Kembry McNeil-Thompson: Marymount University Senior Pursuing a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Criminal Justice.
The issue of human trafficking was first brought to my attention during my senior year of high school. A former teacher of mine introduced my class and I to The Prevention Project—an award-winning educational curriculum created by the Richmond Justice Initiative about human trafficking—sparking a passion in me to do something about the issue and which began a multitude of anti-human trafficking efforts within my high school. I was shocked to learn about how prevalent the issue was in the area that I grew up in and lived in, and I was amazed to see how big of an impact my teacher, class, school, and myself were actually able to make in raising awareness of the issue—these being, perhaps, two of the biggest factors that drove me to speak out on the issue. Although my passion had not diminished, my anti-human trafficking efforts were put on hold until a few years into my college experience.
I was led to the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking [VCAHT] through a series of events, and while I had not seen VCAHT in my future at the time, I am very pleased that I did find this organization and those who are so dedicated to its mission and vision. My journey with VCAHT began my junior year of college, when I became eligible to begin my internship process. An internship is a university requirement that is necessary to graduate, but a student can fulfill their internship requirement during whichever semester they best see fit.
With a double major in English and Criminal Justice, I was faced with finding an internship that would fulfill the requirements of both majors. I was tasked with combining a justice or service component with a writing-intense aspect while also making sure that I was interested in the internship itself. I decided that I wanted to pursue something involving advocacy. I saw myself helping with some sort of non-profit, even if I did not yet know the details of what that was, and I wanted an internship that would allow me to write, read, and research about the ways in which I would be able to help an underserved community.
One day, while talking with a higher-up of mine about internships, she passed along three contacts with whom she had interned; interestingly enough, all of the contacts were each part of anti-human trafficking organizations. I was thrilled to be able to reconnect with an issue that I was so passionate about. I was also so grateful– and nervous– as I later reached out to each of the contacts. Soon after, I was in communication with someone at VCAHT explaining to them about my interest in an internship with their organization. After several emails, a phone interview, and even more emails later, I was told that I could intern for VCAHT! Imagine my excitement at finding an internship that was both advocacy-centered and that would allow me to fulfill the requirements of each of my majors. I was going to be able to do something that I was passionate about while also being able to complete what I needed to for school.
Although I might not have known each of the exact ins-and-outs of what I would be doing with VCAHT, I knew that they were a wonderful organization, and I could tell that I was going to love interning for them.
Next week, find out why I love being an intern for VCAHT.