By Matthew Heck, Online Communications Coordinator
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring posts by some of the outgoing seniors on our Managing Committee, reflecting on their experience with STAND. Applications for the 2013-2014 Managing Committee are due May 1.
Sometimes I play a game with myself in which I try to trace back events and choices in my life to a root cause. Though I realize this game is pretty silly, a common thread unites almost everything meaningful over the past seven years: STAND.
I first became involved with STAND during my sophomore year of high school. It was 2006 and I had just turned 16. A close friend convinced me to join the campaign he was spearheading to divest the Kansas public retirement fund from companies doing irresponsible business in Sudan. Despite considerable initial opposition, the measure passed and was signed into law in May of 2007.
The STAND ball was rolling.
A year later, I took on my own project, organizing a fundraising run from my hometown of Wichita, Kansas to Washington, DC. Raising over $30,000 for civilian protection and spanning 1,300 miles (all ran by nine student-athletes), the relay catapulted me onto STAND’s national outreach team, then a summer long excursion to the Thai-Burma border, and finally to my current role as STAND’s Online Communications Coordinator.
Though I can credit STAND for many direct contributions to my life, like professional training in social media, website development, community organizing, and a whole slew of diverse topics, the most important contributions were indirect. I can say with complete certainty that, had it not been for STAND, I would neither have applied to Swarthmore College nor been accepted. I would likely be majoring in computer science instead of political science. My spare time would not be spent designing websites, running competitively, or reading Nietzsche for fun.
Most importantly, though, I would never have met some of the most amazing people and made some of the most amazing friends. One friend, Emily, is now helping empower Indian women to compete in the global market place, but still watched me run a track meet in Boston. Sam has led impressive organizations, but lent me a book on the Cuban Missile Crisis for three years. Some, like Ashley, Kelly, Katie, and Mike randomly check in with me, just to see how I’m doing. And countless others will answer a text, email, or phone call within a matter of minutes—pouring out essays full of advice.
STAND is a truly unique institution, not because of what it has accomplished, the trainings it provides, or the structure of its management, but because of its malleability. In short, STAND is what every student makes of it; and, right now, we need you to join us byapplying for a leadership position on STAND’s Managing Committee.
But, if filling the shoes of Emily, Sam, Ashley, Kelly, or any other seems daunting, just remember that they got their start somewhere.
Let STAND be your start.