Hi everyone! I’m Kate Weishaar, a junior in the architecture department here at MIT. I consider myself a designer and an activist, and I hope this class will give me more experience combining the two. My extracurricular work includes being Junior Design Editor for Technique, MIT’s yearbook, and being a mentor for Maker Lodge, a new initiative at MIT to train incoming freshmen to use machine shops safely and effectively.
I grew up in Germantown, Maryland, a reasonably diverse suburb of Washington, DC. From a young age, I valued a diverse group of teachers and classmates as a key part of my education, but began to notice disparities in how students are treated based on gender, race, and mental illnesses. As someone who has worked closely with many people struggling with gender identity and mental illness, I have always tried to help support and advocate for students in similar conditions, primarily on a personal level. Particularly in today’s political climate, I would like to expand my efforts to a more institutional level and take more steps to change the culture surrounding gender and mental illness, starting in public schools.
A group I find inspiring is School Girls Unite, an organization based in a town near where I grew up. Initially formed by a group of 12-year-old girls, the group has worked to bring quality education to girls around the world, but specifically have started an initiative in Mali to provide scholarships for girls who cannot afford to attend school. By working directly with a partner organization in Mali, they have succeeded in efficiently delivering funds and can continuously check on the scholarship students to make sure they continue to benefit fully. In addition to the scholarships, they also use their close proximity to DC to advocate for educational policies and act as a member of the Global Campaign for Education – US.