Coming Together to Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) can be found all around the world, and our High Point community is not excluded. The violence we typically see in the media typically is against women and girls. That is not to say that there is not violence against men or boys—but the focus of this blog and the current event is women and girls because they are the most common victims. Around the globe there are communities coming together at the national and local levels to combat this violence against women by creating and supporting programs that allow victims and survivors of violence to receive legal assistance and medical treatment (both physical and mental). Some of these programs also allow the survivors of violence find safe spaces, which is incredibly encouraging. More people in places of power are beginning to recognize that the violence stems from gender inequalities in which women usually find themselves as the inferior of the genders. So there are also some programs that are being formed to inform others what the underlying social problem is, which will hopefully encourage others to join the movement to make women equal to men in all aspects.

At the YWCA’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC), my boss is able to help her clients find jobs to financially empower the women who are trying to get back on their feet or to leave a threatening and harmful home environment. At the WRC I am able to step in and help women at the Career Closet, which allows women to obtain professional clothing for their job interviews or their job. My primary role at the YWCA WRC is to help plan events and workshops that will financially and emotionally empower women. One of the bigger events I helped coordinate was during Domestic Violence Awareness week, and I was able to gather shirts for people to write on that had messages stating that they want domestic violence to end as well as how women are indeed equal and should be treated as such. There was also a vigil held in memory of those who fell victim to domestic violence. The vigil was successful and it allowed people to recognize how common it is in our own backyard.

Over time I do believe that GBV on all spectrums will come to cease. Once institutions and socialization change there will be hope for women and girls. It is already beginning to happen by empowering girls at a young age and empowering women in all facets of life. It all starts with us, today!

Source: http://www.globalissues.org/news/2017/03/24/23011

 

 

Leadership: My Definition & My Inspirations

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” –Tom Peters

Often, people look at leaders as people who guide a group of followers to the desired destination. While this is true, that is only one form of leadership. The type of leadership I aspire to is creating more leaders who may even surpass me. That is what leadership is all about–getting to one level, turning around, and helping other people get to your level and beyond. There are a number of people who have shaped my ideas of leadership, but the one that currently stands out the most is Dr. Jenn Brandt. I have written about her in the past, I know, but that is just how much she has impacted my life. Dr. Brandt is involved in numerous organizations that fight for equal rights for all. She has made her way to the top of the ladder, and she is now helping her students, including myself, become better leaders in our communities. She is the embodiment of what I believe good leadership is and I am so honored to have her as one of my mentors at High Point University. Moreover, as a Bonner Leader, I have been able to practice this leadership style. I have made my way up a few ladders, and in the process of reaching a new level, I have turned around to help others climb those same ladders. I try my best to create more leaders that could very well do amazing things that I can’t even imagine. It makes me happy to know that paying it forward on a new level via leadership is incredibly exciting and I cannot wait to see how this cascade of leadership can and will shape the future.

Forsyth Animal Shelter Rabies Clinic

Today, October 22nd, I volunteered at the Forsyth Animal Shelter Rabies Clinic. My task was relatively easy. I helped fill out Rabies Certificates and instruct people where to take their furry family member for their vaccinations. However, I realized today that I was doing much more than just writing and giving instructions–I was getting to know the people we were serving and they gave me their trust. I know how silly that sounds, but by being personable and getting to know them, even through small talk about the weather, they were opening up to me about the smallest details of their lives. One couple sat there and talked to me about the animals they have rescued in the past and how they feel that it was their purpose on this Earth. They always made sure the animals found good homes and they made sure the animals were and will be well taken care of. Another couple were shivering and they gave me their hands to feel to show me just how cold they were. I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t get a good vibe from someone, then I wouldn’t even think about letting them touch my hands. It was kind of comforting to know that complete strangers could read my body language and automatically knew I was trustworthy and cared about them and their pet(s).

So, I was able to sit down and reflect on the service I completed today. I know that my task was simple, but I was able to help hundreds of families get the proper care for their pet(s) and made some new friends along the way. And to me, connecting to the people I serve or who serve along with me is one of the most rewarding and best feelings ever.

How I Tackled Spring ’16 Finals

IMG_3492Finals week: a week every student dreads. I typically dread it as well; however, this time around I did not panic and pull all-nighters to prepare for my finals. In fact, I did the exact opposite, and I passed! I wanted to share some of the things that I did that allowed me to be successful during finals week.

1. Study Hard Throughout the Semester (Not just the night before a final)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we hear this all the time. But do we act on it? Not usually. This time around I did, and guess what…it WORKED. Every homework assignment I completed, I made sure that I understood the material. If I didn’t understand the material, I would make sure I learned it well before any test. I would try my best to review the material every other week to keep it fresh in my brain. Eventually when finals came around I was able to just review the material and complete practice problems to target any areas I was still struggling with.

2. Online Tutoring Sites

My schedule is usually full, which makes it hard for me to go to my professor’s office hours, so I had to find online sources that could help me learn how to apply new concepts to problems. The two I used the most were ClutchPrep.com and KhanAcademy.org. They are amazing resources and I 100% recommend them. I learned so much by using their services and I am grateful for them because, obviously, they are flexible with my hectic schedule. They helped me out so much when it came to studying for finals. They cover the material flawlessly and I could not ask for better online programs.  (ClutchPrep focuses on the basic pre-medicine science courses like biology, chemistry, etc.)

3. No All-Nighters

All-nighters were not a thing for me during finals week. I need my sleep, all humans need sleep no matter what you may tell yourself. No grade is worth your health. I tried my best to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep throughout the semester, and during finals week I tried to get at least 5-6 hours of sleep, even before the day of the final. Sleep is very important to me; I have learned the hard way that if I do not sleep, then I won’t perform my best. Being awake during classes, and being alert during a final is key. (P.S. I do stay up pretty late at times, but I try to not make staying up past 12am a habit.)

4. Write Down Goals in Plain Sight

In my dorm room I have a white board and on this white board I wrote down my goals for final grades. Every morning I looked at them and it reminded me what I was working towards. It may seem silly, but it helps out a lot, especially on those days where you feel discouraged.

5. Have Confidence in Yourself

I can honestly say that this is the hardest thing to do. It has taken me a while to learn how to have confidence in myself and acknowledge the fact that I am more than capable  of accomplishing my goals. When I studied for my finals I told myself that I know the material and told myself to not panic. When I walked into the class 30 minutes before the final I quietly reviewed the material and kept reminding myself that I knew the material that would be on the final. I told myself to have confidence. When my friends in class kept freaking out about the exam and said that they were going to fail I was the one to remind them that they were going to do fine and that they shouldn’t worry so much. Your attitude and the confidence you have in yourself plays such a big role in whether you succeed or fail.

There you have it. Those are the five things I did this semester to succeed in my classes, and most importantly, how I survived finals week.

Food Alliance Reflection

“Dr. Qubein talks about planting seeds of greatness in our hearts, souls and minds.

Matt Thiel, chairman of the Greater High Point Food Alliance, echoed not only planting seeds to grow and flourish ourselves but also taking care of the seeds of others to enable them to grow as well.

Think of someone from your community partner site or someone you’ve met in your role as a Bonner. Who has invested in enriching your seed? Whose seed have you played a role in to grow?”


 

I have met a number of people who have influenced my life greatly during my time as a Bonner Leader. Two people who have continued to water my seed of service and civic engagement are Shannon Barr and Dr. Jenn Brandt. They have taken a lot of time out of their schedule to meet with me and help me find great opportunities that range from connecting me with someone they know, to helping me plan large events.

Being a mentor is incredibly important not only for them, but for the mentee. As their mentee, I have been able to sharpen and refine my skills. I have gained more confidence in myself as an individual. Shannon and Jenn have taught me to take pride in my accomplishments and to not downplay my achievements, but they have also taught me to stay humble and help others. They may have not vocalized it, but through their actions they have taught me how to be a better leader

As a leader, I am still growing. I am currently in the works of planning a few events on and off campus. Through the help of Shannon and Jenn I am able to get different perspectives and ideas into the mix that will make these events amazing. Moreover, as a leader, I have been able to give back and help those next in line. A great example is helping future HPU students navigate campus, and give them advice about the pre-medicine world. I hope to help them thrive as students at HPU and in the city, and become the best version of themselves that they can be. I am also helping any other pre-health student find great opportunities through HOSA, and I honestly feel great that I can help someone become a better student, and person.

2016 Newman Civic Fellow

On March 30th I received an email stating that I have been awarded the 2016 Newman Civic Fellows Award, and I am honored. I attached some information about this honorable award below:

“The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world.  The Newman Civic Fellows Awards are made possible through the generous support of the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform. Frank Newman’s leadership was selfless, optimistic, and determined, spanning an incredible career of more than five decades. At the core of Dr. Newman’s leadership was a belief in the power of individuals to make a difference and in the power of connection with others. Newman Civic Fellows form a unique network of leaders who will inspire and keep hope alive for one another during college and afterward, as the network expands exponentially each year. Frank Newman had a tremendous impact on American education and its role in the development of citizens who want to make a difference. The Newman Civic Fellows are reflections and affirmations of his life’s work.”
(http://compact.org/initiatives/awards-programs/the-frank-newman-leadership-award/)

I hope to make great connections through this new opportunity, and I hope to gain new ideas to bring back to campus and the community! Read more about my Newman Civic Fellows Award here: http://compact.org/newman-civic-fellow/melanie-maldonado/

Social Justice: Taking on Different Perspectives and Creating Solutions

 

I have always been passionate about equality since I was a child. The Bonner Leader Program has watered this seed and it grows more and more each week. Working at the YWCA of High Point has allowed me to help my colleagues combat systemic social issues. Our discussions during our Bonner meetings also allow me to voice my opinions and experiences and even propose certain ideas that can blossom into a solution. Also, the MLK Day of Service projects that second year Bonners plan definitely have expanded my horizons on social justice issues.

I am settling into my job at the YWCA. I have been given a lot more responsibilities, which include planning Women in Transition Workshops and other empowering events for women of the community. In these workshops, we like to target systemic social issues such as poverty and unemployment and create programs that will help women get to the next level. We host resume workshops that will help women get a job, and we also host budgeting workshops that help women learn how to budget their expenses.

Through working at the YWCA, I have encountered individuals who are victims of systemic social issues. These issues had to be faced and solved. I am constantly trying to find ways that I can advocate for fairness and equality for all. I am always searching for ideas that will help the YWCA members and I am currently in the beginning stages of planning a donation drive for the Career Closet and Baby Basics Closet. By helping other women with basic need for herself and/or her child, we can slowly make an impactful difference in the community.

During our Bonner meetings, we typically talk about important social issues that we are all passionate about. Our Bonner Coordinator VISTA has workshops to help us find ways to advocate for our passions, and we share them if we so please to. Whenever Bonners share their passions and ideas for change, my horizons broaden. I begin to learn about other social justice issues that intersect with each other. It is mind opening and it helps me look at things from another angle. Perspective is incredibly important when it comes to coming up with solutions because it allows you to step outside of the box and look at all of the components.

I was inspired by completing social justice workshops. For the 2016 MLK Service Project I hosted a documentary screening and discussion panel. This was my way of promoting awareness of poverty in the High Point Community. Through the discussion panel, I even learned a lot about the burdens of poverty from community members. I learned that there are houses that people live in that don’t have running water. I learned that some people on the discussion panel have relatives that are affected even though they have a college degree and full time job. I learned that almost everyone struggles on a daily basis, even though they work hard.

By learning so much through all of my experiences as being a Bonner Leader, I am able to take all of these perspectives and create programs that advocate for social justice. I know that I am only one person, but all it takes is one person to create change, and inspire others to join in on combating systemic social issues.

CSNAP Conference

CSNAPNovember 7, 2015 I attended the CSNAP Conference hosted at UNC Pembroke with a few other Bonner Leaders.  We were expecting to attend the traditional conference with multiple workshops. However, we were surprised to hear we were going to be trained in sustained dialogue. At first it was a bit questionable, but in the end it was a great experience!  I learned the differences between having a discussion, debate, and dialogue*. It is interesting to have learned that I have been involved in many dialogues and not knowing I was. I thought I was merely participating in discussions in regard to social justice issues.

I believe this is an important training for leaders to participate in. It allowed me to realize how our social identity can make a huge impact when it comes to dialogues. I was aware of people’s social identities and how to be respectful of our differences and similarities, but this training allowed me to realize that social identities can make large impacts on the person’s decision to participate or not. If someone feels unsafe, they will most likely not participate. Not only that, but some things you may say can come out with good intentions but may offend someone because of their social identity. To me the entire concept made me realize that I need to be more wary of how I say certain ideas and thoughts because I want to make sure everyone I talk to feels safe around me.

In the end, this training was beneficial to me as a leader. I am now much more aware of how I set up the atmosphere for a dialogue. With dialogues we can all participate, and we can create an action plan and proceed to make a significant impact on our community!

*Below is a chart detailing the differences between dialogue, discussion, and debate. There are
times & settings when each of these modes of communication is effective and appropriate, 
and times when they are counterproductive.
Source: http://sustaineddialogue.org/wp-content/uploads/Students-Learn-to-Initiate.pdf

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Free Haircuts to the Homeless

Below is a video that gives me hope for our homeless population in America. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. This serves as a reminder that a lot of what we have is a privilege, and we should continue to do as much as we can to give back to our surrounding communities. Kudos to that Boston salon for making a difference in these women’s lives!

New Beginnings, Same Passions

Becoming a Bonner Leader is one of the greatest things that has happened to me. I have always been eager to help others, and through the Bonner Leader Program I can do just that. I decided to continue participating in the Bonner Program because it has expanded my horizons in regard to service and how we can help our local communities. This program has helped me develop and refine my leadership skills that I apply to my daily tasks. Not only that, but I just love completing service for others. I love knowing that people in the High Point community will benefit from the work that we all put in as a Bonner family. We have accomplished great things, and we are only getting started.

This academic year is going to be amazing in regard to being a Bonner Leader. My site is at the YWCA in the Women’s Resource Center and we are brainstorming new projects that will benefit the members. I have so many great ideas that I think will help women and youth in this community. My goal this year is to help set up at least one new program during this awesome transition in the YWCA. The lovely ladies at the YWCA received donations and grants to reconstruct the facility to better serve the community, and we are also looking into improving, changing, and adding new programs. I cannot wait to see the results in the future!

I am also grateful to be a Bonner because I have formed great friendships with the other Bonners and with the people I work with at the YWCA. It is great knowing we all have the same passion to do great things; also, it amazes me how much we can get done through our passions for helping others. I cannot wait to see everything that we will accomplish this year.