What is your experience in the nonprofit sector?
As of right now, most of my experience in the nonprofit sector is academic and/or volunteer based. I began working with local nonprofits (particularly in the Central Florida area) during in my master’s program in Applied Sociology, assisting organizations with research projects. I have continued that work into my PhD program where I am also a Project Manager for the Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences at UCF, which involves developing and conducting research for community organizations, writing up, and presenting the findings. I also volunteer pretty regularly with Planned Parenthood.
What is your favorite nonprofit program or event?
There are so many to choose from! But I would have to say my favorite event is the monthly Condom Crawl that Planned Parenthood volunteers participate in. We go to popular nightlife areas in Downtown Orlando and hand out more than 1,000 free condoms each time. I enjoy this event so much because it’s a great bonding event for the PP volunteers, while also normalizing discussions of sexual health, contraceptives, and condom use in our community. Overall, it’s just a fun way to let our community know about Planned Parenthood, the services they offer, and the ways that PP stands with our community!
I feel inspiration from so many people around me, but I’d like to highlight two young professionals in particular that I look up to. The first would be Anna Eskamani at Planned Parenthood. I met Anna when I began volunteering with Planned Parenthood and I have just always been so impressed with her dedication to community, the work she does, and her ability to take on so many leadership roles, remain calm in the face of cruel, anti-choice protesters, and keep a smile on her face and a friendly demeanor. She is truly a role model as a young professional, and sometimes I wish I could just harness a small sample of the energy that keeps her going!
The second person that stands out is my good friend Abigail Malick. I met Abigail in the Applied Sociology MA program and I have always been inspired by her commitment as an advocate and academic in matters related to sexual violence prevention, gender/sexuality identification, and sexual health. She recently accepted a position as a Health Coordinator at UCF and it has been so amazing to see her flourish in that position while continuing to work on her dissertation.
How has networking proven beneficial for you?
Networking has always been really intimidating to me, but the closer I get to finishing my PhD program – and the more the job hunt becomes real – I’m seeing the value in networking in both personal and professional ways. I enjoy expanding my network to include a range of diverse people with diverse skills and talents. Not only has this helped me grow into a more well-rounded person, but it also allows me to connect with – and make connections between – new friends in a number of ways.
How did you become involved with YNPN?
I knew early on in grad school that I was interested in non-academic career paths and began seeking opportunities to become more aware of the community of fellow young professionals in similar situations. I am fortunate to have a friend, Cara Smith, who works in the nonprofit sector here in Orlando, and she informed me about YNPN and all the resources and opportunities it had to offer. Thanks, Cara!