Sage Lalor (she/her) is a St. Lawrence University student who is designing her own major multi-field major called Perpetuating Systems of Privilege and Oppression. She took part in the Adirondack Semester Program during the fall of 2021 making her an Outdoor Studies major, and plans to study abroad with the Kenya Semester fall of 2022 which will give her an African Studies minor. When on campus, she is a part of the Outing Club, SLU Close the Loop and works as a certified Outdoor Program Guide and manages the gear room.
This summer I worked for Main Street Alliance of Vermont, an advocacy nonprofit organization with a mission of elevating the voices of small business owners on important public policy issues in Vermont. MSA-VT is committed to bringing historically oppressed business owners to the table to engage in and develop policies that reflect the communities they serve. My job was to be the MSA-VT Field Organizer. I conducted outreach to small business owners to hear their thoughts and perspectives on the policies we are pushing, and bring them into the advocacy work. During the 8 weeks I connected 54 small business owners in Burlington, Vermont with our advocacy network and performed over 120 intensive interviews to make sure we are being representative to those who don't have the capacity to get involved. I also helped organize and manage two events for local business owners to come together to talk about their experiences and brainstorm solutions for their communities. My supervisor, Morgan Nichols, and I put together a game plan for these members to effectively get involved to fight for politics that directly impact them come the legislative session in January.
Other than supporting the MSA-VT team organize small business owners, I learned a lot about what it means to work in the advocacy field. I not only learned what mission-driven work is like, but also how it relates to political scope in society. I also learned about the opportunities and limits that my demographic brings to the work. I was fortunate enough to meet with other mentors in Burlington that have offered continual mentorship to progress my academic and occupational careers. I now have experience in the field, mentors and connections I can call on for support, a wider scope of how I can interact with society in a meaningful way, and more passion than ever about facilitating beneficial change in my communities around me.