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NSU student seeks to enlighten people on feminism, equality
Sep 12, 2012 | 943 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brandi Vincent
Brandi Vincent
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Brandi Vincent’s summer internship was more than work experience or a line to add to her resume. It was a summer of discovering personal independence and a passion for motivating others towards civic engagement.  Vincent lived in Los Angeles for eight weeks and worked for the Feminist Majority Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s equality, reproductive health and non-violence.  Working with FMF, founder of Ms. magazine, Vincent found her voice in supporting advocacy for marginalized groups.

A Lafayette native, Vincent is a junior at the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University, the state’s only designated honors college. She is a double major pursuing a degree in liberal arts/humanities and English literature with a concentration is gender and women’s studies. During her internship, she worked primarily on Get Out the Vote, an initiative that provides resources and information on voter registration and encourages citizens to become educated about issues on their ballot.

“Our focus was mobilization, registration and education,” Vincent explained. She and other interns visited college campuses throughout California and prepared to host a summit for student leaders across the country.  “I got to see a lot of the state.  We showed them how to fill out voter registration forms, identify the best ways to get the forms on their campuses and how to lead the Get Out the Vote campaign at each school. We hope to motivate and energize students to vote.”

Her work with the Feminist Majority Foundation included campus outreach to strengthen the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, a national pro-choice student network.  In addition to work in advocacy and awareness, Vincent and others volunteered as clinic escorts at women’s clinics.  She also helped with a Ms. piece on the top women’s studies programs around the nation.

Students in the Louisiana Scholars’ College are encouraged to pursue internships.  Last year, Vincent worked at a law firm and quickly realized that was not the field she wanted to pursue. She discovered an interest in feminism as a college freshman when she enrolled in Dr. Holly Stave’s interdisciplinary approach to gender studies class.

“Taking that class, I became aware of limitations of certain marginalized groups,” she said.  “I saw a documentary last year on Gloria Steinem, about her part in the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine.  I did some research and first was going to apply to work at Ms., but with my professor’s encouragement, I applied to the Feminist Majority Foundation.  I was one of the first and one of the few interns from the south.  The other interns were from all over the country, with two internationals from France and Taiwan.”

The experience was one of personal growth.

“When I started the internship, I was at first fearful and second guessing myself until I realized I was surrounded by young women equally motivated and equally driven.  I also felt confident that my Scholars’ education was up to par with that of women who went to Ivy League schools,” she said.  “I was living thousands of miles away without my parents and completely out of my comfort zone.  I figured out I can make it on my own.  Louisiana is my home and my culture and there is a lot to love about it but there’s a world out there.”

At Northwestern State, Vincent is a member of Phi Mu and vice president of NSU’s Panhellenic Council, whose philanthropy is Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, a group devoted to helping girls in underdeveloped nations stay in school.  She hopes to work with both men and women on campus to start a Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance chapter and encourage the Scholars’ College Forum Council and the Student Government Association to plan events to educate students about candidates, ensure the campus post office has voter registration forms and initiate a campus V-Day campaign, a national movement to end violence against women and girls.  She will also continue to focus on Get Out the Vote.

“People forget that while the presidential election is important, other proposals on the ballot can affect us just as much,” Vincent said. “I care about issues and what’s going to affect me personally.  It’s important for people to vote and feel confident in what they are voting on.  We want to get students registered and educated to vote.  It’s our future that’s on the line.”

She also intends to clarify the definition of feminism.

“Students need to be educated about what feminism is.  It’s not sexism against men.  It’s equality for all people, equality for all marginalized groups” she said.

Vincent is already examining her options following graduation. She may pursue a joint Ph.D. program in English literature and women’s studies and, with a minor in French, would like to teach abroad.  In addition to writing literature, she is also interested in journalism and was asked by Ms. to consider a blog, “Confessions of a Southern Feminist.” The network of activists she encountered during her internship was eye opening.

“Some people think I’m radical.  I’m not nearly as radical as some,” she said.

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