In this realm of negativity and terrible news, I figured that I would share just a little gratitude with y’all!
I have had a very difficult time readjusting to school after my surgery recovery. However, there have been several wonderful developments lately that I want to share with y’all. I feel so grateful to have so many wonderful opportunities and to have the ability to pursue them. Without further ado, let’s see what I’ve been up to lately!
If you’ve been following this blog or my Instagram, you’ll know that I am currently interning as a Program Associate with Rural Forward NC (RFNC). I have been interning with them since mid-August, and I absolutely love it. Everyone there has really made me feel included and welcome. It doesn’t feel like going to work, but like going to hang out and work together with friends. I really believe that RFNC is a family, and I am just so excited to be part of that.
Anyways, I could go on for a whole post about the atmosphere of and the work that I am doing with RFNC. For now, though, I will just focus on last Friday for now.
⇾ Last Friday, I traveled to Winston-Salem with the two other interns and most of the RFNC group for a meeting with the Trust that houses the program. I was very nervous at first because it is intimidating as an intern to go into a meeting with people who have been doing this work for years in a professional sense. However, I could never have expected just how great it would end up being!
⇾ The wonderful, wonderful RFNC staff bought Starbucks coffee for me! (If you know me, you know how much I love my venti black coffees!)
⇾ We all got to ride in a minivan! There ended up being 3 interns, including me, and 3 full-time staff members in the van. It felt like a big family road-trip, although someone did correct me saying that it couldn’t be a family road-trip because we weren’t arguing enough! Plus, I love being a passenger and not having to drive!
⇾ The presentations that were given and the conversations that were had around me were easy for me to understand. Walking in with no prior knowledge on the majority of the topics covered, I was worried that I would be really lost or that I would be in the all-too-familiar situation of having people be irritated or condescending with me. However, everyone just automatically included basic background knowledge and spoke at a level that I could understand and follow.
⇾ We were put into small groups for discussions, and I ended up in a group with some pretty influential people to discuss power in the communities. They were all talking together, which was very interesting and helped me develop my understanding of where people in the group were coming from, but I didn’t know if I was supposed to be saying anything. When the conversation lulled, though, I decided to throw out some comments of my own. I figured that either it would go well or I could grab the bowl of chocolate in the hall and hide until it was time to leave. It ended up going very well and people seemed pleasantly surprised with my insights. It made me feel really great to know that my input was valued and respected. I felt very empowered to speak more throughout the meeting after that!
⇾ We got to ride back in the minivan! I felt like I really got to bond with one of the other interns during the trip, and overall that it was just a wonderful trip.
⇾ It was also my supervisor’s birthday, so let’s immortalize it here:
Happy birthday, Jessica! We haven’t been working together for very long, but I think that we have definitely bonded a lot already. I really appreciate your patience and understanding towards me, and your efforts to help me grow, not only as just an intern or a professional, but as a person. Thank you so much for helping me feel welcomed and valued at Rural Forward NC. I look forward to working more with you throughout the rest of my time as a Program Associate, and to hopefully working with you again in the future!
Study Abroad: Ireland
While I was sitting in that meeting with the Trust on Friday, I got an email that I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for: my official acceptance from University College Cork (UCC) as an exchange student for the spring semester!
I recently applied to be an exchange student at UCC in Ireland for the spring, and I was cautiously optimistic about my chances. It’s a very competitive program with only 4 exchange student spots available for the spring semester. I found out on September 19 that I had been nominated by NC State for one of those spots, but I had to wait for the official acceptance from UCC. However, I was told that it probably wouldn’t appear until mid-October, so I was not expecting it only 10 days later!
I feel so amazing about this, and there will definitely be many more updates to come. In fact, I may be working with a blogging program while I am abroad, so make sure that you stay on the lookout for that!
As if last Friday wasn’t already going well enough, I ended the evening with another email in my inbox.
If you’ve been around for a while, or have just looked through my past posts, you may know that I went to a disability-focused symposium in Seattle, Washington last March. The DO-IT Center with the University of Washington at Seattle was involved in that symposium, and they are hosting another conference in December.
I applied to attend the conference, but did not expect to be invited because it is focused more towards larger groups and education and research centers (ERCs). So, I really didn’t expect to get an email inviting me to book my flights to and from Seattle!
In December, I will be out in Seattle focusing on learning strategies and exchanging ideas for “recruiting and supporting individuals at ERCs and making websites and other products accessible to people with disabilities.” I will also be learning about “disability culture, the history of disability rights, and framing disability as a component of diversity.”
Honestly, I get so surprised every time that I get invited to these events, even when I’ve applied. I don’t know if I’m more surprised that people are inviting me to these events when I am only an undergraduate student, or if I’m more surprised that people keep inviting me back to these conferences after they meet and get to know me!
Moving past Friday now (I know, weird, right?), to Saturday and Sunday!
Last Saturday night, NC Pride took to the streets of downtown Raleigh.
Okay, it really only took to one street.
Okay, it really only took to like 3 blocks of one street.
It was a relatively sad festival, especially when compared to Charlotte Pride that I attended in August. However, it had one redeeming quality: a drag show.
That’s right. I went to a drag show. Even stranger, I left my apartment at night and didn’t get home until 3:00am on Sunday because I went to a drag show at Imurj downtown.
I went with Margaret and we found some people that we knew, especially a lot of people from the campus GLBT Center. It was absolutely wonderful. I’ve never been to a drag show before, and I don’t often leave my apartment to socialize, but I had a super great time!
The drag show was very exciting, and the performers made it such a fun space to be in. I will definitely be attending the next drag show! (Although I will be taking an Uber because I’m not about to pay $7 to park several blocks away and then have to walk back to my car in the wee hours of the morning!)
NC State Diversity Awareness
As a student leader for the Allies for Students with Disabilities (ASD), a diversity organization, I get so many opportunities to join in on amazing projects and awareness opportunities.
⇾ I was recently approached by students from the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) Diversity Digest about an interview for their e-newsletter. They wanted to help raise awareness for the ASD and its goals, so naturally I agreed. I would love to extend my thanks to the writer, the photographer, and the Diversity Digest as a whole for creating and running this piece. I am so happy with how it came out, and I hope that we get some new members from it! I’ll be thrilled, though, if even just one person who didn’t know about us reads it and goes, “Huh, now I know that this resource exists!” If you want to read the piece, check it out here!
⇾ In the past few days, I also was asked to be in a video for an anti-hate initiative. I don’t know how much I can share just yet, but there will definitely be more information to come once that project is complete and public! If you follow my blog Instagram, you’ve seen this photo from during the filming!
I don’t say any of this to brag, but to speak to how grateful I am.
I am so overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for these opportunities. Even just last year, I definitely wouldn’t have imagined being here and having all of these opportunities present themselves. I feel so lucky that I have been able to be involved with each and every one of these.
I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has been a part in these opportunities and who has been a part of helping me get to a point where I feel confident enough in myself to pursue these opportunities. Between my RFNC family, my apartment family, and my NC State families, I feel so lucky to have people pushing me to be better and to take advantage of new opportunities that come my way!
Thank you so much if you’ve read down this far! Honestly, I’m surprised that I’ve written down this far! This is just such a long post. I’m exhausted just looking at the word count!
I’ve been writing this for a few days now, and I’m somehow finishing it now when my wonderful girlfriend is only sitting a few feet away from me. Why didn’t I finish this before she got here so I could focus on spending time with her instead of editing this post? That is an excellent question. I guess it’s because she is one of the parts of my life that I am so very grateful for and she makes me feel like I can be a better person. It wouldn’t feel right putting this whole post together without including her! (Also, I’m a college student so procrastination is one of my number one skills!)
The song for your mind to fixate on today is this! Enjoy!