crisis kind of presentation for symptoms and things. And so--

Ashby Kinch: And faculty were, were, were concerned, right? They, they didn't have the tools and, and toolkit to kind of deal with that acute crisis.

Annie Belcourt: And to be fair, our faculty were also in a similar place. Cuz we've had like a lot of like collective trauma experienced. And having to pivot to online and all the things that we've, we've had to do as a faculty. Right? And so we had to do a lot more work than I think maybe we anticipated on like how to kind of intervene in crisis situations, how to help people who have experienced suicidal symptoms, as an example.

Now this year we've had more of the prolonged exposure experience where people have had just like a, you know the slow burn, if you will, of following the pandemic. And people having a lot more anxiety and depression and burnout, sort of, you know, compassion fatigue and and feeling you know, disengaged and, and you know, just those sorts of, kind of like longer-term outcomes, mental-health wise.

And how to intervene in those situations in ways that are compassionate and that, that, so it's, it's been clinically, I think, like a different presentation of, of the community and I think in a community-level oftentimes. But it's, it's a lot more of, of that. But also, you know, I think our, our communities are, and our faculty and our mentors are in a you know, a place where they're really curious about their own mental health and like investing in that and sharing that with, and so just a lot of generosity both years really, you know. But thinking about you know, just a lot more mindfulness of like, how, how we can apply some of the skills from psychotherapy worlds. You know, and then again, we're not trying to make people counselors, but just sharing some of that information with our students and how, how we can you know, better manage some of the stressors that we all are exposed to on a daily basis.

And so that's, it's a little bit of the differences, but it's a, it's a got me thinking personally about ways to best share some of this information and, and to how, how we can you know just provide some more expertise that's sort of well-rounded in different ways around, around these experiences.

And yeah, like I was saying, I kind of interject with my little side stories sometimes. So it's nice to have Bryan and Holly cuz they're very much more structured and, you know, X, Y, Z and I--

Ashby Kinch: And you're bring, you're bringing some comic relief

Annie Belcourt: And some little bit of, a little non-linear kind of like, you know yeah. And, and just trying to have some fun with some of it too. Cause we talked a little bit about yesterday about introducing the idea of silliness into, you know, our, our experiences. And and that's, I think an underrated thing. And you know, and, and part of it is like cuz the audience is STEM faculty, right? And so, like, kind of in some ways giving them, to wanna think about things in like different ways is sometimes part of what I think we can contribute as a field.

Our faculty are really brilliant people, right? And like very intelligent people and so they have diverse ways of coping. Right? Yeah. And so for

Ashby Kinch: But they need permission to kind of to unlock that creativity and apply it in their own way.

Annie Belcourt: Yeah. And, and like, like, “oh, this is valid.” Like, cuz I brought up my pirate videos that I have of my chihuahua and like, as a funny example. Right? But and they're just funny videos, but but it one of the faculty was like, “Oh, is that okay?” Kind of in a way, “That I like videos of, of deer?”

And it's like, “Yeah, that's okay. Of course. Yeah. That's part of your like, you know, your coping,” you know? That's part of like what we do is like, we, we wanna like, you know sometimes we cry, sometimes we do all, all the things. But that's like what makes us human, right? Yeah. And brings us together in this way.

Ashby Kinch: That's a perfect place to wrap. Thank you so much for joining me.

Annie Belcourt: Thank you.