I’m Only Human

 

I did a LOT of research when I first decided I wanted to go to law school. Like, obsessive amounts of it. And I think I needed to. I planned for every option I was interested in, found places that would accommodate my husband’s academic interests and then found schools where I would thrive, but also where I would be challenged. I went big-picking places I’d always wanted to go, places I never thought to look at, places I wasn’t sure I’d love but thought I’d try anyway.

I applied to a college in Kansas, Ohio and two in Washington (state). Ohio was my “not sure I’d love” school; Kansas, my “never thought to look at”; and the two in Washington, my “I’d love to go”. It was a journey getting accepted, to be sure. So when I found myself in a pressure zone, I applied one more time. This time, to a place I never even bothered to look at, because it was lower on the rankings, it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever heard of and I thought I’d hate it. Wouldn’t you know it, they were the place I accepted an offer from?

So I took a chance. They took one on me, I might as well return the favor. And so a new wave of research took me over. What were they like? Did they cater to their students? Would I fit in? Drawbacks? And I began making calls to apartments.

No one said anything bad.

And that’s not to say that I expected them to, but I’ve been looking into American Gothic stories and seriously-it began to sound like a cult. “The school is so wonderful.” “I have a relative who went there.” “We just love the school.” “The school has done so much for us.” And the list goes on like that. That’s the thing. I wasn’t expecting “Oh it’s terrible. You’ve made a mistake.” But EVERYONE had something nice to say. And they said it. You’d think *someone* would have just said nothing, but no. And a little flag popped up in my head. Maybe I was jumping into something WAY over my head.

So I did more research.

And either I drank the Koolaid, have fallen under the curse or something mundane, I have actually come to love the idea of moving there.

They have a chocolate festival, a library that’s decorated as giant classic books, a lantern festival (like floating lanterns-like in Tangled) and it’s in the capital, but it’s a fraction as populated as the one here. Plus, they have trees-a luxury I am currently not afforded.

Each time I get nervous about it (and it happens quite a bit), I sing “Defying Gravity” to myself. And it’s kinda fitting, but more so, I need that reminder that the only thing holding me back is me. It’s my choice to “close my eyes and leap”.

Now, when I announced I was going there, a good many people came to me and told me I was making a mistake. And while that could be true, the reasons were pretty limited to “it’s so far away” and “their political action right now is very damning”. And I have had some time to come up with responses.

First-I know it’s far away. That’s what I wanted. I want to see the world. I’ve lived in the same state my whole life, never seeing much of anywhere else. That doesn’t set me up to help people, does it? And my parents were both from Ohio, met in Colorado and then came back. My husband’s dad was from Ohio, met hubby’s mom in Arizona and came back. Wandering is in my blood-and there’s no way I’m letting other people run my life. I’m too old for that and I don’t have enough time for it anymore.

Second-there is a kids movie called Robots  (with Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams, may he rest in peace) in which a single line pops up repeatedly: “See a need, fill a need.” I knew from a very young age that I was meant to change the world. That sounds crazy, but it’s something I have never truly doubted. I thought I was meant to do that through medicine, but it was justice. And although I’ve had several talks with myself about my capabilities, I know that I can do this. So yes. Each state has their problems right now. Does that mean I should move in with my parents and hide away from the world until someone fixes it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. If I see something needs fixed and I have the ability to do so then it quits becoming a concern and starts becoming a duty. So while I know I’m moving to a pretty conservative red state, maybe I’m meant to change the world starting with them. And if this is but a stepping stone, I’ll have gained some lessons at the very least.

I saw a post in a Facebook group about the Bill Cosby case being a lesson in rape culture. The response was “if I had been on the jury….” and while I appreciate the sentiment, being on a jury isn’t the only way to make change. Being a lawyer isn’t the only way to make change.

It’s our duty as citizens of the world to be passionate. To be passionately involved, to be passionately informed.

Change is hard. Life is hard. But if we all pitch in, at least we’re all together.

69 Days

We’re in the countdown stages now, folks. Ben and I are moving across the country in just 69 days. And I’m starting to wonder what I was thinking. Not in the “reconsidering everything” way, but rather in the “is that even enough time to redo everything” way. FOr better or worse, our lease is up in 70 days and we’ve already filled out the “intent to vacate” form. So where does that leave us?

Well, in a time of great transition, apparently. Both of us have a very busy summer ahead, and it’s all for the sake of making our move smoother. We’ll be traveling nearly 800 miles to relocate in yet another college town (albeit, one that’s 6 times smaller than the one we live in now). I’ve used Google StreetView enough to realize that it’s nothing like I’ve been expecting-and that that’s okay. I knew when I applied to places that I wanted a change, and that’s precisely what I got.

Anyway, I’ve also begun reaching out to people to ask if they’d like to meet up one last time. And I’m making a couple journeys to my hometown for similar reasons, but on the whole, it’s time to break away.

When I was in high school, I told everyone that I’d leave Ohio and I’d never ever come back. I was so full of hostility towards the state that I couldn’t see ever staying here. And yet, 6 years later, I’m only just preparing to leave. And that’s okay. My intentions, although not at all as furious as before, have not changed. My parents are both from this area, but they met out in the west. Ben and I met here and we’re off to the west as well. Not because I feel a sense of destiny to our pending location, but because I need to go.

I had a hard time explaining to Ben why it was that we needed to leave Ohio. I explained it poorly for the first several times. (He wasn’t opposed to the idea, he just didn’t know why I was so insistent on it.) I’ve never been out of Ohio for longer than a small family visit every now and then. I’ve made stops in the surrounding areas: WV, TN and I’ve even been to MI, NC and TX (we flew). But never more than just a few days, as I said. And when I proposed Seattle (not where we’re headed, however), Ben didn’t quite understand why I desperately needed to go to a place I’d never even seen. So I’m going to try and explain it to you. Thankfully, it’s more coherent that it was the first few times.

I’ll be honest, I feel a little lost. Like I don’t really belong here. I’ve felt that way for many years. Like being at a friend’s house and knowing you’re not home, but staying there for a long time. It’s warm and inviting, you never feel like an intrusion, but ultimately, you feel an increasing need to move on. One day, you finally can’t take it anymore, and you announce you’re ready to go home. But your home was burned down, and that’s why you’d been staying with them. You know that the place you belong is somewhere, but now you have no idea where it is. You just want to find it and be at peace.

That’s how it feels.

I struggle a lot with the idea of destiny. I flip between feeling worthless and feeling destined for greatness. Especially when reality sets in and I have to look at all the choices I’ve made as a pathway to where I am now. Surely, the amount of struggle means that I’m going to do something great, that I’m going to change the world, right? But in the end, that’s not a guarantee. I can work towards it, and I am, but it may not happen. So what then? Because I’ll be honest, some days it feels like I’m needlessly suffering if I can’t change everything.

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So in these next 69 days, I’m going to be working on my manifestation skills, honing them into reshaping the way I think. I will be big.

That’s what a friend and I’d been talking about lately. How we only ask the universe for the things that we desperately need and no more. But it’s never really working in our favor. Because we weren’t born to be timid and weak and hushed. We were born to be wild and courageous and loud. So I’m done asking for the bare minimum. I want the world. I want all of it-the good, the bad, the happy, the frustrating-all of it. Not because I am entitled to it, but because I am stardust and if I can make universes, surely I can be big enough to change my own destiny.

The Revolution…..ary.

 

I had a post made up for yesterday, talking about the end of an era, the decline of the democracy and I didn’t post it. Why? Because if I let myself, I’m a very negative person. So, I’ve decided to focus on the positives-even today. Especially today.

Today ends some things, sure. That is a fact that is not removed just because I do not like it (take note, politicians!). Today is the beginning of something.

The revolution.

Now, just in case you were curious, here is the Google definition of the word.

“A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.”

This is as good of a definition as any, I think. I’m not talking about the demagogue (a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.-Google) but “We the people”.

Instead of being doom and gloom, I’m plotting a course for action.

You see, everything I love about the world is on the verge of being overcome by everything that is bad. And not just the things that impact me, but the things that impact others. One of the lessons I heard as a child was “The world is too big to revolve around such a small person”. And that is true. But one raindrop raises the sea.

So for now, all I wanted to offer was encouragement.

I see you. You are valuable. You have worth. You are valid. You are irreplaceable. You have a purpose. You are necessary. You are not a mistake.

Love will overcome.

We will overcome.

I stand for the people. Liberty and justice for ALL.

~M

The List of Buckets

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(Image from Google, Karen Boyes. I don’t own it-it was just cute.)

I have a hundred things on my mind right now, but that means that the best thing I could do is write down my bucket list. Not only had I mentioned I would earlier, but I most of the stuff on my mind has to do with that, so why not!

Now, I’m not sure any of you need the definition of a bucket list, but for sanity’s sake-A bucket list is a list of things that the individual would like to accomplish before they “kick the bucket” (die). And here’s mine.

  1. Whale watching
  2. Cliff Diving
  3. Learn to ice skate
  4. Learn to surf
  5. Swim in a waterfall
  6. Slow dance in the rain
  7. Witness a miracle
  8. Visit Canada
  9. Save a life
  10. Visit Ireland
  11. Visit England
  12. Visit Scotland
  13. Help turtles hatch and reach the ocean
  14. Be the starfish girl
  15. Eat pasta in Italy
  16. Eat bread in France
  17. See the Great Barrier Reef
  18. See Stonehenge
  19. Venetian gondola ride
  20. Get published
  21. Learn guitar
  22. Stand in the Sistine Chapel
  23. See the Mona Lisa in person
  24. Have lunch with a famous person
  25. See the Northern Lights
  26. Stand in a phone booth
  27. See Platform 9 ¾
  28. Visit Forks, WA
  29. Ride in Hot Air Balloon
  30. Zorbing
  31. Kiss under Mistletoe
  32. Live by the ocean
  33. Learn to scuba
  34. Make the perfect cup of coffee
  35. Learn how to make latte art
  36. Be fearless
  37. Own a 1967 Chevy Impala
  38. Make epic, award worthy cosplay
  39. Perfect cat eye
  40. Go fire walking
  41. Read a book in something other than English
  42. Visit every museum and zoo in the state I live in
  43. Visit Cueva de los Manos
  44. Leave a note in Juliet’s Wall
  45. Make someone smile more often than cry
  46. Be invited to a PowWow
  47. Stop worrying
  48. Stop micromanaging
  49. New Orleans Mardi Gras
  50. Swim with dolphins
  51. See Heaven’s Trail
  52. Give Christmas to a children’s hospital
  53. Replace my wardrobe with clothes I actually like
  54. Repay all the kindnesses
  55. Change the world

I know there are more-I’m just not entirely sure I could remember anything else. (Clearly haven’t mastered that perfect coffee haha!) But I think this is a pretty solid list-and I’m going to get started on it right away.

I’ll let you in on a secret.

I’m tired of people telling me what I do and do not know, what I need to do to know things, how much I’m allowed to know. I’ve spent the last two decades being told I can never know everything, but being held accountable for everything regardless, only to find that every year or so, what I know is obsolete information. I may never meet the standards of knowing. But I’m ready for something else. If after 20 years knowing things doesn’t make me happy, I’ve got to change things. So these next twenty years aren’t going to be “knowing” years-they’re going to be “experience” years. I’m gonna do things, see things, live things. So that when I get to the next fork in the road, the only thing I’ll know is myself.

I Chose,Therefore I Am

(I started this a couple days ago, so the timing is off, but all still as true as when it was actually happening in situ.)

I’d mentioned that my absence recently was due to the wedding (my brother!) but I haven’t really gotten a chance to develop all the things which occurred from then til now, so I think today is an excellent day to do so. Plus, I’m trying positive thinking instead of letting myself get bounced around by “crap”.

The mother of the bride is has the same name as I do, and because I was officiating/helping and she was organizing/planning, Michele/Michelle was on everyone’s lips. Within a day, I was quite sure I’d get whiplash from turning my head to look at someone who wanted “the other one” instead of me-so I told everyone to call me, Misha and let her take our name. And they did. I mean, it was all part of my grand scheme to take over the world. I’m kidding. My neck just couldn’t take the constant movement and I wasn’t sure I wanted that much demand on me anyway. I picked Misha because it’s just the first half of my first name. It’s simple, I’d respond to it, and I really thought it would help. Turns out, it absolutely did.

Misha Collins’ real name is Dmitri. His mother thought Misha was a nickname for it and called him that. The name stuck. Without going on a complete rant about how fantastic he is, I just thought I’d talk about the pertinent bits. Misha is quoted as saying:

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Anyway, the point is, the man exudes confidence. And in a time when my whole life feels like quick sand, I need that.

The first time I felt confident in myself was as a freshman in high school. I was in a play called Wagon Wheels A’Rollin and I played Clementine-fiery law enforcer. I dyed my hair copper, brought my own spin to her and I felt proud of my work. Then I acted in Little Women, as the nurse maid. I did my best Irish accent and afterwards, someone came up to me and asked me where I was from, and if I could “say something”. I asked (in my normal voice) what they wanted me to say and it was then that they asked if I was an exchange student and then complimented me on my abilities. Despite my frustrating shyness, acting is a blast for me. I love the adrenaline of it all.

But anyway, back to the story.

So I spent all weekend at my parent’s house, being myself (which I’d missed) and being called Misha. (My parents just went along with it-I’m a grown ass woman, but they know I’m just being me the only way I know how). And when I came home after it, I tried to get back in the swing of things, and on Friday I got word that I wasn’t selected to finish my IMADTTO project. All day Saturday, I waited for an email I knew wasn’t coming. The one that said “We made a mistake and want you to present your project!” And on Sunday, when I could face it no longer, I needed a change. I needed to take charge of my life and be in control of something.

I picked gender norms. Of course I picked gender norms.

So I got a foot of my hair taken off. I wore my makeup too dark and felt that for the first time, I didn’t have to care what other people thought-because I’d already “stuck it to them”. I’ve always heard that it’s womanly and feminine to have long hair on your head, shaved legs and underarms, waxed eyebrows. Those are the norms prescribed to a “western woman”. On top of that, a woman should be thin, tan and have perfect makeup-the kind that says “I woke up like this” and wear heels and skirts and hose.

That isn’t who I am.

I’d been so worried about getting a pixie cut because it would make “my face look fatter”. I spend so much time covering up parts of me I don’t like-my face, my flab, my stomach, my everything. And that is complete and irrevocable bullshit. Why should I apologize for being who I am? I am the one who grew this body (with a 9 month boost from my mom) and I’m the one who knows it best. I don’t have to look like a tent just because I don’t want people to notice my rolls.

So that’s why I’m doing some positive thinking. Because I have two options ahead of me: lose weight or love myself. And as my sweatshirt reminds me Love Yourself First. I think that’s great-because weight loss in and of itself isn’t going to make me happier. I’m still going to be the same person, I just won’t be as held down by gravity. So I got that pixie cut.

And the moment the hair stylist looked at the Pinterest picture I feebly held up, she didn’t agree. “Oh sweetie, that’s so much hair! Are you sure?” And I looked her reflection dead in the eyes and said “Yep. Cut it off.” She made the comment several more times and some of the other patrons chimed in before she was done. But I knew that my haircut was symbolic. I needed to cut ties with the things that held me back.

Now I’m not saying there will never be a relapse into the self-conscious dregs of my personality. Becuase even this morning on the bus, I found myself growing mopey and self-conscious about how much space my sweatshirt was taking up. And so I began the mantra: I am fierce. I am brilliant. I am more than my failures. I am more than numbers. I am more than grades and tests and school. I am more than my biggest hopes and goals. And soon enough, I began to smile. I caught the gaze of a girl with lilac colored lipstick and we shared a mutual smile. I even found out where she got the color (Ulta). Maybe I’ll go grab an ice blue. Who knows.

But what I do know is that by taking charge of the small details in my life, I regained something that I seem to always misplace: confidence. I don’t know if it’s because I mimicked a much beloved inspiration or if it’s because I decided that society wasn’t going to dictate my actions and behaviors and looks to me anymore. All I know is that I looked for a chance to believe in myself and now I’m taking it.

**Update**

So I think I started this on Wednesday. I’m fairly pleased with how well it’s going. I wore a lovely cowl neck dress shirt yesterday to go to the law fair at my school and introduce myself to several admissions people. I even put aside my concerns about large groups of people and let myself feel at home-because these people are the key to the rest of my future. I got questions answered and I felt the residual feeling of progress once more. I love it!

Today, I’m in a hoodie once more. Not because I’m ashamed-but because it’s so cold and rainy out. But I look super cute and I know that I’m still awesome. I got epic news yesterday, I’m mid-way to figuring out my entire life and I feel like things are starting to look up.

Sometimes the symbolic things are the ones that make the difference. Taking on another person’s best qualities for a time can lead them to become your own. Admitting that you’re in need of a change and then making it happen can lead to great things. I miss having long hair (sort of) but each day I wake up to curly, bed head sticking up everywhere just reminds me that I’m the one making things happen. And I know that I can do this.

I’ve got my magick back. And to quote a very excellent piece of philosophy:

Nobody, in all of Oz-no wizard that there is or was-is ever going to bring me down!

IMADTTO: The Conclusion

Hi folks.

Last night I received word on the President’s Prize, the project I’ve poured my heart and soul into for these past few months. I set out to combat rape culture on college campuses and in the end, it was decided that my project (for whatever reason) was not up to the level that my university wanted and therefore was rejected. I spent last night at somewhat of a loss. I believed in my project, it was the very first thing I put my whole self into and I received a very short “There were so many wonderful applicants, but unfortunately you will not be continuing on.” email and I debated what to do as my next step.

I decided that I wanted to share what I’d done with you all, so that you might know what I’d spent so much time working on, but also to use as a way to put some accountability on my university. I hope they do incorporate some of my ideas-because my pride is far less important than the safety of women everywhere. But if these ideas come into use, I hope they put them to action with as much devotion as I would have-because for them it’s just policy, for me it’s an entire life’s worth of passion. I’m only going to put the second round project proposal, because it is the most complete-but there were many other drafts, and additional pieces of work that needed to be included in the process of review.

I invite critiques and thoughts-because, as I said, this is something I’m devoting my whole life to-and am applying to law school for- so making this project better and better can only help me enact it in the courtroom.

I have to deal with losses as a lawyer, with grace and humility. I don’t want to lose, nor do I like it, but I am human and it very well may happen. I’m doing the best I can to plug forward, shake it off and carry on. My pride is wounded, but my compassion and drive are not. (Oh, and I changed the logo colors to Sexual Assault Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness colors-a change I am very happy with.)

tl;dr: I’m placing my project proposal on my blog so that I can use it as a platform to save the world in a different route: my own self.

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell President’s Prize Project Statement

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Project Title: IMADTTO (I Made A Difference To That One)

Problem Statement:

          Rape culture on college campuses is a social pandemic which needs to be addressed and eradicated. There are three target areas that I seek to focus on as key elements in the fight against rape culture: prevention, prosecution of crime and response to survivors. These elements are broken into sections of action that IMADTTO addresses as research, outreach, education and advocacy.

I maintain a blog on WordPress which, to the best of my abilities, I use to further stories of perceived injustices-focusing on rape culture. I use the critical thinking skills I have cultivated to seek out the legislation, proposed bills and the stories themselves so that I may present the facts. I also use that blog to discuss ideas for the improvement of society in respect to rape culture. I have opened the conversation to my readers and subscribers to tell me their ideas and stories. Since I have done so, it has been made abundantly clear to me that survivors of sexual assault desire to have their stories heard by someone who shows them respect and believes them at face value.

I have been approached by friends I have known for years, by family members and by complete strangers alike and asked if I could just listen to them. Among their stories, a vein of similarity popped up repeatedly: the need for gender inclusive education (whereby the message of body safety and awareness was given to all young adults), the need for a safe space to talk about their experiences and the need to be believed. It is these three suggestions from which IMADTTO came into existence, and will excel. The stark need for a program like IMADTTO is highlighted by the cases of Brock Allen Turner (Stanford University) and the Steubenville rape in 2012.

This project will positively affect everyone. The students are the target audience-both at a collegiate and high school level. By increasing body positivity and safety, young adults will be prepared to enter a world where they understand their rights, are fully capable of protecting themselves and are aware of what resources are available to them should they encounter an unsafe situation. On a slightly larger scale, this project will be beneficial to the parents of college-aged children by giving them the peace of mind that their children will be attending a college which is prepared to protect its students.

Ohio State will benefit from admissions increases, emerging as a leader in student safety and body positivity. Ohio State will serve as the role model for how rape culture on college campuses can be combatted. This commitment ripples through the national and global level, because Ohio State is rich in diversity and what student learn while attending will provide them the opportunity to be ambassadors to their home states and countries.

Project Outline and Timeline:

IMADTTO operates at four specific sections: research, outreach, education and advocacy. For each of these sections, individual tasks have been allocated. The research section will initiate the project. A survey will be created to assess potential problem areas on campus, the individual’s knowledge of available resources for the issue of sexual assault, responses to stigma and pop culture rape culture, as well as gauge their interest in a support group for survivors of sexual assault. This survey will serve as the basis for my own research (in accordance with IRB). This section will also include creating a compendium of resources available across the state to be used as part of the education and outreach sections. The research conducted in this section will be used to present at the latter two conferences I will attend.
Education will focus on the themes of body safety and body positivity. Under this category, a website and mobile application will be created in order to disseminate the information gathered in the “Research”. This will include a map of the areas deemed “issue” (that is to say, where students felt needed extra precaution when using) areas, the compendium of resources, links to news articles and legislation about sexual assault and rape culture, as well as important information such as basic self-defense tips. This information will be dispersed at twenty-five (25) high schools, as well as talks at each of the five (5) branch campuses, plus main campus. How to duplicate this project at other universities will be made available on the website as well.
The capstone for this section is the introduction of a sexual assault learning module in the Freshman Survey course, and a discussion for the parents at Freshman Orientation. The learning module will be a condensed, statistical exploration of rape culture and sexual assault that will be inserted into the pre-existing Freshman Survey course. The Freshman Orientation discussion with parents will be an introduction to the ways in which Ohio State is looking out for its students, including how a perpetrator will be dealt with. This creates accountability between Ohio State and the parents to ensure that all students are protected and informed.
Outreach focuses on publications. A newsletter featuring words of hope, self-care, the stories of survivors, and thoughts from professionals (such as nurses, social workers and police officers) will be created and distributed in both print and virtual format. This newsletter will also include progress reports for IMADTTO, as a way of holding the project accountable and also informing the general public about the successes of the project. Three books will be created, as conversation starters: one children’s picture book, one middle grade book and one young adult book. These books will focus on the theme of body positivity and inclusiveness at age appropriate levels.
Advocacy will take on a sustainable entity of its own. Small groups (of about 4-6 people) of survivors will come together to create support systems and lasting friendships during their time at Ohio State. These groups will serve as a type of “first line of defense” for survivors including-but-not-limited-to encouragement, providing escorts for the other members of their group to and from activities, get well cards, providing meals or support on “trigger” days (days in which the individual may suffer from the memory of a traumatic event). These groups will be for morale boosting purposes, but also provide a basic level of support by other people who understand the necessity of the group. There will also be collaboration with local law enforcement and politicians to promote an Ohio Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, modeled after the National Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which was passed just this year.
Apart from the support group, this project will be, essentially, a networking and structural one. In order for IMADTTO to become functional, I must prepare the foundations of each section (the survey, the website, the newsletter, educational materials) and use those to further the project. As the foundations are completed, the project will require assistance and guidance from both curriculum advisors and orientation organizers (for the survey course and orientation discussion) as well as the cooperation and coordination efforts between myself and the leadership of the schools which I will be presenting at. Once this is accomplished, the project becomes more self-sufficient. The course work and discussion materials will be available, as will the publications, finalizing the third tier. The research presentations head off the final leg of the project, support groups will form and be self-managing.
Achievements to date include the information gathered from my blog, in which the basis of this project has come into formation. The compendium of resources has been started, but is at a national level, compiled into an alphabetized list. This is a fantastic starting point, and will be made available on the website. I would like to make an Ohio-specific list for IMADTTO. I am also currently working to complete general IRB (Institutional Review Board) modules so that I can begin the project immediately.
There are several project goals over the course of the year. Within the first three months (July through September) the survey will be created and dispersed, data compiled, presentation materials created, website and newsletter created, and branch campus visits scheduled. In months four to six (October through December) will focus on the publications as well as drafting the Freshman Survey module and the Freshman Orientation discussion. The support groups will also be organized and commence in this time frame. The third quarter (January through March) goals are completing and publishing the children and middle grade books, speaking at the high schools and working with law enforcement and legislators to draft and propose the survivor bill. The final three months (April through June) will be centered on enacting the learning module, the orientation discussion and ensuring that IMADTTO has impacted the university in a positive way. Instructions will be created for those wishing to continue the support groups, newsletter and website (or final arrangements made). A research paper will be produced (and presented), and the young adult chapter book will be made available for purchase.
There is nothing about this project which will take more than 12 months to achieve, however, there are some items which will require ongoing effort. The Freshman Survey learning module, the Freshman Orientation parental discussion and the support groups will be the lasting sectors of IMADTTO, in the event that no one continues the newsletter and regular website upkeep. For the learning module, this will be in the hands of the faculty and staff who teach the survey course, as well as the curriculum advisors. The parent discussion will be in the control of the directors of orientation. The support groups will either end at the discretion of the individual groups, or will be in the control of Sexuality and Civility Empowerment.
I will measure the success of IMADTTO based on both quantifiable markers and abstract ones. The successful creation of educational materials, the website and the completion of the goals listed above will serve as indicators for the overall success. I will also view success based on the level of reach which the project will have. The introduction of the survivor bill and the implementation of discussions about changing rape culture and making sexual assault survivors less stigmatized, while a little more abstract, are no less important.

Budget Description:

In total, this project will require $48,469. This money will be utilized for marketing, data collection, producing educational materials and dispersing information. No external funding is required. Marketing will involve “swag”, or promotional materials to be distributed to the schools I visit, as well as at various times throughout the academic year. These items will include the link to the website, resource compendium and other valuable information. Data collection will include the cost of running the survey through Survey Monkey. This will also include the price of maintaining the website and domain name (if not included in the university’s page) and mobile application costs. Producing the educational materials includes printing handouts, producing the newsletter in print form and also startup costs for the books. Funds to sustain the project, as well as scholarships for the creation of artwork for the children’s book and mobile application design. A budget for travel is included not only to ensure transportation to the schools I intend to visit, but also to three conferences given by professionals for the sole purpose of combatting rape culture in their various professions. It is at these conferences that this project’s findings will be presented.
These financial resources directly affect achieving the project goals by ensuring the conception and implementation of the project itself. Without the research aspect, this project cannot fully address the concerns of the Ohio State population. Without the education aspect, IMADTTO cannot affect prevention of sexual assaults (or knowledge of availability of resources). Without the outreach aspect, no one will know what IMADTTO’s purpose is, what is being done and how to start the discussion about sexual assault. Without the advocacy aspect, no actual change will occur. Students will have to navigate the justice system alone, Ohio might not have a survivor bill of rights, law enforcement will not know which areas students feel unsafe in. By attending the conferences I have selected, I will be able to bring the knowledge of other professionals from a variety of backgrounds to Ohio State to continually make the information I have gathered both useful, timely and culturally relevant.

Additional Information:

Although I am not the only one to think of addressing the issue of sexual assault and rape culture, I do not believe there is a program which mirrors IMADTTO in its breadth and the way it is broken down. Of the programs which exist in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio and Sexuality and Civility Empowerment will be the resources I utilize most as I take on this project. Along with this, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network will be paramount to the successful accumulation of knowledge.
The marketing sector of this project will be taken care of both in person and through social media. I have a decent following on various social media platforms, and by utilizing the power and prestige of the university, I can access a vast database of networking moments through other students and faculty and staff. The in person marketing will come from meeting with students at their schools and at Ohio State’s Welcome Week.
In order for this project to be successful, each and every one of my interactions will be a form of partnership. Because I will have access to an entire university of staff and faculty who have insights into things I may not, such as research they’ve done over a specific facet of my project, the scope of my ideals will be far less limited. My faculty mentor will be the discerning rod for any questions I may have. From procedural decisions to research methods and write-up questions, I will use my mentor not as a crutch to lean on, but as a net to capture the things I might miss because of inexperience.
Apart from financial and networking assistance, all I require is a place to set up my work and internet access. This ideally takes the form of an office, so that I may organize my work in such a manner that causes maximum efficiency. I would also require a place (such as Sexuality and Civility Empowerment) for the support groups to meet if they so choose to do so on campus.
As with any project, there will be challenges. I anticipate that my own limitations in technology will be an issue, as will recruitment in the early stages of the project. As for the technological issues, I have designed a scholarship for the mobile application so that I can both give back to the university, but also so that I can devote my time to the website. Should there be problems beyond that, I am not too proud to ask for assistance and get my hands dirty! As for recruitment, I have set aside money in the budget for a reward for participants. There will be a raffle (for those who choose to enter) of 20-$50 gift cards. Any unforeseen problems will be handled with care and patience, and with the help of my faculty advisor.
I started down this path because of my own personal outrage at court cases like those involving Ke$ha, rapist Brock Turner and the Steubenville rape. In those stories I saw human beings who, like me, had had their bodily autonomy fractured and I saw the incredible strength of the survivors. It is with all of this in mind that I submit this project statement, in hopes that I might be the leader that my time at Ohio State has prepared me to be.
This project is more than just an opportunity to be the change I want to see in the world. It is the springboard I will use to further my career goals and ambitions. With graduation pending, I am applying to law schools around the country. It is a degree in criminal law which will afford me the honor of upholding justice and running for District Attorney. As District Attorney, I will continue the work I humbly began with my blog: fostering awareness and open dialogue between peoples of different backgrounds. I carry this one piece of truth with me each day, as both the inspiration for my passions, and also as the compass with which I make my decisions:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971.)

I Get It.

I woke up this morning and had one of those moments where you examine things really quickly (almost like a recap for a television show) and come away more informed. It was definitely not something I do often, or even planned, but the thing that came out of it is a nugget of truth I will carry with me.

People want to speak and be heard-not just listened to.

I reflected on the various interactions I have and am privy to seeing/ hearing. I mean, I can tell you that one of the things which makes me upset the quickest is being asked a question to which the answer isn’t going to be paid attention. It’ll happen subtly at first and then all of a sudden the questions are robotic and I understand that I’ve been ignored. That’s what I mean by hearing vs. listening. I can listen  to music-but until I understand the lyrics, the deeper meaning, I’m not actually hearing it. Active listening, I’ve heard it called.

People want to be heard and believed.

Here’s another little piece which plays off of the first truth. We all have that one thing we wish we could tell other people without fear of judgment (or worse). Maybe it’s something like you ate the last donut. Maybe it’s more like you have a mental health condition. Maybe you were the victim of a crime. Or maybe you just feel too stressed, too hurt, too tired to carry on. No one speaks up about their story because they don’t feel like anyone will believe them. And it very rarely matters what exactly their story is-it’s that they don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable with their audience.

Do you know why?

Think with me, if you will, about a child who won’t eat what is on their plate. Do you know a pretty typical response form the parent? “There are starving kids in Africa who would love to have what you don’t want. You’re being wasteful.” And the thing is, it is that mindset that carries into adult life. We trivialize the suffering and experiences of others for the sake of making it seem “not that bad”.  Struggling with depression? “You just need to pick yourself up-it could always be worse.” Struggling with trauma? “You’re exaggerating. It’s not like you were X.”

Can you blame anyone for not speaking up? How many of us have felt more than a little dejected because someone just didn’t get it?

I talked about feeling the need to keep talking, but the thing is, I think what I needed to know more than just “keep making a statement” was that I feel it so strongly because these fundamental needs aren’t being met.

When I talk about my troubles, my passions, my thoughts, I am frequently met by vacant stares and “Mmm.” Or head bobs. I want to speak and see change in people’s hearts and minds. I don’t want to know about how lucky I am-because I already know. I don’t want to hear about how I’m overzealous or over-emotional or “in excess” in someway. You are trivializing my experiences.

So what do we do?

We change.

We hear.

We believe.

We accept.

We love.