Sophomore activist rallies to restart SASA
Kim Parker '11 is one California
girl who will seriously miss the
Maine winter. "I'm not a fan of the
L.A. area," the Pasadena native and
snow-shoeing enthusiast said. "I'm
missing the snow already. I want to
stay somewhere cold."
Parker loves people. This fact is evident both academically and in her extracurricular interests. As a biology- neuroscience major, with minors in classics-Latin and human development, she cultivates a diverse set of interests, hoping to one day go to graduate school to become a family therapist. She takes academics seriously: this semester, she's enrolled in six classes, including two labs. "Labs are killer," she said.
Parker also serves as the secretary for the Pugh Community Board (PCB) and is a Colby Cares About Kids mentor. Her mentee, Sarah, is 12 years old and is "really into bugs and animals" and has "lots of energy and red hair."
But what Parker is most passionate about these days is her attempt to restart Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA), a College initiative that recently disintegrated. She plans for it to be under the umbrella of Student Health on Campus (SHOC). April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Parker is excited about the array of activities on campus, including film screenings, the return of the Clothesline Project to the Street and the Take Back the Night March on April 16.
"The point of it is to raise awareness," Parker said of Take Back the Night. Participants will gather on Miller Library, listen to speeches by police and local politicians and observe a moment of silence. Victims will be given a chance to speak out before the entire group walks down to Waterville. Parker hopes for a big turnout among members of the College community.
Her interest in sexual assault awareness and support extends offcampus, too. Parker just completed training to work at a rape crisis hotline. "I had wanted to work for a crisis hotline for awhile," Parker said. "I saw a flyer on campus, seeking advocates.
I showed up and there were about five other people there, so I was like, 'I should do this.'" Parker explained that she received her training last fall with Waterville Rape Crisis Assistance and Prevention, spending a total of 48 hours over six weeks learning about mental health, rape kits and working with law enforcement, among many other things. "It was very intense," she said. "Survivors came and spoke to us. It was a good learning experience."
However, after Waterville Rape Crisis Assistance and Prevention closed in December due to funding problems, Parker instead began working with the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center in Winthrop. According to Parker, a new office is opening in Waterville on Silver Street.
"Right now, it's functioning on a minimal level," Parker said, "There are people in there for walk-ins only."
Parker expects the Center to be "up and running within a month." She's especially excited to begin working as an advocate. "Activism is great," she said, talking about her awareness work. "But I really just want to work with people."
Parker doesn't only love people. "I like rodents," she said. "They were the first pets I ever had." Her mom bought Parker her first rat when she was six. Parker named him Tiggy. "I've had them ever since," she said, although she is currently rat-less.
When asked why so many people are afraid of rats, Parker quickly said, "Their tails. That's what I hear all the time. But really, they're great pets, they don't bite."
Parker is looking forward to the summer, when she will live at the College and intern at Kennebec Behavioral Health. She then plans to spend next fall abroad in Dijon, France.