Good Evening everyone! Or.. Goodmorning? Well, I am sitting at my dining room table and it is currently 2:37 AM. For some reason, my thoughts flow a lot better in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping… like my mother, who I can hear snoring from her room. Yeah, bad habit, I know.
But, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Destiny Mulero and I am a rising sophomore planning to major in Public Policy with a minor in either Sociology or Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist studies. I am from Boston, Massachusetts and I actually lived in Queens, New York for 8 years of my childhood. I have two lovely mothers and a big family from Puerto Rico who always considered me the “baby.” So, going to North Carolina for college was a huge transition and attending Duke has been–or at least I thought it would be–a new milestone into adulthood.
This summer I am very excited to be working with Girls for Gender Equity! In high school, while participating in community service, it did not exactly feel as though I had a team with me. Some students participated because they wanted to fulfill requirements. Some simply wanted something to add to their resume. Even at Duke, I enrolled in Sociology 218 where I learned about how societal norms, language, and nearly everything that has been embedded into our daily lives perpetuate the patriarchy. But, half of the class consisted of unengaged students who claimed to just want “an easy A.” I’m guilty too. I found myself so hyper focused on passing my classes and adjusting to the college life that I lost touch with service and activism. At GGE, however, I am grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with partnered organizations that have a common goal to fight for education reform and to create platforms that allow young girls of color to speak, autonomously, on social justice. Through planning activities for the Dignity in Schools Week of Action, a two-day, national event that advocates to end school pushout, I am ready for a summer full of learning that will discipline me and challenge my ways of thinking. To be honest, I think I am already learning some things. Let me tell you a little story…
In November 2016, Massachusetts voted against expanding charter schools. Since 5th grade, my friends and I attended Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School (APR) so none of us really understood why so many people were opposed to the ballot. I mean, we liked our teachers and most of us turned out great! Even out of Dignity in Schools’ six demands, Demand 6 did not settle well with me at first: “Invest in public education, not privatization and charter schools.” I’ve always been told that charter schools are supposed to advance education and invest in students’ lives in ways public schools don’t. So, I never got the chance to understand this view. But, as I read further, I came across something called the “zero tolerance policy” which brought back vivid memories of my time at APR.
I remember when I started mentoring in the middle school. At our first meeting, I asked my mentee to focus on her homework and her response was that she would fail anyway. Initially, I thought she simply lacked confidence. But, as we continued to meet, I noticed that she complained a lot about how she was always being sent to the office and how she would be put on the detention list for uniform infractions. At the time, I didn’t identify an issue in this because I lived through it, my classmates lived through it, and I thought these rigid rules and punishments were normal. But, I specifically remember my mentee say that she liked to joke around, in class, because it made her forget about her teachers, grades, and detention. So, I’m starting to realize that these strict policies and the societal barriers that play into them had a large impact in my mentee’s academic performance and how she viewed herself in the world. However, I did not make this realization until Dignity in Schools defined the “zero tolerance policy” for me.
That’s how I know working with GGE is going to be an unforgettable experience. Already, I am seeing the flaws in different kinds of education policies and reflecting on past experiences that I have yet to confront.
As ecstatic as I am, I am extremely nervous too. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I thought going to Duke would be a milestone into adulthood. But, really it has been a bubble from reality. Working at GGE will be my very first, real internship. I know I am going to make mistakes, but I don’t want to disappoint my boss. Also, people have been working there for so long! What if I am not knowledgeable enough to be effective in helping GGE achieve their goals?
Additionally, this summer I really have to budget my stipend and learn how to cook. 1. I’ve never cooked a real meal before. 2. How can I possibly budget my spending money if I couldn’t even budget my food points last semester??? I won’t have upperclassmen to sponsor me this time and Marketplace definitely won’t be there to save me so I really have to figure that out. But, I know that by the end of the summer, I will mature more as an adult and gain qualities that I do not obtain now. With that, I can’t wait to bond with my Moxie squad and apply what I learn, this summer, to my future career, my next 3 years in college, and my life afterwards.
For now, enjoy this visual representation of how I’m going to be 3 weeks in because I decided to blow my entire stipend on NYC pizza and souvenirs: