Grace Manger

From Grand Rapids, Michigan

Highschool: Forest Hills Northern High School

Class of 2015
Future Alma Mater:
Kalamazoo College

Independent Student of the Day

I am a Senior at Kalamazoo College, double majoring in Human Development & Social Relations and Spanish. I spent my Junior year abroad in Oaxaca, México, where I studied grassroots revolutionary movements and immigration policy. I have been active on campus through POWER (Kalamazoo College’s feminist student organization) and Spanish Medical Interpreting through The Center for Civic Engagement. I have also been a member (and this year, a facilitator) of Women, Food, and Bodies, which is a peer-to-peer confidential space for K College women to discuss food and body image struggles. I have also sought out opportunities off campus, including working at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo as a Youth Development Professional. I am also the Intern Coordinator for Adios Barbie, an organization and website that promotes body-positivity through feminism and intersectionality. I recently researched and wrote my Senior Thesis using a feminist analysis to explore pro-disordered eating websites and the role of online communities in adolescent identity construction.

My motivation

I am motivated by problems. In the United States alone, one in four women will be sexually assaulted before graduating from college; the multi-billion dollar diet industry convinces women that they will not be good enough until they effectively disappear; hospital bills not covered by insurance is the biggest cause of bankruptcy; LGBT*Q youth make up 40% of youth experiencing homelessness. Worse than any of this is that so many people still refuse to accept these realities. I am motivated to raise awareness and bring these issues to the forefront of America’s consciousness in hopes of inspiring lasting and systemic change.

My latest accomplishments

Just recently I helped to organize and facilitate a Twitter party on Thanksgiving called “#Thx4Support,” which offered support, resources, and advice all day long to those struggling with food and body image issues on Thanksgiving. We had an amazing panel of organizations, including National Eating Disorder Association, Libero Network, Trans* Folx Fighting Eating Disorders, Proud 2B Me, and Adios Barbie. We reached 532K accounts in one day alone, and people from all over the country utilized the hashtag and support we were offering. I really came away from the event feeling inspired by people and organizations that utilize social media for good.  

Next big goal

My next big goals are to graduate from Kalamazoo College in June and find a job doing some kind of social work: rape victim advocacy, eating disorder support, or working with LGBT*Q youth. After a year or two of solidifying my interests, I hope to complete a Masters in Social Work and go from there.

Why is choosing your own path important?

What needs to be done the most is rarely popular and rarely easy. There are many opportunities available in mainstream academics and activism, but going your own way and doing what you see as important and necessary will fill a void in the world that people perhaps didn’t even know needed filling.

Favorite place on campus

Dr. Baptiste's office on the third floor of the library. She has been my academic advisor and mentor all throughout college. I always leave her office with new insight and direction, as well as feeling refreshed, cared for, and listened to. She has been my rock through some very difficult points in my college career, and I am forever grateful for her caring heart and immense wisdom.

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