Friday, March 24, 2017

Attending the Women's March on Washington - Casey Aldridge '17

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I took to the streets of Washington, D.C. with anywhere between five hundred thousand and one million marchers as part of the Women's March on Washington. Caroline Fowle, Addy Goff, and I carpooled together on Thursday evening to prepare for and attend the march. When Saturday morning came, the metro was packed over capacity, as more people flooded to the mall than had the day before for the Inauguration. I've been to some massive protests before, including the People's Climate March in New York City in 2014, but I don't think I have ever seen this many people in one place. As far as one could see was a crowded but beautiful sea of pink hats and protest signs.

Several other Levine Scholars and Alumni attended the march, some of whom I did not realize were in Washington until I saw protest photos on Instagram or Facebook later that evening. I was -- to my knowledge -- the only Levine Scholar at the D.C. march to not identify as a woman or as female. The scope of the march, however, was by no means limited to any single issue or constituency. Janelle MonĂ¡e led the crowd in her #BlackLivesMatter anthem, "Hell You Talmbout." Native American demonstrators made their presence known, carrying the slogans of the movement in Standing Rock for clean water and against the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Muslims, Jews, atheists, and Christians marched together against religious bigotry. LGBT folks voiced their concerns and their demands in the face of the new administration. Many immigrants at the march carried signs declaring that they were "undocumented and unafraid." 

The march was a beautiful reminder of what our world can look like, even if it doesn't look that way today. Millions across the United States marched that day, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, New York, and Charlotte, just to name a few. I knew family, friends, and fellow Levine Scholars at the march in Charlotte, which drew nearly twenty thousand people. The numbers, of course, are less important than the people themselves. It was an honor to march with friends and make new friends in the streets at the Women's March, and to be present in their frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and defiant joy. Feminism and other justice-oriented social movements flexed their muscles on January 21, and that ought to be encouraging to us all.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finalist Weekend 2017 - Reginald Harper Jr '20

This year’s finalist weekend was a success. Being a freshman, seeing the other side of the program was beneficial to me, as I was able to witness the logistics that went into the production as a whole, and gave clarity to some of the questions that I filed away last year.

I enjoy meeting people in general, so this weekend particularly piqued my interest. While it is hard to meet seventy or more students and their families in depth, I found it valuable to see such a successful class entering next year, regardless of who is selected. Even further, I know that those who may not receive this scholarship have endless opportunities in other ways. It is encouraging to see the amount of students who are making differences in their own individual ways, as it indicates the impact that they will make on our, or other, universities, and eventually, on our society as a whole. 

On the other hand, as we approached the event, I found myself reflecting on how much of a blessing the program is. Being able to have directors who are invested in seeing us succeed and fellow scholars who push each other to go above and beyond encourages me to excel in every facet of life. I am so comforted to have found a family in those that I have bonded with over the last year, and I know that there is no other program like this one.

I am eager to meet those who continue their studies here, whether through the program or not, and for them to experience such a network that will help highlight their strengths, improve on their weaknesses, and become productive citizens of our society.