LSA senior Laura Meyer’s immediate response to being chosen as a Student of the Year was to share the recognition with all the other members of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
“It’s really fun to be recognized for something that I’ve worked really hard on,” she said. “But at the same time a lot of the stuff that we’ve all accomplished has been done together, so I want to recognize the people who have also helped make everything happen.”
Meyer is a volunteer coordinator at SAPAC, meaning she organizes all of the volunteers to make sure everything runs smoothly and does community organizing and outreach. This year, she helped coordinate big events like the annual Speak Out, Revolution — a spring art show — and the Week of Activism.
Meyer said she first joined SAPAC because she wanted to be a part of an organization that actually took action on a larger scale and made a significant impact on the community of which it is a part.
“I got involved as a sophomore because I was really interested in being involved in an organization that had a more formalized structure,” she said. “That way I knew that the work I did would be executed and be continued into the future. I was tired of being in organizations and them not being organized enough to really accomplish anything.”
Meyer has touched the lives of many through SAPAC, but, more introspectively, she said the organization has greatly influenced her own life too. SAPAC emphasizes reflection for its leadership members, which Meyer said has allowed her to think about her own qualities as a leader.
“It has allowed me to think about my values, leadership style and identity and how that impacts how I am as a leader,” she said. “It’s sharpened my vision into the future and made me think more about what my guiding values and principles are. I’m constantly learning from all of these people, and that has been the biggest place of growth for me.”
But, for Meyer, the most important aspect of SAPAC is its social justice element. She said social justice is a core part of her personality and SAPAC gives her an outlet to apply that.
“For me, something that guides me and is very central to who I am is the vision of a socially just world,” she said. “Working in SAPAC, we centralize our work on one issue, but we complicate that with all these other issues that also impact that. I am really interested in social change, and I feel like I can accomplish that through SAPAC.”
Overall, Meyer said, SAPAC has become an incredibly important part of her life, giving her energy and encouraging her to do as much as she can to help her community. She also noted the importance of community within the group, noting one of the reasons she became so involved was all of the “bomb-ass people.”
“I’ve adored my time at SAPAC,” she said. “It is the engine of my life. It drives me forward. It gives me this energy that I did not have before. I’m so thankful for the experience to learn more about who I am.”
Because of her work at SAPAC, Meyer said she plans to follow a future career with social justice by working in government relations for a women’s health nonprofit following graduation.
“Working at SAPAC has helped me think about what I want to do sort of day-to-day,” she said. “And it helps me with thinking about the way you can incorporate social justice into everything you do and make it more of a daily practice rather than a broad long-term goal. I know, whatever I do, that I idea of justice will be with me and shape what I do.”