In 297 days I will be a graduate of Duke University. Now that may sound like a lot, but trust me, as each day passes and that number gets smaller, it’s like a slap to the face that I need to actually get my life together. In the last few weeks of my Moxie experience, the future seems to be all my brain can think about.
What am I going to be doing in 298 days?
I used to think I had it all figured out. I would go into public health research, work in a lab somewhere or for some government health agency. Easy right? I had a plan.
But lately, as time slowly starts to run out, I’m starting to second guess the plans that I had ingrained in my head for so long. And this summer in the Moxie program hasn’t made it any less complicated. Before starting this program, I saw it as a way to grow as a feminist and expand my knowledge of social justice principles and feminist theory, but I hadn’t really connected the program to my career interests. When I first applied, I didn’t know what organization I would end up with or what type of work I would be doing, but I had anticipated that it probably wouldn’t completely relate to my work in public health.
When I would tell people that I was going to work for a non-profit this summer, many were surprised that I was planning to branch out of my usual research based jobs while others simply commended me for the “moral work” I’d be doing. But I’ve realized that that isn’t what I want this experience to be. I don’t want it to just be a note on my resume to show that I have dabbled in the nonprofit sector or had experience serving “less privileged communities”. My work at GGE and my experience with the Moxie program as a whole has really made me think about what kind of work I actually want to go into.
When I was originally placed with Girls for Gender Equity, I’ll admit I was nervous. I had limited experience working with schools and the education system. I had never planned youth programs or written a curriculum. And I didn’t know what it would feel like to work as a white woman for an organization that focuses on issues related to girls of color. I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured I would try it out and step out of my comfort zone for the summer.
What I didn’t realize was how much the experience would change me, and how much I would learn from the people I have been working with. While the things I have learned about the NYC education system, after-school program planning, and curriculum building may not exactly end up translating into my future work, the everyday conversations on issues of race, gender, discrimination, emotional intelligence, community building, etc — these are the skills and the knowledge that I know will stay with me in everything I do. I know now that I want — I need my work in public health, whatever that may be, to actually mean something and to actually at least attempt to make real change. The hard part now is just figuring out how to make that happen.
So while I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be headed or what I’ll be doing in 298 days (you’ll have to get back to me on that), I can assure you that I’ll no doubt be carrying this summer’s experiences with me wherever I go.