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Rachel Lewis – EFFECT

Name: Rachel Lewis

Age: 22

Major: English (Creative Writing & Professional Writing and Rhetoric)

Minor: Women’s/Gender Studies

Favorite movie: Away We Go

Favorite book: The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee by Paisley Rekdal 

Favorite quote: “I belong deeply to myself.” Warsan Shire

What organizations are you involved in on campus? 

I’m a Co-President of EFFECT, Elon’s feminist organization and an intern for Elon Volunteers!.

Why do you think feminism is important on a college campus? 

Feminism becomes so hugely important in college because, for a lot of people, it’s our chance to step outside of what we were taught, not just by our families, but by our home communities. In college, I think that we’re meant to learn that our perspective is not the only one that matters, and that our perspectives are very often limiting. To me, feminism is all about recognizing that fact and doing something with that knowledge. It’s about understanding that acting like everyone is the same often privileges other groups way more than others, and going out and doing something to even the playing field for us all. Feminism empowers students from marginalized groups to think more critically but also to be more authentically themselves – and I think that’s something all college students can benefit from.

What inspired your creation of The Fem? 

Autumn Spriggs & I created The Fem because we were sick of reading literature where we didn’t see ourselves. I wanted to read more queer women, more women of color, and more women in general, and we just weren’t seeing that level of diversity in many literary magazines and journals. We’d been talking about it for months before deciding to just go for it this past summer, and I couldn’t be happier with the project. 

Of all the work you’ve done at Elon, what are you most proud of? 

I think I’ll always be proud of the pivotal role that I know I’ve played in both re-developing and sustaining EFFECT. It’s been one of those organizations (like many others at Elon) that has kind of faded in and out of existence without really making an impact, and I wanted it to be something big. I think it has totally exploded in the past two years. We’ve had these ridiculously incredible discussions, and also taken on really big ideas and made them a reality. I’m proud of the dedication I continuously see with both old and new members, and the openness we all have as a group. I think that Elon needs to be (and WANTS to be) shaken up and taken away from traditional norms that leave all of us feeling suffocated, and I think that EFFECT will continue to play a role in us making that shift.

What’s the legacy you hope to leave behind? 

I want to leave behind a legacy of critical thinking, thoughtfulness, good listening and kindness. I want to leave behind an Elon that is more willing to ask questions and challenge higher ups, but is always down to listen, learn and collaborate. I couldn’t have done anything that I’m proud of at Elon without the support of my peers, staff, faculty and administration, and I want those layers to continue to mix and mingle until we all end up with a version of Elon that we’re proud of.

What are your plans for after graduation? 

Ah, the loaded question. Instead of really answering you, I’ll just tell you where I’d like to be: I want to be a sex education teacher for at least a few years, get my MFA in Creative Nonfiction, and get my Ph.D in Queer Studies. Then, I’d like to be a professor and teach creative writing and gender studies courses.

Any advice for Elon feminists/volunteers/writers? 

Go for it. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that what you’re doing isn’t valuable, refuse unsupportive friends, ignore negative people who tell you that the world will never change and that you may as well give up. Feminism changes things, activism changes things, volunteering changes things and writing changes things. Find what you’re good at and get better and keep doing that – but remain critical, and take feedback as it comes. You never know what it’ll take for your perspective to widen.

Elon senior. Feminist. Interests: reading, sitcoms led by female characters, fancy tacos, singing loudly in my car, movie theater outings.
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