Abrianna Morales has spent her time at the University of New Mexico lobbying for political change and advocating for survivors of sexual violence. She graduates with a double major in psychology and criminology and said she already has big things on the horizon.
Morales plans to stay in the Albuquerque area and continue her advocacy work with the National Organization for Victim Assistance. She also plans to continue her advocacy with the organization she started, Sexual Assault Youth Support Network, and her relationship with UNM.
“I’ll be staying here in Albuquerque after graduation to work with NOVA on the launch of the youth advocacy board, and we’re partnering with UNM — among other colleges — to do that. So, I’ll be very much continuing my connection to UNM with my advocacy work,” Morales said.
Following graduation, Morales will manage a new program through NOVA that focuses on youth advocacy and assistance, utilizing university partnerships. This program is funded by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, which provides victims of crime with additional resources, Morales said.
“NOVA recently got a grant from the OVC to fund the launch of a Youth Advocacy Corps,” Morales said. “We’re partnering with five universities throughout the U.S. to develop and launch a fellowship for marginalized undergraduate students to become trained as victim advocates and do a year-long paid placement in a community agency as a victim advocate. My role is program manager, so I’ll be in charge of running that for the next three years.”
She will not let her busy schedule prevent her from continuing to lobby for political change, Morales said. Though none of the bills Morales and SAYSN had been advocating for surrounding sexual violence survivors passed, she has not given up on making legislative changes for survivors of sexual violence.
“Unfortunately none of the bills that we were advocating for on behalf of sexual violence survivors made it any farther than the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Morales said. “I think that our next step is really interrogating why the Senate Judiciary Committee seems to be the stopping point for a lot of the bills that support survivors in New Mexico.”
During her time at UNM, Morales has had the opportunity to conduct her own research with faculty support. This experience, Morales said, has been valuable to her and has changed some of her ideas about advocacy.
“The highlights of having been at UNM are the people that I’ve had the chance to work with and meet,” Morales said. “A lot of my undergraduate research has been done with faculty mentors, and as I get ready to graduate and move on, I’m really thankful for all the guidance, and mentorship, and their facilitation of my entering into the world of research and seeing research as a type of victim advocacy or as an extension of the advocacy work that I’ve done.”
Morales said her experiences at UNM have been rewarding and she hopes that others can find inspiration in her advocacy for survivors and work on their own passion projects.
“I’m happy to have made an impact and hopefully help other students in the future make an impact,” Morales said.
Detroit Kallunki is a Senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.
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