Introducing Lara Castillo

Photo of intern Lara CastilloHello Everyone! My name is Lara Castillo. I am in the Health Sciences Field and currently approaching my last semester at UMKC. I have two dogs named Peanut and Rocky. We enjoy going to dog parks, on warmer days, of course. And I love traveling and exploring the outdoors with my husband. My secret hobby is video games in my spare time.

The career path I want to go into is social work. I plan to further my education and explore going into law. I chose UMKC to attend because of its diverse and welcoming student population. I believe that experiences and our surroundings are an integral part of growth and, being at this institution has allowed me to explore an environment that lets students thrive.

I am an intern this Spring 2021 at the UMKC Women’s Center. The mission statement of this entity uplifts women everywhere which, is one of my goals. I believe that the same opportunities and resources should be available for women to show that we value our mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and friends. This semester, I hope to gain more wisdom with women’s issues to better advocate for women.

 

Walked a Mile Alone, to Stand Up Together!

By April Brown

We kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Tuesday October 6th, 2020 which marked the annual UMKC sector of Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, the international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. In spite of its binary name, UMKC encourages any and everyone to participate in this march to end gender based violence against all people. It’s an inclusive and fun way to shed light on some very dark issues that plague our society, especially on college campuses.

This day is usually a rowdy one, characterized by large groups of friends and allies, high heeled shoes, and picket signs that call for peace and love above all else. Together with most of the other student organizations, the women’s center would lead a march around campus that cultivated a crowd so large it would demand everyone’s attention. The acceptance, tolerance, and love would be tangible as the group walked by.

This year the event had to be done a little differently. With COVID an ever present risk, the Women’s Center wasn’t even sure we would be able to put on this event. I mean, it is an event about togetherness, and about standing in solidarity. We were pressed to find a way to make the same impact with this event, while remaining isolated, distanced, and safe. Being unable to gather on campus made it especially difficult for Emma, Abbie, and Morgan, the staff members responsible for the Walk A Mile event this year, as they couldn’t even put their heads (physically) together to try and figure out a new way to pull this off.

Despite the challenges though, our staff members, along with the help of their co-sponsors, were able to come up with a program that adhered to the campuses restrictions and rules, but also provided an opportunity for the student organizations and other students and faculty to physically stand with victims of sexual and gender based violence. Though we couldn’t lead a mass group of people around campus, Emma and Abbie did find a way to make sure the walk could still happen on campus. With chalk outlines on the sidewalk, and printed out maps, participants could stop at the Women’s Center table in the quad, grab a T-shirt, a map, and shoes (if they wanted them), and take the mile long walk on their own. With requirements to stay six feet apart, and to keep your mask on the entire time, students and faculty were able to bring a friend or two and take the self guided march for equality. They were encouraged to snap selfies and pictures of themselves and the walk to post to social media to be sure the importance of their walk reached as many people as possible.

I was not working the event, so I decided to pay Abbie, Morgan, and Emma a visit while they sat at their table waiting for people to come by and start their own walk. I wanted to see how this walk would affect me, and others around me, now that it seemed to be such a quiet and singular thing. Would it have the same impact? Could it possibly raise any awareness this way?

After arming myself with a T-shirt and a map I started my trek through the course all on my own. I was surprised to find that I actually felt very powerfully about what I was doing, even being all by myself. The chalk arrows on the ground eventually gave way to statistics about rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. They were so moving I found myself stopping and just taking in the information. I was learning so much! I ambled through the first half of the walk, stopping often and looking around. People were looking at me too, my shirt like a flashlight in the dark. They were curious. I saw that people on their way to class, or lunch, or wherever they were headed would not only look at me but look at the ground too. They would stop and read the messages written there. They were learning as much as I was.

Then the statistics gave way to messages of support, encouragement, and empowerment towards the end of the walk. There were chalked instructions on how to handle someone who discloses having been hurt or assaulted, how to handle your own emotions if it happens to you, and simple messages like “Believe Survivors.” Needless to say this was a very powerful way to end the course. The mile came to an abrupt halt at the outside entrance to the Women’s Center. I stood there by myself for a minute, reflecting on what I had done, and knowing that no one really saw me do it, and there was no big production, but that I had learned and changed along the way anyway. I truly felt like an ally to and advocate for victims.

Later on in the day I did the walk again with a few friends, but we didn’t talk much throughout it. They, like me, were busy watching the ground, and learning about the realities of so many people in our community. I found that the quiet, solitary, introspective nature of the event was as powerful, if not more powerful, than the robust, celebratory atmosphere of previous years. For the first time since school started up again I felt connected to my campus, and to the other students here, especially as social media began to fill up with pictures of other people who had walked the same path I had that day. We had done it all on our own, but we had stood together with the victims of these heinous acts. We weren’t isolated in this act.

In all I think the event, though it was small, different, and difficult to pull off, was pretty successful. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do and that was to bring people together in the name of reform, justice, love, and peace, which is one hell of an accomplishment, especially now.

 

The Women’s Center is Happy to Welcome Mia Lukic to Our Staff!

By Mia Lukic

Hi Friends!

My name is Mia Lukic, and this is my second year at UMKC. I am in the Six Year Law program and am majoring in Philosophy with a minor in French. I am a first generation American and first generation college student. My family came to the US from the former Yugoslavia and I was born a couple years later in Saint Louis, MO. I am fluent in BCS (Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian) and am working towards fluency in French. I think another language is the greatest gift you could be given or give yourself!

I decided to go into law because of my passion for human rights, and as we know, women’s rights are human rights! The Women’s Center aligns with my personal beliefs and morals and I think it is a great place to surround myself with likeminded individuals and to learn and grow as a woman, student, professional, and feminist. I am looking forward to working with the awesome staff at the Women’s Center and UMKC students to foster positive conversations and contribute to the wonderful programs and social media sites.

After UMKC, I aim to work for a nonprofit that focuses on women’s rights. While I have been met with many lawyers and advisors who say that after my first year of law school I will change to a more lucrative track, I know my purpose is to help people and fight for those who feel powerless. I acknowledge it will not always be easy, but I know I could not do anything else with my life while there are still people in the world facing grave injustices.

I hope to use my blog posts to educate people about some of the causes most dear to my heart and cannot wait to work on my first official post!

Kelsey Holloway Joins the Women’s Center as The New Social Media Manager!

Image previewBy Kelsey Holloway

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Holloway, I am currently a Junior here at UMKC and I am studying Public and Interpersonal Communications! I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri and I am so happy that I decided to stay here for college. After college I plan to go into Influencer/ Social Media Management so when I heard about this opportunity with the Women’s Center, I was very determined to reach for it!

            I have a lot of hobbies which range from spending way too much money on clothes, randomly moving halfway across the country, taking photos, and making YouTube videos. I would like to believe that I am the main character in my life and I feel like that’s the best way to view it. I have a very adventurous spirit and love to travel whenever I can; however, being a college student and living through a pandemic that is…… not happening.

            The Women’s Centers mission aligns with everything I believe in, and I love that I have this opportunity to be a part of it. As an intern here, I can’t wait to promote everything that the Women’s Center at UMKC stands for and what they do, not only for our school, but also for our community. I cannot wait to see where this semester goes, and I know that this will benefit my future career so much! It has only been one week so far and I have already learned so much! Not only about social media management, but also about women’s rights and different ways we can fight and advocate for them!

            I am so excited for this semester with the Women’s Center! I can’t wait to work with everyone at the Women’s Center on all our social media platforms so our students, and the public, can stay updated on everything we’re doing, and things that they can do during these times to stay motivated, healthy, and educated!

Welcome Morgan Clark to the Women’s Center Staff!

By Morgan Clark

Hey,

My name is Morgan Clark and I’m senior here at UMKC. I was born and raised and Kansas City. I transferred here two years ago after coming home from deployment. I was stationed in Qatar for about nine months in 2017. I am currently still in the service and have about a year left. I am majoring in Sociology. With this major I have a few options for careers. Right now, I want to work in HR for either the government or an eclectic company. I believe there needs to be more people who will speak out on the many issues in corporate America and I think being in HR is one way for me to do just that.

If I am not working or swamped with homework, I am finding new things to explore in Kansas City, especially restaurants. I love trying new food and KC has quite a few hidden gems. I also spend time walking the trails in KC with my dog Xena. Since we do not have any mountains, walking trails are the closest thing to hiking I can do. I try to stay active as much as I can, even now, during these times. I just enjoy trying new experiences, whether it’s going to a new park, or tasting new food!

I am excited to be a part of the Women’s Center. I never worked with a staff that was all women. This will be new for me and I’m excited. I also know that working here is just one of the many ways I can advocate for Women’s rights. I know that doing this will educate me on how to be a better womanist. Which I know there is always room for improvement there.

New Intern Abbie: More Than Just a Cat Lady

By Abbie Lewis

I’m so excited to be a part of the Women’s Center, to help advocate for women, and be a part of fun programs to celebrate women everywhere. As a woman living in today’s society it’s super important, now more than ever, to stand up for what you believe in and fight for your rights. I think that being an intern for the Women’s Center at UMKC is a great way to do just that. 

I’m a super outdoorsy girl who loves to travel, hike, and play with my pets! I have a blue heeler named Otis and a cat named Oprah. Reading is also a passion of mine, specifically rereading Harry Potter repeatedly until I can recite it word for word! I play tennis from time to time and you can catch me at the pool all summer when there’s not a pandemic happening. I’m into all kinds of music, currently jamming on the new Glass Animals album. If you haven’t heard it I suggest you go to Spotify right now and download it, it’s amazing!

I’m very excited to be a part of the Women’s Center and thanks for letting me share a little bit about myself with you all!

Welcome Jordan Tunks to the Women’s Center Family!

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By Jordan Tunks

Hello! My name is Jordan Tunks and I am a senior here at UMKC. I will be graduating in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Health Sciences. I came from a small town of about 5,000 people, so UMKC was a big transition for me. Coming to school in a big city has opened my eyes to how much more is out there and how much more is going on in the world. This has helped me grow as a person, and taught me that there is so much more to fight for!

As an intern at the Women’s Center I look forward to learning how to properly and effectively fight for women’s rights. I hope to be able to fight for those who do not know how to, or cannot, fight for themselves. By the completion of my internship I also hope to be able to educate those who would like to participate but do not know how or where to.

After graduation I plan to get a job helping kids and young adults develop healthy lifestyles. Learning how to educate and advocate for women’s rights will help me become a better mentor for young women.

Hey Stranger, I’m Brianna!

By Brianna Green

Hello fellow Roos! My name is Brianna Green! I am a transfer student and this is my first semester at UMKC. I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and I came out here to finish my Bachelor’s in Psychology! I also plan to move on to a Master’s in Psychology after I complete my current program. I want to specialize in human sexuality and sex trauma. I chose UMKC because of all the opportunities I saw here. I feel like this is the first step and best place to reach my academic and career goals. Kansas City has been great so far and I’m excited to call this place my new home.

Additionally, I am thrilled to be a part of the Women’s Center! Being here feels like a great way to connect with campus, as well as my fellow Roos. It’s also very important to me that I’m a part of a place that is still doing its best to offer services and support to students during these unpredictable times. Pandemic aside, I’m excited to be in a position that allows me to support and empower my college colleagues.

April Brown Joins the Women’s Center as the New Blog Editor!

By April Brown

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year! My name is April Brown, I am 22 years old, and in my last semester of my undergraduate career at UMKC. I am majoring in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing as well as double minoring in Manuscript Editing and Print Culture and Writing. Writing has been my passion since I first learned to hold a pencil.  Artists are kind of bred in my family as my mother draws, my sisters paint and sketch respectively, and my brother is musically inclined. I found my home within the pages of a notebook. I used to feel inferior to my siblings because I was unable to create visual and auditory masterpieces the way they could, but in my senior year of high school it was pointed out to me by an English teacher that my ability to create was a combination of all things visual and auditory. I created whole worlds with my words.

I am excited to begin a new path after school, but I am also a little sad to know my time at UMKC is coming to an end. I can’t think of a better way to end it though, than by working for the UMKC Women’s Center. Not only does this opportunity open doors for me to start doing work that is extremely relevant for my career path and life choices, such as editing the blogs for the semester, but it also allows me to submerge myself in campus and community life with the events and programs we have planned this year! In a social climate such as the one we are living in now, there is no better time than now to become involved and learn more about the issues within your community.

There isn’t anything quite normal about this school year but I hope to use that uncertainty to shake up a few things in the name of progress, and the Women’s center is going to be a wonderful place to start such processes. I am beyond excited to start my new work with the Women’s Center, and with our community.

Emma Gilham Transfers to UMKC and Joins Women’s Center Staff

By Emma Gilham

Hello! I am Emma Gilham, a new transfer student here at UMKC. As I packed up my things to move, the notion of new beginnings swept over me. Summer break, along with quarantine, changed my perspective on many things. I previously attended Missouri S&T as an environmental engineering major. I knew I wanted to help people, and I had an idea of where I wanted my career to go. I simply couldn’t place which was the best route to achieve my goals. I want to work in communities to educate and advance the health and general well-being of its residents. With this clarity, I decided engineering school would not be the place to learn the tools necessary for this goal, and I transferred to UMKC to pursue a major in public health. I’ve always liked Kansas City, and I am excited to live here!

I have special interest in social justice, and the blogs I write will hopefully reflect that. This summer, I began addressing my own white-washed, patriarchal education and started the never-ending process of unlearning/relearning. While these failings jarred me at first, I look forward to continuing to learn and sharing topics pertaining to current woman’s and gendered issues. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to expand my understanding of intersectional feminism from my supervisors and colleagues through working for the Women’s Center.