Julia Gray

Before we went on this trip, Ms. Plows told us something like, “When you are in your sessions and St. Louis you are going to be uncomfortable, but you are going to learn.” 

She was right.

When I had to navigate talking to the Student Press Law Center without Ms. Plows, I was unsure of myself.

When I had to “mother goose” my staff members around the conference, I was nervous about the responsibility. 

These feelings, although not pleasant at the time, ignited the learning process. 

If I didn’t go to SPLC without Ms. Plows, I would have never met Hillary, their Advocacy and Organizing Director, who has been one of the nicest and most helpful people I have ever met. I also wouldn’t have met Mike, one of SPLC’s legal counsel, an invaluable resource. 

Being the “mother goose” to the team bonded us, and, hopefully, solidified me as a person they can come to for advice or help. 

Overall, if I didn’t step outside of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be able to build connections or a team. 

In my sessions, if I didn’t ask questions, I wouldn’t get the answers. It sounds obvious, but it is true. You have to make yourself known to get what you want. 

In one of my first sessions, I arrived pretty late. I had to sit towards the back and I really couldn’t hear the speaker. I made it work, but I couldn’t get much out of the experience. So, after that session, I took care to get there early and sit near the front. 

I hope that I and my team bring back this boldness. I hope we continue to sit in the front of the rooms, and that we are the ones who continue to ask questions. I am so proud of the work we’ve done, and I can’t wait to see what else we create. 

Meeting with SPLC during the convention