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June 2 2017

Standing where Martin Luther King once stood, holding his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (June 2, 2017).

Pretty soon I’m going to begin my term as a member of the Student Advisory Council in AAUW (American Association of University Women). I will represent the branch (along with a few others) at Oakland University in Rochester, MI from July 1 till June 30 next year. For those who don’t know, AAUW is an organization that has promoted equity and education for girls and women since 1881. It’s a nationwide group and in retrospect, I’m a small cog in the machine. Nonetheless, it’s such an honor to be part of something bigger than myself.

It’s going to be an exciting year! I have several ideas for my term, and I hope that I can make positive impact on people’s lives. I can’t share my plans yet. I’m still in the process of ironing out the details and I have to talk it over with the rest of the council, of course. One thing I can say for sure, though, is that I want to create a greater sense of unity on campus, to make both men and women feel like they have somewhere to turn.

As much as we talk about social media making it easier to maintain relationships, too many people are lonely these days. That’s something that became apparent to me after NCCWSL (National Conference of College Women Student Leaders) in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. At the opening session, I became so overwhelmed by the connection I felt with all the women in the room and the outpouring of love and support that I started crying. And I wasn’t the only person who balled during that three-day conference.

I believe that right now it’s more important than ever to focus on the things we have in common and to celebrate each other’s differences. There’s so much fighting over political views these days that people seem to forget what is important. I won’t dwell too much on our president and his administration, because this isn’t about them: It’s about the future. It’s about optimism. As bad as greed and hatred is troubling our country, we have to keep in mind that it will pass. It will pass. Things will become better. We have to remember that through love, acceptance and unity, we can mold something beautiful out of the ugliness.

One of the lessons I took from the conference is that no matter who’s on top, people only have as much power as they let themselves believe. And you have power to create change in your neighborhood. You have a lot of power and you have more flexibility than the politicians out there, who let their actions be guided by votes and money. They got nothing on you, friend.

And remember, there is strength in numbers.

*

Bellow is the letter I wrote when I applied for the job:

My name is Anna Palm and I’m excited to provide my application for the open position in the Student Advisory Counsel.

As a new member of the American Association of University Women, I believe it would be a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the community and promote a more positive environment where women can feel safe and empowered to pursue their dreams. Besides it would be a blast!

I am working on my master’s in communication with a focus on media studies at Oakland University. It was in fact Valerie Palmer-Mehta who told me about the organization, and the people were warm and welcoming when I attended a meeting for the first time. Elaine Taylor and Josetta Wood have been attentive to my ideas regarding the sexual assault awareness month.

One was to create flyers that visually talk about victim blaming. They would show a person covering their own mouth and a line such as, “I don’t want to make it worse” or “Maybe I’m overreacting.”

Additionally to the issues created by rape culture, I care about women in STEM, women friendships and reproductive rights. As for women friendships, I have noticed that too often women fight amongst themselves or put each other down over petty differences. I would like to change that, starting with fun activities like trust building exercises, team art projects, panels or even founding a book club.

Reproductive rights is an obvious matter. I was born and raised in Sweden, where sex education is taught in the fifth grade, and where abortion has been legal and free since 1974. The woman doesn’t even have to offer the doctor a reason. It’s a foreign concept to me that such fundamental health rights should be denied to American citizens in the 21st century.           

As an adviser, I hope to create events and activities not only for AAUW members but men and women on campus as well. I hope to inspire kindness, open-mindedness, team work and creativity. I hope to work with a myriad of people who care about women and equality. I hope to achieve a sense of unity among my peers.

I would achieve this using my organizational skills, my knack for writing, research and social media, not to mention my sense of humor. Before I dove into academic research, I spent over four years working as a journalist (during my undergrad and post-graduation), gathering information through bits and pieces and telling people’s stories.

I also have a blog (authorajpalm.wordpress.com), where I talk about writing, poetry and journalism as well as women’s issues, feminism and events concerning women.

During an internship project in 2013, three students and I worked on a collection of stories about organic farming in Michigan. Our mentor Tracy Anderson left us mostly to our own devices. I assumed a leadership role in our group early on, because there were many factors to consider and no one was stepping up to the plate. As a result, Midland Daily News released our articles on December 16 and 17, 2013. The main story was a collaborative effort by the four of us.

In the past year, I’ve been practicing Shotokan karate and learning the value of trust and respect. My dojo (school) has an oath, which we state in union at the end of every class: “Dojo kun [karate oath]. Seek perfection of character. Be faithful. Endeavor. Respect others. Refrain from violent behavior.” With or without a belt, I believe this is a motto to live by.

Thank you for your time. Have a lovely day!

Regards,

            Anna Palm

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