Interviews with 2015 RRASC Interns Ally, Jazmin, Keanan, and Sophia

 


Ally Batchelder

RRASC Placement: Political Research Associates, Boston, MA

Hometown: Chesterfield, MA

College and Major: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

What was the most exciting, engaging, and/or meaningful part of your internship?

Coming to this internship with a background in gender studies, I found it exciting to shift my lens to a more explicitly political analysis. I was able to apply theoretical feminist concepts to my research on anti-abortion legislation to identify strategies utilized by the opposition and think about trends in anti-abortion organizing. While my research focused specifically on the political workings of the anti-abortion movement, my time at PRA exposed me to research on the U.S. Right more broadly. I now have a stronger sense of how the Right enforces economic, racial, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic oppression through intertwined corporate, religious, and political networks. I've considered how various political issues are connected to each other in ways I hadn't thought of before, such as how the frame of religious liberty is used by the Right to justify attacks on reproductive rights and the rights of LGBTQ people. This makes it apparent that our theorizing and activist work must be broad and intersectional in order to truly achieve reproductive justice for everyone. Studying the opposition has also been a way of rationalizing it. PRA has encouraged me to recognize that being dismissive of the opposition is not a useful approach to activism.

What draws you to reproductive justice work, and why did you apply for RRASC?

I was introduced to the concept of reproductive justice through my studies at UMass, where I began exploring an academic focus in reproductive rights. A reproductive justice framework allowed me to make meaningful connections between my own experiences and larger systems of oppression. When I found out about RRASC, I thought it was such an exciting opportunity and a unique program. The variety of reproductive justice focus areas and internships offered by RRASC was exciting to me because my interests are very broad. Attending the CLPP conference during RRASC training solidified my commitment to being involved reproductive justice work. I was amazed by the theory in practice that happened at the CLPP conference. It is definitely a special space for people of all identities to come together and work in solidarity for reproductive freedom.

What did you like about the location of your internship?

I loved living in Boston for the summer! I grew up in rural Western Mass and am going to school here so it was exciting for me to have the opportunity to experience city life. The convenience of public transportation was awesome since it’s not so easy to get around in Western Mass without a car. Boston was perfect for me because it is a relatively small for a city and not too overwhelming. What was really exciting was that I had access to local organizing and activism that was going on so I was able to meet new people, form connections, and expand my social justice network beyond my hometown.

Would you be a RRASC intern again?

Yes! This summer was truly transformative for me.The RRASC program changed my life in a way I didn’t know was possible — I am in a very different place now than I was a year ago. A lot of this has to do with being able to work through some aspects of my personal relationship to my politics — in particular to abortion and mental illness. The opportunity to be involved in efforts for reproductive justice through research and to be a part of a community with shared values was very healing for me. Through directly confronting the opposition to reproductive rights, I have become more confident and less afraid to speak out about why I think fighting for reproductive justice is important. I have continued to realize that I am not sad or ashamed about the personal experiences that brought me here. I was able to do this difficult that work that I am passionate about while feeling supported and CLPP staff and empowered by my fellow RRASCs.

 



Jazmin Gonzalez

RRASC Placement: Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

Hometown: Harlingen, TX

College and Major: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Political Science and Sociology

What draws you to reproductive justice work, and why did you apply for RRASC?

What draws me to reproductive justice work is being a Queer Xicana from the Rio Grande Valley. I want to do reproductive justice work because of all the intersections that I live everyday, and because in my opinion this is the best way to approach work that makes strides for healthy womxn (spelling is intentional -KM) and families. I applied for RRASC because I had never heard of such an amazing opportunity before and I really wanted to do an internship with one of the amazing Latin@ organizations listed.

How do you plan to bring what you learned this summer to your future activist work, either on your campus or in your community?

I learned a lot more about DACAII and DAPA, as well as birthing justice and ACA health insurance. I have been able to directly bring my DACA/DAPA info into my new job working at the Dream Home, which is supportive housing for students who benefit from the Dream Act. I plan on helping people learn more about the ACA through one of my organizations at school since we are hosting informational sessions about how to sign up for health insurance as a student.

What did you like about the location of your internship?

I love Denver — it’s a beautiful city inside a beautiful state. My office was located down the street form the capitol where I was able to go to protests and marches throughout the summer. Also the hiking, camping, and concerts in Colorado are A1!

 



Keanan Gotlieb

RRASC Placement: The Trans Buddy Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Hometown: Cardiff, CA

College and Major: Pitzer Collge, Public Health

What draws you to reproductive justice work, and why did you apply for RRASC?

I actually was not directly involved with reproductive justice work prior to or during my internship. However, I was involved with its intersections of queerness, race, and class. Because my internship was in the health care field, which a lot of reproductive justice focuses on, and was specific to trans health, it is still is influenced by and intersects with reproductive justice. I applied for RRASC because the focus on healthcare and social justice and the strength of the program.

What did you like about the location of your internship?

I liked how different Nashville is than Southern California. I wanted to experience a different part of the country for an extended amount of time, and being in a major city in a rural state fulfilled this. There is a lot to do in Nashville, like roller derby tournaments, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and weekly drag shows. I also learned a lot from the people I met around the city who were not only from Nashville but from the surrounding towns and counties as well.

What is your advice for future interns?

My advice to future interns is to make the most of your summer by exploring your surroundings, going to events, and taking advantage of opportunities presented to you by your supervisor, co-workers, etc.. However, learn to say no if you have to. It can be hard to find a balance between taking advantage of everything offered and also not burning out.

How do you plan to bring what you learned this summer to your future activist work, either on your campus or in your community?

I plan to take what I learned this summer back to my campus by trying to start an advocacy program for students who interact with emergency medical services. Like the Trans Buddy Program, it will focus on support, empowerment, and education.

 



Sophia Schilling

RRASC Placement: The Reproductive Health Access Project, New York, NY

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

College and Major: University of Iowa, Communications and Nonprofit Management

What was the most exciting, engaging, and/or meaningful part of your internship?

One of the most exciting parts of my internship was being a doula in our affiliated clinic two days a week. I loved this part of my job because I got to interact with patients face-to-face, and gained invaluable experience in a health care setting as well as gained perspective on the health care system in general. It was also very meaningful to see the materials produced by the Reproductive Health Access Project used in a real life clinic setting. It helped bring context to the work we were doing in the nonprofit and made me realize how important the work RHAP does is to patients and physicians.

What draws you to reproductive justice work, and why did you apply for RRASC?

I have always had a desire to work for the common good, and reproductive justice seemed like a logical place to start. I was raised by a single mother who taught me the value of my voice and the importance of making it heard, especially when it came to the health and safety of myself and the people I love. This is what inspired me to get involved, and I got my first internship with Planned Parenthood in Minneapolis and fell in love with RJ. I applied for RRASC because I was interested in doing advocacy work outside of the Midwest and out of my comfort zone. I also applied because I was interested in meeting other young people who had similar interests and passions that I have, and was definitely not disappointed on either front!

What is your advice for future interns?

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and what you need. And always remember self care! I feel that so many people who work in RJ have such big hearts and always want to throw themselves into every cause they are involved in, but it is so important to take a step back for yourself and remember that your mental health and wellbeing is just as important as the cause you’re fighting for.