Did you know? The Equitas Project offers internships year-round. These internships offer in-depth experience in the mental health and criminal justice advocacy arena. This summer at Equitas, we have two undergraduate interns and one master’s practicum student working with us. Learn more about undergraduate intern Sarah Wiener below.
Sarah Wiener, Undergraduate Student, Tufts University
Concentrations: Philosophy, Political Science; Minor in Colonialism Studies
1. What do you love most about Colorado?
I don’t think I truly appreciated Colorado until I moved away for school. The state has an unusual blend of accessibility to nature and to city life. I’ve never been to another place where I can go skiing or hiking in the morning and be back home in time for dinner in the city. Also, I’m not sure if it’s our proximity to nature, or something in the high-altitude air, but for whatever reason, people in Colorado are overwhelmingly kind. That’s one of my favorite parts of Colorado.
2. What are your concentrations in school and why did you choose them?
I am pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Political Science with a minor in Colonialism Studies at Tufts University. The study of philosophy can help me formulate thoughts on what an ideal society should look like. That is, what is truly ethical and right. However, I also wanted an understanding of how to put those ideas into practice; thus, my interest in political science. Finally, since these disciplines can overlook specific issues related to subjugation or can themselves ignore and displace certain groups disproportionately, Colonialism Studies will allow me to learn about how leadership, even with the best of intentions, can still produce inequities, cultural imperialism, and gendered violence among other issues. In sum, I hope my studies will lead me into a position of ethical and responsible public leadership in the future.
3. What interested you about interning with Equitas?
One of my biggest takeaways thus far from college has been that the strict and absolute categorization of issues is a bad thing. In other words, it is irresponsible to study politics in isolation of economics, or peace without reference to war, feminism while disregarding race, etc. As I have grown increasingly interested in race and my own privilege as I’ve progressed in my education, I have looked deeper and deeper into what mechanisms institutionalize inequality, and more specifically the incarceration system. I am so excited for my work at Equitas because it is an opportunity to explore my interests in racial inequity and incarceration in an intersectional and responsible way. Mental health and the criminal justice system are deeply intertwined and I think my internship with Equitas will be a gateway into understanding each issue in a nuanced way.
4. What types of projects will you be working on?
I look forward to working on a multitude of projects this summer. First, I will lend my perspective to increasing community outreach and involvement. I will also research existing policies, metrics and benchmarks for supporting mental health in childhood, health care, education, employment, and housing, especially regarding reduced justice involvement and incarceration. Additionally, I will assist Equitas with their work to engage stakeholders at a grassroots level.
5. At this time, what your goals for after you graduate?
After I graduate, I hope to go to law school and later enter a career in public policy. One day I hope to be the head of the Department of Education.
6. Who or what inspires you?
My two older brothers inspire me. They both took roundabout paths to end up living in San Francisco, establishing happy and successful lives there. They have shown me that pursuing genuine interests and passions is enough to reach long-term goals. They are strong role models that inspire me to challenge myself.
7. What are you currently reading or watching?
I just finished Chang-Rae Lee’s A Gesture Life which is about a Korean man’s life and identity after being forced to assimilate into Japanese culture and fight for Japan in WWII. The subject matter is dark and his flashbacks are graphic, but the writing is incredible and constantly leaves the reader questioning the protagonist’s reality. I’m also watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. What better way to unwind than watching people bake, drink tea, and talk in British accents?
8. You are on the swim team for Tufts University and you coach swimming. What first got you interested in the sport, and what do you like most about it?
I began swimming competitively my first year of high school when I tried out for, and did not make, the school’s volleyball team. I had swum for a summer club when I was much younger and decided to give it another try. My obsession with the sport grew from that decision. I love that swimmers are forced to push themselves to their mental and physical limits at every practice and meet. There is no one else that can make you better, all of the responsibility in achieving success or experiencing failure rests squarely on your own shoulders. Swimming has taught me so much. I am excited to coach other young swimmers this summer and impart that joy and empowerment onto them.
9. Three things you can’t live without?
- My planner. I would be lost without my to-do lists and daily schedules.
- I probably eat more apples than I do any other food.
- They don’t need to be nice or fancy, but my earphones are a portal into productivity. I can convert any space into a work space with them.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.