On November 23rd of this year, I had the honor of being appointed to the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet of Minnesota.
The Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet brings together nonprofits, businesses, and government to improve equity in outcomes for young women in Minnesota who experience the greatest disparities.
This cabinet has been a work in progress for years, but nowhere would approve it until Minnesota. It wasn’t approved until Minnesota because no government officials were on board until Governor Dayton. As soon as the idea was pitched to him, he was on board!
If our action plan works, this cabinet will be starting in many other states as well and for those of us in the cabinet, we will be a part of history.
There are about twenty five women on this cabinet, ranging from ages of 16 to 24 who are working with me to create an action plan to strengthen services and areas that are already working for women in Minnesota.
It is seldom I feel proud of myself but being appointed to this cabinet is one of those moments. My voice didn’t seem important until now.
But getting appointed to this cabinet a few short weeks after the election was conflicting for me in many ways.
Being a part of this cabinet was the hope that I needed in humanity and in the world I live in.
There’s a phrase that says ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ and the election had me feeling as if my cup had run permanently dry.
After a few weeks of feeling absolutely empty post-election and then getting to be a part of this cabinet, it felt like the cup I pour from was overflowing.
But how does one keep faith in the work they’re doing when the world at large is actively working against them?
I have always believed in people and that they hold the power.
To maintain my full cup, I needed to be a part of this cabinet working to create change in a world that so desperately needs it.
At the first cabinet meeting, we each spoke about what made us decide to apply for a position on the cabinet. As each woman went around the room sharing what brought them to this cabinet, I had hope in the people around me and faith in the fact that people still care.
Each woman that spoke has known various forms of struggles and disparities. Each of the women has the desire to create a better world for all the people in it. Their passions ranged from healthcare disparities to racial profiling and beyond. Even though we all had different issues that brought us to this cabinet, we were a room full of people who cared. The amount of empathy and passion in that room was enough to empower anyone.
It was everything I needed to hear. Being in a room so filled with passion, I felt my cup overflow.
And I recommend becoming a part of something to everyone who is feeling their cup has run dry.
Surround yourself with people who care and have passion to create change like you do because you are not alone. You are not the only one who feels empathy for others or has a desire to change the way that our world is going. And there is nothing more than to fill your cup up with hope.
Hope in the people around you.
There are more of us out here fighting for good than you think.
So my advice is to do whatever you can to find people like this because they do exist.
And people have the power.
We just forget that.
Grace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism.