Interview with Miami Fellow, Constance Thurmond

Constance Thurmond, a MCC15 and Fellowship alumna, studied Philosophy and Mandarin at Miami Dade. Now, she is headed to Yale for the last two years of her undergraduate program. We were honored to interview her and learn from her as she reflected on her time as a MCN Fellow. 

Please note: the answers have been reformatted into the third person voice. 

I understand that you’re involved with the Human Rights Alliance at your college, how did you become interested in this work?

When Constance was sixteen years old, she attended a fundraising event to increase the awareness of local sex trafficking. She was faced with the horrors of sex trafficking inflicting the world, and especially, the area around her. She was appalled and shocked to learn that boys and girls, just like her, were ensnared in this monstrosity. Although she was at first dismayed by this information, she then became inspired to face this injustice head on, instead of shrinking in its enormity. In rearview, that was the moment that sparked her journey into the social impact sector. 

You attended the fellowship right after the conference, what was your initial motivation to beginning the fellowship?

Constance heard about the fellowship when she attended the 2015 MCN conference at the United Nations in New York. She learned that the fellowship would open up a new hubsite in Miami, where Constance went to school. As she had just been thrown into the position of  president of Human Rights Alliance, she felt insecure in her knowledge about organizations, leadership ability and to how to mobilize students. Passion was the only thing she was really sure of. After attending MCC15, she knew that the fellowship would give her the necessary skills to manage the club, get involved in the community and to truly make an impact, especially in combating sextrafficking. She wanted to be surrounded by a community that would encourage, teach and inspire her, which she found in the fellowship.

How has participating in the fellowship impacted you and your work?

Before the Fellowship, Constance had not had the chance to learn her strengths and weaknesses as a leader. By pairing the guidance of the fellowship with her newfound role as president of Human Rights Alliance, she was able to flex her pipes as an organizer, gain invaluable skills and have the supportive community needed to learn from her mistakes. Constance cites depth  as one of the most valuable aspects of the Fellowship. She was not only able to dig deeper into the topics presented at the conference, but also had the time and space to build meaningful relationships with the Fellowship community. This community or peers served as a network of connections, but even more so, was a collective of teachers and learners. For example, she found that the session “Facilitated Peer Feedback” gave her the opportunity to receive unbiased, new perspectives from her peers about problems on her campus and organization. This created an ebb and flow of reciprocity, always giving and receiving support. The tools that she gained from the fellowship seemed invaluable to her. She commented on the importance of discussing ethical dilemmas (she studied philosophy), diving deeper into leadership transitions, as well as budgeting and finances. She found that not only her club and her professional life grew from this experience, but her personal life also flourished and became more organized. In her own words: “It’s not just something you will apply to college, but will apply to life.”

What would the perfect world look like? 

Constance started glowing when asked this question. It is clear that the vision of the world as it should be, inspires her actions daily. She talks about a world where there would be no such thing as the sustainable development goals, because the world would not have the need for it. She dreams about a society that doesn’t have words for poverty, hunger and violence. And with a snicker, she adds that this utopia should include full-time access to candy that doesn’t make people “fat”. Most importantly though, it would be a place where people are simply nice to one another.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing the fellowship?

“I would encourage you to do it [...] if you are a person who wants to grow,” she says. Constance talks about how the fellowship provided her with an open space for learning, growing and evaluating.

One word to describe your work: Passionate

What was your favorite part of conference? Speakers