Mac’s Internship National Weather Service/NOAA | D.C.
Week 10: August 7, 2020
With lots of smiles and some not-so-dry eyes, this week marked the end of my internship with NOAA/NWS. After months of research, I had the exciting opportunity to present my final project (research paper; powerpoint) detailing the importance of satellite imagery in the forecasting and operational decisions of fire weather emergencies. During the first half of the week, I worked constantly on preparing for this final presentation. With the help of my two wonderful mentors Wendy and Pete, I was able to go a bit of an extra mile. On top of the presentation, I was also able to create a formal research paper detailing the findings of my study as well as compile a research archive of all my evaluations. These three works- the paper, the presentation, and research archive, totaled to many pages. All in all, it was incredible to see my hard work finally edited, completed, and compiled all together.
After running through my presentation what felt like a billion times, I finally had the opportunity to present Thursday afternoon. With the internship remaining virtual, all interns were asked to present on a major video call shared throughout the agency. As someone forever scared of large crowds, I was certainly nervous about jumping on a video call with 60-80 highly qualified people- especially with Dr. Uccellini, director of NWS, tuning in! However, I was excited to learn the day of that my mentors had invited many of the first responders, incident meteorologists, economists, and decision support specialists to come listen to my talk. As my time slot got closer and closer, it was amazing to receive such incredible emails of support from people I had worked with planning to tune into my research presentation- even the amazing Dr. Schoor, leader of the Sever Weather Program, wrote in to share his excitement about tuning into my presentation! In retrospect it may sound a bit cheesy, but having so many people tuning into the video just to support me and listen to my research made me a lot calmer. It felt like I was presenting to a bunch of friends! Overall my presentation went a lot better than expected. And I was super excited to get a lot of great questions and feedback from the NOAA community! Following the presentation, it was super nice to send off an email to all the amazing core partners I had the honor of working with thanking them for their attendance and sharing my final research. All in all, the day was a massive success!
Going forward, I’ve also been asked to give my presentation to some of the field offices local to California and the western region of NOAA. I’ll also be presenting my research at the American Meteorology Society’s annual conference, and plan to submit my research paper to the Duke Vertices science journal for publication. This upcoming school year, I’ll also continue working on my thesis mathematically modeling the decision process of triage through a case study of hurricane Katrina. Due to Juniors and Seniors being barred from returning to campus this school year, I’ll be remaining in DC to complete the semester virtually- it will be quite exiting to remain in the nation’s capital during such a historic time and a national election. Here, I’ll also be picking up a part-time virtual job (as alas students not residing in North Carolina cannot complete work study through Duke!) to continue my studies in mathematically modeling emergency response at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) through NOAA and Colorado State University. After all, an unusually strong hurricane season is coming up and goodness knows it’ll be all hands on deck!
All in all, my work with NOAA this summer has opened my eyes to so many new ways to protect the American public I hadn’t even realized. My endeavors in policy and mathematical work have always been to find better ways to save and improve the lives of so many individuals around the nation. NOAA and NWS have introduced me to the world of emergency management and disaster relief policy- a place where people are always in need of help in the face of dangerous atmospheric and climatological events. As someone seeking to save lives, loving predictive data science, in constant adorations of the human decision-making process, and with a bit more of an environmental background than I tend to discuss, finding this world has been an incredible life-changing experience!
Before signing off on (alas!) my last post as an AGS summer fellow, I want to take the time to thank some really amazing people. Thank you to Wendy and Pete for being the most amazing mentors I’ve had at an internship ever! Special thanks to the SPIRE community for helping me make this internship a possibility. A million thank you to the American Grand Strategy Program for nominating me as a summer fellow these past three years, letting me use this platform to talk about my summer experiences, as well as for the continuing support! Very special thanks to the remarkable Beth O’Brien for making this blog possible, the incredible Melanie Benson for all her support and help both in the present and past, and Dr. Feaver for tolerating my endless barrage of questions, ideas, and new directions. Throughout my three summers as an AGS summer fellow, I’ve had the privilege of learning under the guidance of these incredible individuals and I can’t thank them enough for their help in making all this possible.
Week 9: July 31, 2020
This week, I was excitedly able to continue finishing my final project write up for our NOAA/NWS presentations next week. Currently, my work investigating the intersection between satellite imagery and the forecasting and operational decisions surrounding the 2019 Kincade Fire is going quite well! I’m putting together a final power point presentation to share with the administration and fellow interns next week. In addition to this, I’ve decided to compile my findings into a formal report so that my conclusions and findings can be more easily accessible. While I must check with my internship coordinator about administrative rules, my hope is to be able to share a copy of the paper and/or presentation on this blog as well! Finally, I’m also putting together a compiled report of all the individual in-depth analyses and evaluations I’ve completed during my time here at NOAA/NWS. I’ve been excited to learn that many of the incident meteorologists, decision support individuals and Cal Fire first responders that I’ve talked with are planning on tuning into my presentation next week. As such, I want to have hard copy reports and papers to hand off to them before I leave. The idea that my work could have an influence on how people protect and plan against wildfires going forward is something I find so immensely fulfilling. I simply want to find a way for my work to help out as best as possible!
This summer has made me think a lot about the policy-based work I want to do in my career going forward. So far, interning with NOAA/NWS has allowed me to learn a lot more about the worlds of operational disaster relief and emergency policy. For so many years, I’ve wanted to go into defense in order to save lives by changing the way we fight wars- to improve military-based decisions in a way that can help save lives on both sides of a global political conflict. But I’ve found that in this unprecedented time where so many lives are being lost and so many political injustices are coming to light that my focus has widened a bit. For me, the world of policy has always been one to pursue in hopes of saving more lives. And I’ve begun to wonder if perhaps that same goal can be achieved just as prominently (if not more so) in the world of emergency policy. Or, perhaps, maybe emergency policy has something to teach the world of defense about humanely and ethically saving lives in times of crisis. Truly, I can’t say if my future will hold more emergency policy work or defense analysis. But what I am certain is that through the opportunities available to me currently, I’ve been given chances to use my research abilities to help change the way first responders protect the American public from wildfires. And for that I’m incredibly grateful. I hope to follow this new passion for learning about emergency policy as far as possible going forward and use my skills as a student of mathematics and policy to improve the world around me for the better.
Week 8: July 24, 2020
This week, our team had the opportunity to sit down with one of NOAA’s economic advisors. In doing so, our team learned a lot about how to best go about economically modeling the operational decisions made regarding the 2019 Kincade fire. During this process, I learned a lot about how economic modeling, much like game theory, can help first responders and emergency personnel make plans to evacuate populations and minimize both financial and physical damages. During this meeting, it was really interesting to learn more about how different forms of modeling could help advise the operational procedures during fire weather emergencies.
I’ve also had the opportunity this week to talk to some advisors and mentors (both at Duke and NOAA!) about the development of my senior year capstone thesis. As someone studying both mathematics and policy, I wanted to tackle a political decision-making pattern that could be modeled and advised upon using mathematical modeling. This summer, I’ve been really inspired by my work with emergency operations and making decisions that save the greatest number of citizens during situations of natural disaster. As such, I really want to study the concept of ‘triage’ from a mathematical standpoint. In general, first responders and emergency policy makers consider triage as the delegation of resources to optimize survival. However, people with higher survival potential (especially those in medical emergencies) are sometimes prioritized with greater importance than citizens/patients/areas/populations with lower expected probability of recovery. As such, this strategy often results in the removal of resources from those who arguably need it most in favor of optimizing the greatest number of survivors. By creating a mathematical model of this triage and doing a deep-dive into these operational structures, I want to see if there is a way to optimize survival while also getting resources to those who need them most. Very much in the style of the research I’m conducting currently, I want to do my thesis as a case study of a historic emergency. The triage came into direct scrutiny during Hurricane Katrina, when it was used to prioritize healthier medical patients over hurt ones. As such, I’m planning to study and mathematically model the triage structure of Hurricane Katrina. I’m very thankful to have my two advisors at NOAA- Pete and Wendy- as top tier experts on the subject. Pete served at the Pentagon during Katrina and Wendy has written extensively on the emergency responses during the hurricane. As such, they are incredible individuals to talk to about this. In addition, my major advisor, Dr. Hubert Bray (mathematics DUS) is very excited about the potential for this idea. Not only does he think this will be a great opportunity to learn more about mathematical modeling, but he is also excited about the potential applications of my work! All in all, I’m quite excited that I get to use my summer research as an inspiration for my thesis. To top it all off, I’m so unbelievably thankful for the amazing resources and people I’ve been able to meet through the NOAA Lapenta program. Here’s to yet another successful week of work!
Week 7: July 17, 2020
Throughout this week, I’ve also been preparing to enter the final stages of my internship. Through the William Lapenta Internship Program, each of us interns are expected to produce a project about the work we’re completing. As mentioned before, my work will be covering the importance of satellite data in both the prediction, forecasting, and emergency preparation surrounding the Kincade fire. By studying this prominent fire in American history and how satellites were used to help contain it, the report will give NOAA/NWS employees a better look at how to best utilize satellite data for fire weather prediction going forward. As someone thrilled about the work I’m doing, I’m coordinating with my mentor to do just a little bit more than my presentation. Having collected loads of data and conducted extensive evaluations of satellite data, imagery, and models, I want to compile my work into a formal report. While I’m very excited for my virtual presentation, I really want to be able to give a hardcopy version of my work to those who need it most. As a student hoping to go both into research and policy work, I also want to use this as a chance to practice my ability to write memos and debriefings, consolidating all the most important information into a condensed format. Going forward, I may look into getting my work published or submitted to a local Duke journal. I recently also learned that Cal Fire is producing a documentary surrounding the Kincade fire. It’s my secret hope that following my paper’s completion I could send it off to them as well. All in all, I’m looking forward to having all my research in one concise format.
This week, I also got to talk to Dr. Jack Soll of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, who Dr. Regnier was able to connect me with last week. At Duke, Dr. Soll studies both group and individual decision making as well as critical thinking. He’s a prominent scholar in the field of decision science and how it connects to operations research. As such, it was really exciting to sit down and talk with Dr. Soll about the world of decision science in emergency and management policy. He was able to give me a much clearer idea about what the field of decision science and operations research looks like in total. Coming from the behavioral side of management, Dr. Soll was also able to teach more about where more psychological and culturally based decision work is being done across the country. I was really thankful to learn more about what types of research were occurring where around the world! It was absolutely amazing to speak to this incredible Duke professor!
This week finished with yet another interview with incident meteorologists that experienced the Kincade fire firsthand and the NOAA decision support team. I continue to love learning more and more about both their unique perspectives and thoughts on how satellite data aided in the Kincade fire’s detection and prevention. All in all, it was a successful week! But I look forward to getting down to business with my final work next week!
Week 6: July 10, 2020
This week, I was really excited to speak with Dr. Eva Regnier of the Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Regnier specializes in defense management and does a lot of really interesting work in operations research and decision science. This week, I got to ask her more about her work and how she was able to find her way in the Operations Research and Decision Science world. It was really nice to learn a lot more about her perspectives of Operations Research and Decision Science as an academic field. After talking to her, I feel I have a really strong grasp on what the study looks like from a birds-eye view and the many different sub-topics being discussed currently. Dr. Regnier was also able to give me some amazing tips on applying to graduate school and is helping me reach out and connect with other individuals she knows to learn more about operations research jobs as they pertain to government and defense.
This week, I was also really excited to sit down with Genene Fischer, the program coordinator for our internship. Knowing that many of us want to go into government work, Genene was able to speak one on one with me about improvements I could make to my resume. She also gave me some tips and tricks for writing cover letters and in prepping for future job and graduate school operations! Overall, I really enjoyed hearing her insight and advice on the topic.
On Thursday, I was also able to talk with a few more IMETs that were present during the Kincade Fire. It was really interesting to get to learn more about their perspectives as first responders on the issue when it occurred back in 2019. One of the things I was excited to ask them about was how relocation efforts can be made easier for impoverished communities. After all, not everyone has a second home they can stay in or can afford to go to a hotel when they are rapidly asked to evacuate from their home. I was really excited to learn from the IMETs as well as members of Cal Fire that local emergency personnel help set up temporary shelters for individuals who have been evacuated. These shelters often times include cots, food, and can even be stocked with medical supplies. Often times, local emergency responders, law enforcement, and even the Red Cross all work together as separate institutions to provide available options for lower income residents. Going forward with my study, I want to put a stronger emphasis on making these resources more available to people in need as well as finding the best way possible to help populations with any form of relocation needed. Overall, I’ve been really thrilled to learn more about how decisions on a policy level have impacted the communities they’re directed at. In a bit of a ‘reverse engineering’ method, I hope to continue studying how to design evacuation policies to safeguard at-risk populations wherever they’re being affected by a natural disaster.
Week 5: July 2, 2020
This week, The NSW OSTI team that I’m involved with had the honor of interviewing two IMETs present during the Kincade fire disaster. An IMET, as I’ve come to learn, is an incident meteorologist who studies an ongoing natural disaster on site. For example, both Ryan and Brian (whom our team interviewed this past Thursday) are deployed much like soldiers amidst a weather crisis. They then work on-site, coordinating predictions and forecasts generated by the local weather offices and directing emergency management personal. Personally, I was quite interested in the IMET job myself- it seems like a fantastic combination of predictive mathematics and on-the-ground field policy work! From high risk decisions to utilizing mathematical models properly, the job of an IMET seemed both purposeful and exciting. Overall, it was quite fantastic to learn more about the Kincade fire from a first-person perspective by listening to both Ryan and Brian. In many cases, it was hard to hear how they both would need to leave their families from time to time to put themselves in harm’s way. But their tales of directly interacting with community members and adjusting emergency response protocol to populations all over California was both immensely interesting and satisfying. Personally, I was really relieved to hear that these individuals, instead of just enforcing emergency policy, actively work with the community at hand. From talking to community members individual to holding emergency town hall meetings, these IMETs work to facilitate emergency protocols that are specifically catered towards the community in question. Talk about some interactive operations research!
In addition to some interesting interviews, the William Lapenta Interns were also able to sit down with Mary Erickson, the Deputy Director for the National Weather Service. Ms. Erickson told us more about her background in weather as well as her prior education that prepared her for work. More than anything, I was quite excited to learn Ms. Erickson received an M.S. degree in Operations Research and Statistics. Upon introducing myself, she was quite excited to learn of my major’s OR focus and fixation on the decision sciences. It was amazing to learn more about Ms. Erickson’s background as it gave me confidence that operations research, decision science, and mathematical game theory do have a strong place in government. During this past week, I was also able to meet with Kevin Skow, the researcher who contributed heavily to building a mathematical model of an early-warning system for tornados. It was really amazing to sit down and learn more about how Mr. Skow had looked at the problem of creating early warning systems for dangerous EF0-EF5 tornadoes and turned it into a quantitative model. In my mathematical work, I find the hardest part to be converting real life scenarios into data. Mr. Skow was able to provide some very helpful insight into his process of creating quantitative models, and even encouraged me to play around with his model a little more. While the Kincade fire remains my primary objective here at NOAA, I do hope to spend some time learning more about creating early warning systems for tornadoes. Perhaps my mathematical background can help that project out as well!
Week 4: June 26, 2020
Hello from Washington D.C. once again! I hope all is well where you are. This week, I started in on my fourth week working for NOAA. Primarily, I’ve continued to make progress in my studies on the 2019 Kincade fire. I’ve been focusing more heavily on archived lightning strikes that occurred in the area during the time to help determine if the ignition was based on dry lightning (which is cloud to ground lightning that occurs without any rain, meaning conditions are still favorable for wildfires) or if it was due to human intervention. It’s been quite nice to see my project coming together!
This week, we also got to learn more about the military side of meteorology work. As I’ve been coming to learn, NOAA works hand in hand with FEMA a lot with regards to preparation and recovery efforts surrounding natural disasters. I was excited to learn more about the NOAA Corps this week: a group of soldiers/meteorologists who work both on the ground and out at sea to help with both prediction and relief efforts as they pertain to meteorology. This week, I also had the honor of talking with some Navy-specific meteorologists about their jobs, their work in operations, as well as the intersection between the Department of Defense and the National Weather Service. As a gal with one foot in the defense world and another in meteorology right now, it was super exciting to learn more about this amazing overlap and meet the people spanning both these fields!
This Friday, I and the other NOAA interns were also able to kick back and have a relaxing movie night. Using the Netflix Chrome Party Extension, we all finished off the week by watching Twister. For me, this was a bit of a dream come true. I’ve loved the movie since being a kid. Meteorology was what got me hooked on quantitative models in the first place, so this storm-prediction movie had always been one of my favorites. However, it was even better getting to watch this with a chatroom full of fellow meteorology nerds. From picking out the movie’s inaccuracies to laughing at its over the top drama, it was a wonderful experience. It’s been really fantastic to spend this summer, albeit virtually, with a group of students with such similar interests. As a Program II student, it’s sometimes easy for me to feel isolated in my field of study; It’s difficult that I can’t always relate as well to other students because the work I do doesn’t have anyone else in my major program. But here at NOAA, so many of my colleagues love mathematical modeling and decision science. As always, it’s amazing to learn about a wide spread number of fields that pertain to mathematics and the decision sciences. But at the end of the day (or the week for that matter!) it’s fantastic that “how’s the weather where you are” is MUCH more than just a phrase for small talk.
Week 3: June 19, 2020
Throughout the week, I’ve been working hard to learn more about the spread and ignition of wildfires across the country. Truly, it’s amazing how many different variables (such as relative humidity, the dryness of fuels, local terrain, heat, and wind) play into putting locations around the world at risk for dangerous fire weather. One of the most amazing things I learned this past week is that around 90% of wildfires are started by humans. To the political side of my brain, I can’t help but begin to think about wildfire ignition therefore being a policy issue. Fire weather is quite unique in the fact that it is one of the only natural disasters that is often human initiated. While much of my work has continued to be researching the meteorological and mathematical modeling side of fire weather, I can’t help but begin to brainstorm some possible social solutions to this more policy-oriented problem. I hope to continue thinking about this political issue and incorporate my interest of it into my final project.
I was also very excited to have an opportunity to meet one on one with Gregory Schoor, the program leader of the NOAA/NWS Severe Weather Program. Dr. Schoor does a lot of work studying the prediction and early warning systems surrounding Tornadoes from out at NWS Norman, Oklahoma. As a kid, the weather phenomena I was fascinated the most with was tornadoes. Growing up in Ohio, tornadoes were just a part of life, and I recall being very scared by a few tornadic storms. This fear of severe weather was what got me hooked on meteorology in middle school, and eventually lead to my love for mathematics and quantitative models. Meeting Greg was personally quite a geek-out moment for me, and it was amazing to talk to him individually about his efforts to improve early warning systems for tornadoes and super cells. I’m hoping to try and dedicate some of my time during the internship to learning more about his project and helping out where I’m able.
Additionally, the NOAA/NWS students also had an exciting opportunity to hold a virtual conference with our intern counterparts over at the NASA Goddard Space Center. For me, this was particularly exciting because it showed just how much overlap there was between the atmospheric and space sciences. My current project is heavily dependent on readings and information obtained from geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites. So you can imagine that it was really neat to meet the kids from another agency actively working to support the technological systems that make the work I’m aiding in possible! Originally, I had been scared none of us students would have much in common- my fellow interns and I joked about the meeting becoming a ground versus space terf-war between the two sets of interns. But in reality, it was amazing to bond over our similar love for mathematical modeling, geospatial imaging, and atmospheric science. As someone who has been interested in space command and the operation research components of space flight, it was very exciting to learn that there are other students out there who share my same passion for decision science.
All in all, this week was a successful one! I very much enjoyed being able to learn more about the science behind creating algorithms and math models that predict the spread of wildfires as well as learning more about my department, NOAA/NWS, and its interplay with other government atmospheric administrations. I greatly look forward to see what next week brings!
Week 2: May 14, 2020
This summer, I’m working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA for short. Within NOAA, my internship falls jointly under the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Office of Science and Technology Integration (OSTI). As many are familiar with, the National Weather Service works to predict weather phenomenon all across the United States. It is the additional job of OSTI to integrate new forms of science and technology into the work of the National Weather Service.
Here at NWS, I was brought on as an intern primarily due to my joint work with mathematical models and the decision sciences. Excitingly, mathematical modeling is used immensely to help predict the spread of weather phenomena. By taking in atmospheric variables such as humidity, temperature, pressure changes, and terrain conditions through use of satellites and field scientists, mathematical models can help predict or determine the trajectory of weather all around the world, or in some cases help advise upon weather-based decisions. My work in the decision sciences also plays a strong role in weather prediction. An essential part of working at NWS is determining appropriate public warnings and even evacuation procedures for communities in harm’s way of a weather phenomenon. Through use of decision sciences and my work in policy, I’m able to contribute to this effort of protecting citizens from dangerous weather.
Under NWS and OSTI, I’m working with my mentor Peter Roohr. With his help and guidance, I’ll be putting together a project to present on my final day of the internship. My project will be working to study the case of the 2019 Kincade Fire- a wildfire that spread across northern California, destroyed a good many miles of land, and displaced nearly 200,000 people from their homes. In studying this case, I’ll be diving into the weather data NOAA and NWS collected before, during, and after the fire as well as talking to emergency responders, fire fighters, and meteorologists involved in the case. It’s my hope that the project I’m working on can help increase more understanding about the rapid and dangerous spread of wildfires across the western United States as well as help implement better emergency and evacuation policies. In lieu of the many recent protests and social movements bringing to light problems with America’s justice system, I want a good portion of my report to focus on how to appropriately go about keeping all citizens safe during emergency weather situations. My hope is to focus and advise upon how to appropriately evacuate lower-income communities during wildfires, provide temporary housing, supplies and food during the crisis, and aid in the community’s recovery due to the fire event. I believe that decision science can prove to be very useful in finding way to best accommodate policy to the needs of local communities.
As I continue to learn more about the 2019 Kincade fire, I hope to put my skills in mathematical modeling, decision science, and activism to the test. I am very grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to see where the remaining weeks take me!
Week 1: May 7, 2020
This summer, I’m writing to you from Washington, D.C.- a place that has become a beating heart in our nation during these troubling times despite prominent protests starting elsewhere and occurring all over the country. As the days come and go, it is as if I can feel the plethora of emotions- hurt, fear, sadness, and anger- almost emanating from our nation’s capital and reverberating across communities all over the world. It’s both a painful yet dynamic time to be alive.
Truthfully, I’d adore to open a word doc and write a soothing post about calming first-week virtual icebreakers and life as an intern at NWS. But ignoring the current state of events would be doing a disservice to the important movements occurring all around the world. While starting a new job is as exciting as ever, problematic aspects of existing government power structures are being challenged at a magnitude that feels so much more pressing and urgent.
My goal in being a government employee from the get-go has always been to change the system from the inside, but I’ve become aware over the previous years of how important it is not to be a complicit part of systemic racism. Thus, as a student involved and employed in the political sphere, I feel it is important to have discussions about everything going on. Yet, I struggle to find the words to describe it all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written and rewritten this post in the first place. But if there is one thing I’ve learned these past few days about being a good ally to the many ongoing movements at hand, it’s of the importance in stepping back and letting other voices be heard. There are so many in our nation who have been the victims of oppressive power structures in the United States. These systemic issues exist, and I want to acknowledge them head-on.
I struggle to speak on these movements because, while I’m an ally, this is not my movement to speak for. In order to honor this sentiment, the majority of my post this week will be a list of resources on how to get involved in the fight for justice around our nation. In learning on how to be a better ally this week, the following resources have provided tremendous educational aid. So I hope these voices can finally be heard by you as well:
Contribute to the official George Floyd Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd?fbclid=IwAR2sHB8SNnE6eGTqbJcXmKoPq4RrMSCvIu3L7fvx5WNWHZFtsufJZ2E85Ts
…or the Minnesota Freedom Fund: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/donate?fbclid=IwAR2YwxOnqnT4k8lvOP-Jfn5cHzaIFU7UHt8IqY3v4-0emJvJ5T5fUN8Tww4 (please note however that the Minnesota Freedom Fund is encouraging individuals to donate to other institutions as they’ve received many donations).
Check out Reclaim the Block’s website and ongoing missions as they work to make the Minneapolis community safer by relocating money from the police into other community needs: https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/?fbclid=IwAR1I600_osHUAehm43qF91gfgnBrLWO-8OdYcbZfv3d1GSeuJ9ApikXEAzg
Join and donate to Color of Change online. This wonderful organization has made incredible strives in the Black Lives Matter movement through public donations as well as by creating online petitions that have helped make significant leaps forward in current legislation: https://colorofchange.org
You can even contribute financially to the Black Lives Matter movement without needing to donate- simply let this video play on your computer. It is full of ads and as such the video will rack up money on YouTube. All funds will then be donated to organizations supporting the movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM
You can find resources to donate and support black artists at the following webpage: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/where-to-donate-black-lives-matter-1879701 You can also learn more about how to best support black-owned businesses in this article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elisabethbrier/2020/06/05/75-black-owned-businesses-to-support/#1f953f463814 Please note that this is only a small sampling of black professionals to support. Dive into the news in your community to learn more about local black businesses and artists that you can support.
Join in on local protests in person to the best of your ability.
Learn more about how you can be a better ally to the movement in the following articles below: https://insidethekandidish.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/dear-white-people-this-is-what-we-want-you-to-do/?fbclid=IwAR0au2wNnbTQ35Pcge2hzeG0REcXKsHBZaQUteNKURR8MgdTLpkTmBmgWyA or https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/non-optical-ally-guide (please note this is only a small sampling of all the resources about becoming a better ally. But these two links should help you on your journey to find more resources.)
Follow Black Lives Matter Durham on Facebook. To the best of your ability, participate in their virtual and in-person events.
Join Duke’s Anti-Racism Book Club. You can follow them at @dukearbc on Instagram. This month we’re reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
Local students have also started a community art drive, whose entire profits go to the Freedom Fund, Bail and memorial funds. You can support them on Instagram at @communityartdrive.
The @vibesofablackgirl Instagram page posts daily to educate its followers on how to combat systemic racism, as well as details the personal experiences of black women. Their page is insightful in learning to be an ally and in understanding the challenges faced by black women around the world. Give them a follow for more important discourse.
Talk to the leaders of Duke clubs you’re involved with about donating remaining funds to current movements. Similarly, contact the Student Organization Finance Committee at email@example.com to ask if your club can donate their annual allocated funds to important foundations.
In order to support our local community during the COVID-19 crisis, consider donating to the Durham Mutual Aid Relief Fund: https://durhammutualaid.org/get-support/
Similarly, if you’re a Duke student or in the Duke Community, join the Duke Mutual aid Facebook group and consider making a donation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220471129333286/
If you are a Duke Student and you are in need of financial assistance during the COVID-19 crisis, you can apply for financial aid through the Duke Student Assistance Fund: https://today.duke.edu/2020/04/duke-student-assistance-fund-now-open-applications
Recent events have caused a lot of trauma in local communities. If you are a Duke student who is need of emotional support, you can see a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist free of charge through telehealth using Blue Devils Care: https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/caps/how-we-can-help/bluedevilscare
With many current protests coinciding with June, which is often celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride month, many are remembering the importance of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and their connection with today’s situation. This pivotal event was led by Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, and capitalizes on the importance of protesting. To learn more about this event that revolutionized the way our nation protests and supports the LGBTQ+ community, read The Stonewall Reader by Edmund White and the New York Public Library. Support the local LGBTQ+ community by getting involved with Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD) and the LGBTQ+ center of Durham. You can join in on a plethora of virtual events.
…And there are so many more resources I haven’t even mentioned! Here are a few final lists of ways to get involved compiled by other Duke students here on campus:
Please check out Maram Elnagheeb’s google doc that lists bail and legal funds by city that are in need of financial donations: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X4-YS3vFn5CLL9QtJSU0xqmTh_h8XilXgOqGAjZISBI/edit?usp=sharing
Check out Jiahui Shen’s post in the Duke Memes page listing countless other organizations in need of support that are aiding in the Black Lives Matter movement and looking to help with the COVID-19 crisis: https://www.facebook.com/groups/558651131001969/permalink/1312425915624483/
Check out Autumn Gupta and Bryanna Wallace’s incredible Justice in June google doc (shared locally by María Zurita Ontiveros), which provides a massive amount of resources that can help you educate yourself on becoming an ‘active ally to the black community’. The document’s resources have also been sorted based on the amount of time you can commit to educating yourself each day- 10 minutes, 25 minutes, or 45 minutes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H-Vxs6jEUByXylMS2BjGH1kQ7mEuZnHpPSs1Bpaqmw0/preview?fbclid=IwAR2Zu6uxJp81mocH0-FXhgXTT6R_F0Emobtwc5Eu1E49VCqcZ_v5nwFUbNM&pru=AAABcp6fmDY%2APctok42SnIkw5UWG403EEA
To my fellow students going into policy- now is not the time for us to be silent and apathetic. Share the messages of the marginalized students and groups around us and implement them into your work. Speak up about these issues at home, in your social groups, and (most importantly) at your workplace no matter how uncomfortable it seems. Participate in these movements around the nation to the best of your abilities; protest if you’re able. Work to educate yourselves so you can help forward this important social change. Being complicit is turning a blind eye from those who need help. Policymakers, we are government servants. And that is a part of our job description we must never forget.