Grace Mandy has never shied away from voicing her support for the feminist movement and hoped to continue her follow her passion at the University of Connecticut. Luckily for Mandy, she found her place at the Women’s Center, where she works as co-chair of the programming committee.
“When I came to UConn, I joined the programming committee as a volunteer,” Mandy, a fourth-semester secondary English education major, said. “ After spending a year volunteering to create some amazing events on campus, I decided to apply to work at the Women’s Center.”
In her position at the Women’s Center, Mandy’s work includes creating exciting and educational events focusing on women’s rights issues.
“One of our most successful events last semester was Tough Tea Time,” Mandy shared. “At this event, we hoped to engage students in meaningful conversation.”
Mandy pointed out how, in today’s political climate, it seems uncommon for people in disagreement to actually learn from each other and adjust their own beliefs, as they often just argue for the sake of trying to prove themselves right and the other person wrong.
“So as this event, we had people discuss the ways in which they might be a bad feminist and critiqued the current feminist movement, as well as discussed the ways in which we can all be better feminists,” Mandy said about Tough Tea Time. “And this has been my favorite part of my job...being able to make a change in my community to help other students learn and grow!”
While working at the Women’s Center, Mandy also looks forward on how to improve the center’s collaboration with the other cultural centers.
“Feminism focuses on the idea of intersectionality...so to have cultural centers working in isolation on their events seems counterintuitive,” Mandy said. “In the future, I hope that it will become normal to collaborate on most events with other cultural centers, and to support one another, considering that’s what feminism is all about.”
Along with her ambitions as part of the feminist movement and advocating for women’s rights, as a secondary English education major, Mandy aims to become an English teacher. Recently accepted into the Neag School of Education, she looks forward to begin student teaching.
“I hope to be able to someday marry what I’ve learned at the Women’s Center with my teaching,” Mandy explained. “At the Women’s Center, we’re constantly working on taking articles that we read, or videos that we watch, discussing them, and learning how to become people who can create a better world. This is a lesson I hope to apply to my own teaching practices!”
Continuing with Mandy’s commitment to advocating student wellness on campus, she is also involved with the Body Project, where she also volunteers as a facilitator to teach students about self-acceptance and body peace. The group actively promotes positive self-esteem and body image.
“We provide workshops to learn how to recognize media messages that push a certain body standard on women, as well as how to combat pressures to look a certain way at the expense of your own physical and mental health,” Mandy said. “It’s a program that has been proven to decrease eating disorders risk factors, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to help so many young women who may struggle with self-love and self-care.”
As Mandy balances her full course load and extracurriculars, she still takes the time to have fun and put her health and wellness first. In her free time, Mandy draws, paints, contributes to a Women’s Center zine and takes Zumba classes at the gym. She’s always up for a Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros tournaments with her friends.
“My short term goal for the semester is to focus more on self-care,” Mandy said. “I’m constantly battling with stress and anxiety, and hope that by taking time out of my relax and take care of myself, I’ll be able to be a better student.”
Like a true Husky, Mandy’s favorite spot on campus is the Dairy Bar.
“Honestly, the best part about being a Husky is being able to get Dairy Bar chocolate milkshakes whenever I want!” Mandy said.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.