For Future Moxies


My fellow Sanctuary intern & partner in crime

To the next installment of NYC-bound badasses,

July 27, 2013 sitting in JFK and already I am SO JEALOUS OF YOU. Get ready for the most unpredictable, challenging and unparalleled experience of your entire life…and take note of the person you perceive yourself to be in this moment; this ‘self’s world will be turned upside down.

I can only imagine your excitement when you received your acceptance letter, screamed, and started making your bucket list for the summer ahead. Imagine I will, because my moment was one of quasi rejection…I was an alternate for Moxie. So for anyone on the waitlist or accepted late like I was, don’t be discouraged and have your moment too!! I feared that I may feel “second tier”, or that it would be really obvious and awkward that I wasn’t initially picked. As much as possible, try to banish these thoughts…you’re here, you’re fantastic and you are going to be an integral part of the group. Be assertive with your opinions and don’t be embarrassed about things you don’t know, this summer will be a learning experience for all.


Anita Hill!!

This being said, you are all going to be equipped with all of the tools (readings, internships, events), the location (change happens in NYC) and the catalysts (seminars, reflection dinners, blogging) to change your world and the reality of people around you. You have two brilliant, trailblazing women (Ada, Anna Marie and Walter…the only dog I will ever like) guiding you through this program designed to educate, inspire, shock, mobilize and fuel you to expose and remove the unspoken privilege and oppression ingrained in our society. The impact that Moxie will have on you is entirely in your control…take advantage of every moment to be challenged, nurtured and educated this summer.

Logistics: Buy a map. New York is YOURS for the summer, and it will take you that long to try and discover it all. You will be living in the trendy West Village area, right beside a subway station with trains that span all of the Boroughs. I don’t have a Smartphone, so my pop-out, laminated map took the place of any navigation apps (HopStop being the group favourite). Initially I was unsure and afraid of being lost or late, but I am so grateful now to have been forced to intuitively travel around the city. Having a map allows you to get a feel for the bigger picture, the different neighborhoods and how all the subway lines are organized. While you are off exploring….take photos!! I am really regretting my sporadic picture-taking right now as I’m desperate for Moxie. Luckily, I have Kristie aka the most fabulous and technologically savvy person alive who diligently captured  the past eight weeks in photos, videos, tweets and “check-ins”.



The Vannelli Family does Pride

Lastly, cherish and develop the connections you will make. You will be brought together with nine other Dukies that you probably would never have met otherwise. On top of that, your supervisors, the feminist superheroes and guest “lecturers” whom you will come in contact with are all phenomenal people to get to know. Listen to their stories, and share your own. As for the Moxies themselves…we were an eclectic bunch of women, each of whom I want to be when I grow up.




I will be joining the ranks of avid readers of this blogosphere, and can’t wait to read about how you tackle the summer ahead!

Moxie love,


Our Stepping Stones

“One problem with our current society is that we have an attitude towards education as if it is there to simply make you more clever, make you more ingenious… Even though our society does not emphasize this, the most important use of knowledge and education is to help us understand the importance of engaging in more wholesome actions and bringing about discipline within our minds. The proper utilization of our intelligence and knowledge is to effect changes from within to develop a good heart.”

—Dalai Lama

                  After several hours in Shanghai and 18 hours in the sky, I have finally landed in Seoul and able to catch a breath. I’m able to take in everything that has happened in the past eight weeks and that ain’t a small feat. I have come away with 9 fellow Duke friends who I share so many things in common with as well as role models including my supervisors at Legal Momentum. I have been given a wealth of knowledge and experience, those that have proved to be strong stepping stones for what’s to follow. I just finished uploading photos and videos to Facebook and Instagram and have already viewed each of them a multitude of times. Having completed four years at a boarding school, a gap year in Boston conducting research on my own and two years at Duke, I have always thought of myself as independent. And yet, I cannot tell you how much I have grown during these two months. A few weeks back, one other Moxie and I decided to walk back to our dormitory from Ada’s apartment. What she said can easily wrap up what there is to be taken away from this Moxie adventure. This summer isn’t about the big transformation as a feminist and as a person, she noted, but the little changes that occur within ourselves as we learn new things about the world and about ourselves. #word

P.S. One of our Sunday discussions included L.C. Coleman, founder of “Colored Women Confidential” and fellow Dukie. We were asked to write a word describing each Moxie on each other’s backs. I thought that this space would be a fantastic opportunity to unveil what I think of everyone else. And the funny thing is, if you gave me a chance to re-evaluate, I wouldn’t change my word for each of these ladies. #forevermoxie

Ambie: Genuine

Clurr: Spirited

Ngozi: Spunky

Lorena: Sweet

Mel: Upbeat

Maya: Confident

Gracie: Compassionate

Sarah: Reliable

Brianna: Energy Bunny



BitterSweet Endings

As my mom, brother and I took a quick stop into the shops on 5th Ave and strolled through the Union Square market I had a mixture of emotions once again.  We are still in NYC, still within a 5-block radius of where I had called home for the past 2 months, but everything was now over.

Sanctuary was no longer my home, everyday 10 – 5.

Keys and Card were turned in.

Rooms were empty.

10 Moxie girls had come…

and now they were gone.

Bittersweet can be defined as “pleasant but including elements of suffering”… this depicts my feeling about most endings…but especially Moxie.

The Sweet part: The past 8 weeks have been EXHAUSTING but in a very good way.  I was pushed mentally (Moxie discussions and personal reflections), physically (double workouts, full workdays, 6:30am wake-up calls for pt), and emotionally (personal discussions with the Moxie girls, working out anxieties for the future, and discovering realistic responsibilities for myself within the movement once Moxie was behind me).  Therefore, an end to Moxie looked positive and pleasant in many ways. I could let my mind rest for a little while, focus on my running, and spend some time with my family before having to go back to school.  All good things…right?

But then again the conclusion was so abrupt, upsetting, confusing and made me uneasy.

The Bitter part: Hadn’t we just gotten here, had our first dinner at Anna Marie’s, prepared for our first day of work and were introduced to all of the interesting people, activities and ideas that we were going to be exposed to this summer? Where did the time go? I was not ready to leave the relationships I had just forged, the friends I was just starting to get to know, and the city that revealed a new adventure to me each day with many places still left a mystery.


Although I am saddened, midway through this blog I had a change of heart! Moxie is over, but hey! These bitter parts can be made sweet!! I will always have the memories and influence that these 9 amazing, diverse, passionate, outspoken, driven young women had on me. I will still have the plethora of knowledge of women and their continued struggles to create social change and to achieve a voice and presence in leadership positions, and society in general for that matter. And I will still have the experience I have gained from dipping my foot into the water of the professional world.

Thank you to my Development Family at Sanctuary – Lisa, Susan, Emily, Jin, Johnny, Sasha, Kaitlin, John, Laura and Claire (can’t forget my fellow interns :D).

Thank You to Ada, and Anna Marie, for constantly providing me feedback and pushing me each week to reflect and develop my interpersonal skills.  I am not sure if you both realize how much I appreciate the time you took to respond to my reflections, as well as how much you cared about my personal growth.

Life is moving on. Now it is my turn to give back; to use Moxie as a new beginning, to use my experiences as inspiration, and to use my long-held, but now renewed passions, to guide my way.

#Moxie, Thanks for the Memories

I don’t have a twitter account so I don’t really know how hashtags work, but I’m gonna take a stab at it. I’m going to recount my most memorable Moxie moments with pure hashtag love, so let’s begin.

#cryingonthefirstday #bright-eyedambi #blueberrybeer #Sundays@16handles #NBAfinalswithGrace #pasta #pancakehangovers #karaoke&sushi #where’smelanie? #Sanctuary4familiesgala #themusicstopsoncewehitthedancefloor #blurredlines #Merle #outingSarahasonesexylady #Kristie’slargeassphone@eve #Moxiesextalks #Phebes #Irishmen #asexual/dawnsexual/hetero #Crazynightwithmel #Sarahgetoutofmyroom #Ambermymotherdaughter #accidentalpervert #anitahill #partiesin6c #hotstop…mysavior #summons #Moxieloveconfessions #Sundays@Ada’s #Amber’sdancelessons #Kristieswaffle #Goodstuffdiner #Carlito #youngblackprofessional #JuniorsCheesecake! #JuniorsCheesecakebreadbowl #pregnantwalkinginBrooklyn #BrooklynBridge #tree #claireisperfect #amazingfood@HollaRev #moviemarathonswithambi #AmberlosesitwhenNgozigoestoD.C. #heteroweekend #weekendwithDara #Ann #candy&ice #let’sditchtheseguys #GraceditchesStuStu #IamNGOZZIII #IAmNGOZZIIremix #superlatives@thedinnertable #walter #concertsintheshower #Gracetacklesaboy #usingallofMelaniesstuff #manwiththefannypack@16handles #Sarah’ssoftvoice #theyburnedmyhair #kirkdoingwheelies #CATFISH #LAHHATL #Kristies”binge”sessions


But on a serious note, I loved this experience, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to have shared this experience with. I’ve grown so much in the last 6 weeks, both emotionally and professionally. Thank you Yashna for giving me the opportunity to work with the National Domestic Workers.

Thank you Anna Marie for being so supportive. You went out of your way to make sure I was getting the most out of the experience even when I was most frustrated; you genuinely care about me learning through group discussions, so I really appreciate all you do!

Thank you Ada for pushing me to be a stronger woman. When I admitted that my confidence decreased significantly during my transition from high school to college, you challenged me to question why this happened, and what I can do (risk-taking) to rebuild myself. I never thought that risk-taking could remedy my loss of confidence. I’ve been working on taking risks of various degrees for the past few weeks, and it has been pretty rewarding. Thank you again for pushing me to be a better, stronger woman.

And finally thank you Moxies for being not only intelligent AF but fabulous and loving. Lots of love! Thanks for the memories, ladies. #Peaceout

Peace Moxie


n. Slang

1. The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.
2. Aggressive energy; initiative: “His prose has moxie, though it rushes and stumbles from a pent-up surge” (Patricia Hampl).
3. Skill; know-how.
My new best frands
Opposition identified
Xciting topics and X-rated conversations
Island of Manhattan
Eyes opened.
Loved it.

A Thank You to the Moxie Project

This summer has given me a greater experience than I ever dreamed it would. The Moxie Project opened up a safe space for learning, reflections and discussion. I had the opportunity to think about issues and discuss ideas with a diverse group of people who were always kind and open to one another. I can not thank Ada, Anna Marie, all of the Moxie girls from Duke, or the GGE staff enough for challenging me and allowing me to feel comfortable expressing my ideas and reflections. I feel so grateful to have had this experience and am excited to continue exploring ideas of feminism, race, power, privilege and all of the complicated intersections of society throughout my life. Thank you Moxie!!

7 reasons why The Moxie Project may not be your thing


  1. You will STILL be a victim of street harassment when it’s over: “God BLESS YOU, yo legs are GREAT. DANGGG. Have an AMAZING day.”  Thanks. I hope God still blesses me when I don’t work out 7 days a week.
  2. Conversations about oppression and privilege are EXHAUSTING.  You may leave them feeling guilty, useless, oppressive, and oppressed.  And even when you think you have spent sufficient time on the subject, you will be required to sit through more and more speeches and exercises that make you feel guilty, useless, oppressive, and oppressed.
  3. If self-reflection isn’t your thing, neither is Moxie.  A reflection every week can be difficult to put on paper when you feel like your life is a random assortment of shit-show moments.  That’s how your life may feel when you’re sitting in a cubicle all day, totally strapped for cash in an expensive city, and constantly noticing how NASTY the culture we live in is.
  4. When you encounter older feminists, they will either be shocked that young feminists exist or they will commend you on your feminism in a way that makes you feel like the fate of women/girls/humanity now lays in your un-weathered hands.  Haha- sux 2 b u.
  5. Non-profits are totally broke, so even if you want to be low-key during your unpaid internship, it’s simply not an option.  One second you feel unneeded, the next you are told to prepare a presentation for an off-site meeting. What???
  6. You will never have 2 days in a row off, so if you are not from the Northeast and you think it would be adventurous to do Duke Engage New York and discover a new part of the country, that exciting trip to Boston that you imagined is VERY stressful to pull off (I tried, but only because I live up here and had all resources handy, see my blog post titled, “I wore the same dress for 5 days straight”).
  7. Duke students from another Duke program live in the same NYU dorms as you, so if you thought you’d be escaping the Duke scene for the summer LOL & don’t even get me started on how many Dukies you will see if you go out.

But if you DO partake in The Moxie Project, the advantages are uncountable.  The young women that surround you are UNREAL and will make you pee yourself with excitement JUST THINKING ABOUT running into each other on campus (I LOVE YOU LADIES SO MUCH, I’VE NEVER FELT MORE APPRECIATED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE).  Your organization will appreciate you in ways that you’d never expect.  And lastly, the women supervising you, from the program (shout out to Ada and Anna Marie) and your non-profit (Francoise Jacobsohn is my hero), are there for you.  Basically, you never struggle alone. This program is designed so that quite the opposite happens.



A Letter to My Girls

To my cherished Moxies:

writing handI have typed and retyped; backspaced and deleted, and here remains the raw sentiment that comes closest to expressing my thankfulness for your participation in this experience with me.  Each of you have incited in me some form of personal growth, and for that, you deserve thanks.  So here is your thank you, your shout out, and your fifteen seconds of blogospheric fame.  Here is my letter of appreciation to all of you, though I’m sure these simple words will not really suffice.

To my lovely roommate Kristie:

Thank you for being so openly you.  We laughed about our strange habits and cracked the corniest jokes.  You taught me that being myself is just fine, and for that too, I thank you.

To my outrageous suitemate Ngozi:

Thank you for being so nurturing.  Never have I been so convinced or encouraged to take a chance, and without your (often fanatical) advice, I would not have arrived at this point.  So thank you for being there for me always—I can’t imagine how the summer would have gone without you.

To my friendly inspiration Melanie:

Thank you for being so kind.  I feel so happy to have met you and heard about your diverse experiences at Duke and your strong affinity for breadbaskets.  You showed me a lot about what it means to be a good friend and person, and I can’t wait to reunite in the fall.

To my knowledgeable buddy Maya:

Thank you for being so accepting!!  I never doubted whether or not I could talk to you about anything.  You really showed me the value in being open-minded, and I look up to you in so many different ways.

To my ambitious role model Vannelli:

Thank you for being so enthusiastic.  Your multi-dimensional excellence inspires me to strive for continuous improvement in every area of my life.  I’m so pleased to be able to call you a friend, and I thank you so much for your character and the brilliance in all that you do.

To my fun-loving friend Gracie:

Thanks for being so honest and approachable!  Conversing with you was always both rewarding and entertaining.  You were always there to laugh with me or offer a quick lesson about current events.  In short, thanks for being awesome.  I could always count on you for that.

To my loving and open Brianna:

I’m sure you know I can’t describe our friendship in a few short sentences, but I guess I’ll strike the tip of the iceberg by thanking you for your sincerity and determination in every single thing that you do.  I appreciate you and look up to you, and I’m really excited to continue our friendship in the future.

To my fellow freshman Lorena:

Thank you for being so friendly! You were always up for anything and I knew that we could always chat. As the only two sophomores we had a bond, and I appreciated that throughout the summer.

And to my soul sister Sarah:

Thank you so much for being my big sis, for mentoring me in so many ways, and for consistently encouraging me to do the right thing.  You are so talented and wise, and I feel like I will grow so much simply from being your friend.

Of course I’d also like to thank Ada and Anna Marie, our kind and fearless leaders who worked tirelessly to ensure that we Moxies had an entirely enriching experience this summer.  Similarly, I’d like to thank our commentators and everyone who reads our blogs, like Nancy, Christy, and especially my new pal Vic.  I’m grateful to all of you, and so appreciative of everything you’ve done.  Thank you so much for such a remarkable summer.  Surely, it will not be forgotten.

My top 5 Take-A-ways from the Moxie Experience

It’s weird how time works, it seems like yesterday my parents lugged all of my stuff into the city and said their goodbyes before leaving me in a very new and different setting, with new people, a new job, a new program – a whole new life.  I remember the excitement, the nerves, and the unknown.  I would never have guessed that by the end of the summer I would have met Eve and Anita Hill, made new best friends, explored the Museum of Sex, been a part of raising 2 million dollars at a Fundraiser Gala, and reaching out and collaborating with a COO.

I sometimes have difficulty recognizing my achievements, but I think it is important to be able to acknowledge your successes, because if not, you would always be focused on what you didn’t do and what you could have done; that just doesn’t seem like a healthy mindset.  So I am glad to say that I am very proud of what I accomplished during my Moxie experience, that I really put myself out there, both with the Moxie girls and total strangers, and I allowed myself to be molded by the experience.

Now I can delve a little deeper into what I took away from this program – I had to limit myself with this blog title…If I didn’t cap it at 5 I would be going on and on, because a lot can, and did happen in my time here in NYC.  However, I will just highlight the top 5 most important take-a-ways that I do not believe I could have gotten during any other summer experience:

1.    New Friends & the luxury of discussion: Coming into Moxie one thing that I had hoped for was that I would not only get to know 9 other girls that I had never come in contact with at Duke, but also that I would somehow connect and click with 1 or 2 and find a friend that I would continue to develop a relationship with even when the summer had ended.  Now this is asking a lot, especially for me and my personality.  I don’t have very many close friends because I don’t force things that aren’t there. On top of that, genuinely good friends that you click with are very hard to find, but I am so fortunate to have found that at Moxie.  On a different note, even if I didn’t make 9 new best friends I was granted the privilege of being surrounded by other women who were interested in exploring, and understanding, the position of women in our society as well as questioning and digging deeper into how we can create change for both women as well as all other oppressed groups.  I will continue to have these conversations after Moxie; however this experience, our discussions and readings, and the safe environment that encouraged engagement can never be replicated.   


2.    Challenge & Feedback: Whether it was from fellow Moxies, my instructors, or in the professional environment, it was the group discussions, individual conversations and informal interviews that pushed me to view my actions, opinions and attitude from a new perspective.  I found that although I am on the most part an understanding and open person, I do have some work to do with my reactions to people’s advice or feedback. I still see that I can get defensive sometimes and take criticism as attacking my character and beliefs.  However, I need to keep in mind that it’s not “my” beliefs that are being questioned and on top of that these beliefs are not “truth.”  After our last discussion section, I realized that I need to expose myself to the other side; the ideas that I may not agree with because 1. It is unfair to think that other people should hear me out and understand what I think is “right” if I don’t give anytime to explore their side, and 2. It is for my benefit to hear the other side because it will either reinforce my beliefs and develop my knowledge of the counter-argument, or it will expose me to something that maybe I agree with more…

3.   New level of relationships and increased confidence:  Working at Sanctuary for Families I had my first taste of the real “working world.” I had to learn how to interact with co-workers and my boss, to speak up, and to take a chance and reach out to others if I wanted to understand and engage on a deeper level.  Additionally, I pushed myself multiple times to get to know people outside of my organization. I emailed and meet with others who I wanted to build a relationship with and share my ideas and projects with. I am now discussing new initiatives with COO’s, connecting with founders of organizations, and hopefully in the near future, meeting and brainstorming with individuals who have passion and power in the social movements I am involved in.  This has elevated my confidence because it has shown me that not only can I interact with women on my own level, but I am taking that next step to engage and get involved with people in all different organizations, and diverse sectors, to address the same issues that I am trying to change in my own Duke community.

4.    Respect & Appreciation: I wanted to thank my instructors and Duke-Engage for providing me this summer opportunity.  There were definitely times when I was tired or stressed and did not want to go to events, or drained from the week and did not know what I was going to talk about in discussion but I tried to keep in mind that only 10 individuals were chosen for this program, and what they would give to be here right now. The last thing that we should be doing is complaining about our schedule or dragging out conversations because we just “aren’t feeling it.”  Not only is it offensive to the people who are taking time out for us, but it just reflects an attitude of disregard and frankly, taking advantage of our privilege.  Being respectful is not a difficult thing to do and it can only improve relationships. 

5.    Exposure: Real life, in your face experiences: Nothing compares to experiencing things first hand. The Pride Parade, meeting Anita Hill in person, discussing my future with a very powerful and knowledgeable woman, watching Subverted, a one woman play portraying 20 characters and the depth of oppression, walking the Brooklyn Bridge — I could go on and on. These events can be passed from one person to the next through written stories or word of mouth, videos can try to capture the power and emotion in a play, and pictures can attempt to display the multitude of characters that walked down 5th Ave during the Parade. But it will never feel the same as being right there.  New York City is an amazing experience on its own, without an internship or Duke program, with people and experiences zooming by you.  This summer I am reminded never to take these in-your-face opportunities for granted and to make the most of the experiences you choose to take part in, as well as the ones you are privileged enough to be given. Because there are SOO many people who will never get to experience it like you.

Love is a Battlefield

“The mechanics of oppressing people is to pervert them to the extent that they become instruments of their own oppression”


What’s the number word used in marketing for young girls?  Love. And for boys?  Battle….. sighhhh.

As I have grown up, I’ve always been obsessed with love.  I’m not talking about the peacemaking kind that changes the world (though I love that too) but the romantic, Disney princess, chick flick, perfect first date story, lineage of happily married family members who I look up to kind of love.  Over and over again, I ask my parents to tell me their love stories, to hear the glorious moments that have mapped out their relationships so that I can build a map of my own to find my perfect husband!  Recently I think that I was socialized and subverted to a very narrow definition of the kind of romantic relationship that I want.  As I have been drawn into this romantic fantasy land, it’s been in many ways very classist, racist, heteronormative, elitist, ableist  and yet at the core of my every hope and desire.  No one ever expected that I’d have to confront my romance ideals as a feminist.  The search that’s been a priority in my life is everything but complementary to how I’ve grown to understand myself as a feminist.  And it’s really hard to shake.  I’ve been taught and happily embraced striving for a man well groomed to become the perfect, handsome head of my life.  It’s damaging because when I encounter these men I end up despising them. And when I meet men who some part of me really connects with or who I really want to be with in some way I’m scared of actually being attracted to someone who isn’t this perfect patriarchal American man.

When I think of ways to reshape my social constructions of what intimate relationships would look like, I’m really afraid! To redefine something so crucial to my gender identity, my femininity, my culture, and how I’ve envisioned my future and myself is horrifying.   Like, terrifying. Young people are socialized into what romance and love and family looks like very early in life.  I do not see much work at all to try to fix this and I wonder how my own life would be different if I weren’t taught to look for a prince.