A final post: Reflecting on life as a NARAL representative at JMU

By Sarah Hogg, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at James Madison University. Feel free to email Sarah or connect with her on Twitter @SarahLovely.

I have been NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s Campus Representative Intern at James Madison University since January 2013. In one week, I’m graduating from James Madison with four years of academics and activism under my belt. My time with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has shaped my undergraduate career in an incredibly unique and profound way unlike any other organization, campus group, or campaign I’ve been involved with. I’m finding it difficult to even choose what I want to write about in this final blog post—there’s so much I want to say.

I am deeply proud of the reproductive justice work my volunteer team and I have done at James Madison over the past two and a half years. The past two semesters have been my favorites—during this school year, we campaigned for Democratic Senate candidates and encouraged students to vote in favor of women’s health rights, we testified at the Virginia State Assembly in an attempt to push pro-choice bills past subcommittee, we rallied in Richmond to support the Health Commissioner in her decision to reform TRAP laws, we created a comprehensive birth control resource guide as a resource for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia that focuses on intersectionality and amplifying diverse voices in this movement, we honored National Day of Abortion Providers by making our annual letter writing campaign to Virginia abortion providers bigger and better, and we engaged in numerous solidarity-building events to grow our community and foster relationships, such as movie nights, pro-choice coffee hours, and social media conversations.

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t elaborate on the amazing work my NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia volunteers do here on James Madison University’s campus. Even though I’m the Campus Representative Intern, I would be one hundred percent lost without the support of countless pro-choice feminist activists at JMU. I could not, and cannot, do this work alone, and the support of my team over the past two and a half years has been truly remarkable and deserving of a huge amount of praise. For my friends and activists who have been by my side since January 2013, and for my friends and activists who just joined the movement this semester, you all are wonderful and I thank you immensely from the bottom of my heart.

I am a completely different person because of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. When I first signed on as an intern two and a half years ago, I had just finished work on President Obama’s reelection campaign and was itching to do more for my community. I was just starting to get my feet wet in the reproductive justice movement by volunteering for my local Planned Parenthood, and I knew I wanted to go further—I just had no idea how far I would go. I truly found a home with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia where I could develop my leadership skills and feminist identity with a group of amazing people who accepted me and always pushed me to be the best advocate possible.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has empowered me to use my strength to advocate for others and helped me find my voice and place in the reproductive justice movement. Through my work with NARAL Pro-Choice VA, I found my greatest passion, and I now know that I want to dedicate my life to reproductive justice work. As I graduate from James Madison University and begin my career, I will always keep NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia close to my heart as my home base and the place that allowed me to blossom as an activist. This isn’t so much of a goodbye, but a see you later—thank you for everything.

 

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