Autumn Blalock, a junior theater and psychology co-major at Albright College, is dedicated to empowering the community around her. Whether she is spearheading a production in the theater department about social and political issues, or making phone calls encouraging young people to vote, her desire is to galvanize her generation to use their voices. Autumn has taken large steps in the last year to not only increase the work she is doing in the community, but also to find ways to teach what she is learning in her classes to normally disadvantaged people from whom knowledge has a history of being systematically kept. She has invested her efforts in multiple projects over the years, constantly giving of her time and cheerful spirit. She is currently the production manager of the theater company at Albright, which is leading a season committed to social justice. She is also in the process of developing research that will seek effective methods of communication and education that can inspire healthier behaviors in her peer group. The list goes on and on, but her desire to grow the community she serves is at the heart of everything she does.
At a young age, the importance of community was instilled in me, not through lectures, but through experience. Growing up in a small, majority Black/Hispanic community, there was an unspoken rule to look out for each other. My family often relied on this rule, and I have always desired to not only repay the communities that took care of me, but to end the oppression they face. From the time I was old enough to read, I knew that poverty, imprisonment, and oppression were the paths that were set before most of my generation. I never accepted that future. I believe that we deserve better, and I am determined to be a part of the solution. In high school, I worked with clubs that would allow me to tutor peers or to donate to local shelters. I wrote artistic pieces that addressed teen suicide and bullying. As a college student, I volunteer for Pennsylvania Student Power Network, which advocates for social equity. I use what I learn in both of my majors to demand change on behalf of my community. We must not be thrown away or stereotyped as lazy criminals or animals anymore. I am committed to it.