Five years ago, I would have never imagined myself as a political science major, living in Washington, D.C. and interning with a disability rights organization. I would have positively had a heart attack if I had been told future me would get arrested for civil disobedience while protesting healthcare reform.
My involvement in the feminist movement, or any sort of political action, began when I was a junior in high school. At that time, I became a member of the Minnesota Youth Council, an all-youth legislative committee that advises the Minnesota House and Senate on youth concerns. I didn’t have any strong political leanings, although I vaguely knew my beliefs didn’t quite align with many of the residents of my ultra-conservative hometown. As I began to get acquainted with Minnesota politics, I also began to find my true passion: advocacy. Soon after, I entered college and became a political science major. I now intern for the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), a disability rights and advocacy organization. Suddenly, I was thrown into a movement I already supported, but had been too afraid to fully immerse myself in.
When several coworkers and I were arrested in Dirksen Senate Office Building fighting against cuts to Medicaid, I was only a little bit nervous, as opposed to absolutely terrified, proving I had made the right choice for myself moving forward. As the hard-plastic zip ties were tightened around my wrists I was scared, but I was also hopeful. The voices of my fellow protesters echoed off the marble floors and crashed off the expansive ceilings, strengthening my resolve and renewing my hope for the future. I was hopeful because I felt I was making a difference, hopeful because I had seen so many strong women stand up around me and feel the infectious joy of advocacy in action, hopeful because when that many women are empowered, there is no telling what they could accomplish.
My path along the way has been enriched by numerous strong female role models and peers. First, it was my mother, who taught me to be fierce in fighting for what I view as right. Later, it was my boss at PACER Center, who revealed to me that it was okay to believe in myself and my talents while still being humble and embodying the spirit of a serving advocate. Soon after, it was my two best friends who, shortly after I met them, exposed the fact that there are countless incredible women all around me, all with unique talents. Even later, it was my female coworkers at NCIL, who showed me the importance of intersectionality and lifting other women up around me. I am constantly empowered by all of these women, and the many more to come. May I always advocate because of you, for you, and with you