Experiences have a lasting impact on the person we catapult ourselves into becoming overtime. Growing up, I distinctly remember feeling like being in a constant dance of Jekyll and Hyde. At home I had a support system of strong women beside me, championing to get myself into gear. But that does not always mean everyone holds the same sentiment, about you. In elementary, children would avoid me like the plague as soon as the clunky white plastic of my brace came into view. This was the first time I realized just how, “different”, I was by other standards. This encounter shaped how I trust myself and if I leap at an opportunity.
As a white-passing Latina woman with varying disabilities, I understand these are just three aspects that make up my identity. I imagine women having a space where they feel safe to look back on who they are and proudly claim their truth. Our passage of relearning who we are and the landscape of the world, begins by making the conscious choice of recognizing our positionally.
2020 has been a year full of acknowledgments and continuing to return to the drawing board. We all possess the ability to stop, inflect, grow in accountability, and move with awareness. In the middle of March, I became overwhelmed with a sensation of uncertainty as coronavirus became a more prominent player in our sights. I allowed the waves of doubt to rock my spirit of confidence and belief, including harnessing my passion. Multiple summer internships and programs were becoming far away possibilities that just kept shrinking.
As college students in academia this saying is drilled into us: Junior year is the time to have internships lined up solidified by a strong summer, but what happens when that is not feasible. Despite the fact that COVID utterly rewrote the idea of normalcy, opportunity, and community, I still feel fulfilled. All of us in the cohort, as well as the amazing PLEN facilitators and speakers, have a unique perspective because the Women in Global Policy seminar went virtual during a pandemic. Who else felt represented in the dynamic women being reflected back to us by the computer screen? Before PLEN, I knew my drive was founded on wanting to be a vessel for others to have their stories within the conversations that dictate how they move through the world. In my mind, law school or graduate school were both two big-time contenders. After geeking out in joy at the Ambassadors, cultural foreign service officer, and curation of the Women’s suffrage exhibit, my mind wandered all around. It is naïve and disrespectful to say that their roads to now were easy. We all have obstacles that can either make or break us, but what is truly great is when regardless of differing standpoints, the space is a secure one striving to see everyone succeed.
I will go forward reimagining to reimagine what the parameters of advocacy, while challenging others to do the same. Advocacy is not supposed to be stagnant; it comes in any form we paint in our minds. The scholarship that I was awarded by PLEN, not only provided financial relief but affirms that when your authentic self, zeal for what matters to you shines, people will see it. Being a participant of PLEN does not mean the confidence and community I gained stops here, it propelled me to be active in a Humanities Institute focused on research. During this time, I have developed my curiosity for delving into the archive, unearthing the stories filled with pleasure and resilience of communities. Whatever I go on to do, it will center the complexity of experience and women being heard everywhere.
In the words of Ambassador Manes, “Be Brave, Be Worthy, Be Amazing".
Every single one of us needs to take a chance on ourselves, ask for help and when we arrive at our destinations, push it forward for others.
Jubilee Rexach is a rising Junior at Rutgers University Newark studying Women and Gender studies with Anthropology. This past May, she attended the first-ever virtual Women in Global Policy seminar, wooah! She would like to thank all of the amazing women who gave their time because they have aided in further developing her plans for after graduation in May 2022.