Callan Showers, '19
Reflecting on Four Years of Cardinal Service
The Cardinal Service initiative began my freshman year, in the fall of 2015. I am so thankful I made a lasting service commitment right away, by joining a Cardinal Commitment organization called Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE).
The Stanford women in WYSE facilitate weekly mentorship sessions for middle school girls in East Palo Alto and discuss topics like puberty, women's empowerment, race and discrimination, and sexual health.
I was persuaded to apply because it seemed like a way for me to expand my sense of community and purpose at and around Stanford. This couldn't have been truer. Engaging with the East Palo Alto community and its middle schoolers through WYSE has taught me innumerable lessons about cultural humility, community action, education justice, and leadership.
I also had the chance to engage with the broader Bay Area through the Cardinal Course, From Gold Rush to Google Bus: History of San Francisco. We worked with a community partner to identify little-known stories about the city's history and write articles for an online historical database. I got to nurture intellectual interests through experiences such as digging through archives in the San Francisco Public Library, while also contributing to a community-based project with lasting impact. It also helped me realize that you don't have to be from a place to help shape its history.
While these experiences connected me to parts of the local area, Cardinal Service programs also helped me serve in the place I have always called home: Minnesota.
The summer after my sophomore year, I received the Advancing Gender Equity Fellowship from the Haas Center and Women's Community Center to work as a legal intern at Gender Justice, a public interest law firm in St. Paul. Gender Justice represents clients who have experienced gender discrimination or sexual harassment, and I got an inside look into legal proceedings such as depositions, while also getting the chance to draft policy advocacy memos and see the inner workings of a nonprofit.
This Cardinal Quarter inspired me to pursue public interest law because of how well it fit my skills and my desire to make change. I am pursuing a two-year position as a paralegal at a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. I truly believe without the values of community-engaged learning experiences and the way I saw my personal and professional values and skills align at Gender Justice, I would be less prepared to enter into this work and my life beyond.