My name is Madeline Meyer, and I am a rising senior at Northwestern University studying social policy and gender and sexuality studies. As part of my college experience, I had the opportunity to complete a practicum during my junior year at Porchlight Counseling Services. Here is a bit about me and why I care so much about my work here at Porchlight:
As a third grader, I discovered my passion for women’s rights when Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian women’s and children’s rights activist and lawyer, visited my classroom and shared her experiences fighting for gender inequality despite discouragement and threat of danger. This drove me to actively pursue women’s rights in high school and college, both in my academics and extracurricular activities, and eventually expanded into an interest in women’s health and sexual health education.
For example, while at Northwestern, I joined Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, a student group that works to combat rape culture and sexual assault on campus. I completed 40 hours of training my sophomore year on survivor support, abusive relationships, and safe sex, and therefore was immediately drawn to Porchlight’s mission when I started looking for a Practicum site. As an organization focused on helping survivors navigate life after a traumatic experience, I knew they would help me apply my knowledge and experiences in a real world setting, while also learning concrete skills to better understand how to create positive impact.
Over the past 10 weeks, I was supervised by Annie Holmes, Porchlight’s Program Director, to expand Porchlight’s name recognition with the intention of reaching more students and empowering them to make decisions about their mental health. Specifically, I have helped create new relationships with colleges across the Chicagoland area, including DePaul University, Loyola University, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Harry Truman College. This was my first look into the frustrating experience of phone tag in the non-profit world, and gave me the skills to be persistent and forward when cold calling and setting up meetings with new connections. I have also researched and helped develop new presentations and education materials focused on the importance of prioritizing mental health after an assault, drawing on my training from SHAPE and Porchlight’s historical archives. Finally, with the launch of our new website towards the end of my spring experience, I helped make edits and ensure the content is relevant and updated.
I am also excited to announce that thanks to a grant through Northwestern University, I will have the opportunity to continue working at Porchlight this summer. I look forward to developing new marketing materials (including continued edits of the website), helping plan our fall fundraiser, and continuing to build new partnerships and education materials.
Written by Madeline Meyer on May 30, 2018.