By Silvia Zenteno, Biden Fellow for Violence Against Women Initiatives
It’s On Us and the Biden Foundation are excited to announce the new class of Regional Advisors for the 2018-19 school year. The Regional Advisors are students who have demonstrated exemplary leadership through their work with It’s On Us during their college careers. The summit will help our network of campus organizers around the country connect and access resources for year-round programming in their own campus communities. This will build upon our work in previous years, but our hope is that this training will provide more tangible resources and tools for campus and regional leaders.
Here are some of the many highlights in the work of each Regional Advisor:
Alma Baker (Region 3) is a Hungarian American, born in Hungary and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is a rising senior at St. Edward’s University in Texas, where she studies social work. She’s been an involved leader in sexual and interpersonal violence awareness, prevention, and education work at her university.
Avni Ahuja (Region 6) is a rising junior at the University of Georgia. She is studying sociology with the intent of becoming a doctor. As a student, Avni was inspired to get involved in sexual assault prevention on her campus. While she has learned much from the policy and research side of these issues, she found that one of her strengths is in directly engaging with her community through advocacy and outreach.
Carly Dryden (At-Large) is a rising senior at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She found her passion of sexual assault awareness early in her freshman year and now serves as the president of Puget Sound’s It’s On Us chapter as well as the Student Advisory Committee for It’s On Us.
Diana Bata (Region 7) is a junior double-majoring in Philosophy and Criminal Justice and double minoring in Political Science and English at the University of North Dakota. She has put on many events in the last year to push the message of It’s On Us with themes such as consent, bystander intervention, healthy relationships, ending rape culture, and more.
Emily Durand (At-Large) is a rising senior at Syracuse University in New York. She comes from the Mississippi Coast and is interested in the intersection of her home community’s background with the issues surrounding sexual assault and gender-based violence on college campuses
Emma Heisler-Murray (Region 5) will be attending Teachers College at Columbia University for her master’s degree in the fall, studying clinical psychology with a concentration in sexuality, women, & gender. She’s been a part of It’s On Us for two years, hosting more than 50 events in her time as a campus organizer. She aspires to get a Ph.D. and go into research of sexual assault and use her findings as justification for better treatment of survivors.
Sam Pahl (At-Large, Military Regions) is a Midshipman 2/C (a Junior) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. His passions are influenced strongly by a gap year spent in Haiti and include conservation, social justice, and education. A quantitative economics major at the Academy, Sam hopes to commission in 2020 as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Maeve Sheridan (Region 4) is a rising senior at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is a state-certified sexual assault victim-survivor advocate and works for The Aurora Center, her on-campus resource for sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking victim-survivors. She will graduate in spring of 2019 and plans to move to Louisiana and begin her career with Teach For America.
Michelle Roldan (At-Large) attends Grand Valley State University in Michigan. She has a passion for advocating for those who do not have a voice, or whose voices have been marginalized. Michelle strives to spread awareness about assault, consent, and bystander intervention.
Nykolai Blichar (At-Large) is a graduate student at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. He is a strong advocate for survivors of sexual violence. From 2016-17, Nykolai served on the National Student Advisory Committee with about 29 other students across the United States and this past year served as a Regional Advisory for the Northeast. Nykolai hopes to bring his experiences to the field of higher education as well as to politics where he plans to run for office in the near future.
Paige Schoppmann (At-Large) is a rising senior at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Upon graduation, she looks to someday gain a seat in the United States Senate, as well as further her professional activism in fighting against sexual violence throughout the country and beyond.
Shahar Lawrence (Region 2) is an advanced standing student in the masters of social work program at the University of Utah. She has been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault since December 2015. She currently works for the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City.
Vanessa Hardin (Region 1) just graduated with her associate in arts degree in peace studies from Golden West College. She will be transferring to San Francisco State University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in geography. Vanessa would ultimately like to become a geography professor at the community college that has given her meaning and study the impact of sexual assault based on geographical location and identity.
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We’re looking forward to convening this impressive group of student leaders during a weekend-long summit in Washington, D.C., in August! Thank you to the Regional Advisors for all for their work and their commitment to ending sexual violence on college campuses.