There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The energy and passion of STAR’s leadership team, staff, and interns has not only been impressive, but absolutely contagious! –Elisa Samaniego
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
ES: I am an LSU Law Student Attorney in the Sexual Assault Legal Clinic. The student attorneys work under the supervision of Morgan Lamandre, STAR’s Vice-President of Survivor Services and provide legal assistance to survivors at STAR.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
ES: Growing up in the border town of El Paso, Texas exposed me to a variety of stories from our neighboring town, Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, related to sexual violence. Living in one of the safest cities in the United States, sexual violence seemed like a distant issue that had no relevance in the U.S. That is, until I began my law school career and realized how big of a problem sexual violence is in the U.S. My exposure to the stories in Juarez has afforded me a much better understanding and compassion for survivors. I felt that I was equipped to participate in this cause, and when I read a year ago that STAR and LSU Law were partnering to create the Legal Clinic, I knew that this was a way I could use my law degree to positively participate in ending sexual violence.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?
ES: In my short few months at STAR, I have learned (and continue to learn) the necessary skills and gained the confidence to address sexual violence issues. It has been an amazing experience to see and participate in the collaborative efforts being made at STAR to help survivors. The energy and passion of STAR’s leadership team, staff, and interns has not only been impressive, but absolutely contagious!
ES: When things get difficult or discouraging, I take a moment to stop and recall my professional goals and my overall determination and commitment to make a difference in the area of sexual violence. Once I am re-focused, I become energized and ready to move forward. I also have an excellent support system that keeps me motivated during challenging times.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
ES: Before joining STAR, sexual violence was not a topic that was discussed with friends and family. It was likely due to a lack of awareness and understanding, or a reluctance to discuss these issues. Now that I am a part of STAR and have been educated on sexual violence and the effects of sexual trauma, I try to create an environment that will allow us (friends, family, classmates, anyone!) to have discussions on topics related to sexual violence that are not likely to take place otherwise. Sometimes, it is as simple as presenting my views and concerns about the prevalence of sexual violence to my law school peers, family, and friends.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
ES: I would tell them to make a serious effort to participate because their experience will be truly rewarding. Regardless of their career path, this experience will truly enhance their understanding of the challenges that exist in our society. Additionally, opportunities to learn and be part of a multidimensional team, similar to my experience at STAR, can be rare and difficult to find. Any form of participation in this movement is a step closer in creating a world free from sexual violence.