Sophie Ouellette-Wade, a political science and third year student at Wittenberg University, is committed to understanding and changing the racial inequalities embedded in political institutions. In particular, she is focused on the criminal justice system and intends to pursue a career in law to help reform the system that leads to the disproportionate disenfranchisement of minorities. During her time at Wittenberg, she has contributed to a series on campus by faculty and students on Race, Age, and Voting in America. In addition, she has engaged with local organizations and leaders in Springfield, including the juvenile court and nonprofits focused on systemic change. She has used these connections to deepen her own understanding of both the structural forces of inequality as well as the personal impact those inequalities have on people. She has created many connections on campus, exposing herself to various viewpoints and seeking opportunities to strengthen her collaboration skills. Her leadership style is heavily complimented by partnership with her peers, who help her to facilitate new pathways to resolve conflicts. She is eager to take these connections and passions and use them to create meaningful change as a public servant.
I attended elementary and middle school in a very diverse community, which was the starting point for my exposure to experiences unlike my own. From there I attended a private Catholic high school, which pulled me into a community that was very uniform, where instances of inequality weren’t often discussed. During my senior year, I began to think about issues of inequality and the difference between my early schooling and high school. Learning about the barriers to voting faced by millions of Americans opened my eyes opened my eyes not only to the issues of racial inequality that others face, but how that inequality is embedded in the institutions meant to serve us. With the rise of Black Lives Matter and the work of Stacey Abrams in Georgia, my appetite for understanding and working to change the systems that perpetuate inequality has deepened. It has given purpose to my future career in law. I find myself in the position of being a bridge between people with different experiences, and I strive to deeply understand and listen to their situations. I want to take the next step and learn how to turn my passions and connections into meaningful change.