How Laura Reid Turned Her Passion for Activism and Academia into a New Line of Work

The LAUNCH office congratulates Former Student, Laura Reid ‘16, who was recently accepted into the University of Houston to pursue a Master’s degree in the Graduate College of Social Work! During her time at Texas A&M, Laura was heavily involved in the University Honors Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis program. We spoke with Laura about her latest accomplishments and how her involvement with the LAUNCH office helped her get where she is today. 

Laura Reid ’16

Laura, how did you end up at Texas A&M?

“After I graduated from high school, my dad was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I wanted to attend a school close to my family. I had plans to become a military psychologist, and Texas A&M’s reputation as a Tier 1 research university and its history as a military college appealed to me. What really made me excited about going to Texas A&M was attending Transfer Camp (T-Camp). Shout-out to Camp Carter (“Carter camps harder!”) and DG “Tests Not Included.”

What have you been doing since you graduated in 2016?

“After I graduated from Texas A&M in 2016, I accepted a 2-year AmeriCorps position with Teach For America Baltimore. I had the opportunity to complete a Master of Science in Education while teaching full-time. I taught 6th-8th grade math, 8th grade social studies, and 9th and 10th grade English. After I graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2019, I gave myself a gap year to focus on my mental and physical health. I realized that my passion lies at the intersection of academia and activism. I took a leap and decided to pursue a career in social work so I could provide a broader range of advocacy services to individuals and communities. I am excited to share that I was accepted into the master’s program at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work starting Fall 2020. My studies and fieldwork will focus on sexual violence education, prevention, and advocacy.”

Laura giving the Texas A&M Class of 2016 Commencement Speech

What are you doing now?

“I serve as a Revolutionary for Happy Teacher Revolution (HTR), a Baltimore-born, international movement with the mission to support the mental health and wellness of teachers. I joined HTR as a participant, and as I grew as an educator and self-care advocate, I applied to and joined HTR’s international cohort of Revolutionaries. As the Baltimore community leader, I led monthly support group meetings for a three-state region. I also represented HTR at public functions such as the 2019 Progressive Education Summit. My contributions enabled HTR to be awarded $15,000 in funding from the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab Impact and Innovation Forum. Now, I recruit members for the Happy Teacher Revolution movement and develop blog content for the TeachersConnect website. I also serve as a Development Team Member and LGBTQ+/Gender Identity Leader for the Sexual Assault Advocacy Network (SAAN), whose mission is to reduce sexual violence by supporting the people working to achieve that vision. In this capacity, I support SAAN in centering LGBTQ+ survivor experiences, empower LGBTQ+ survivor advocates with leadership opportunities, and connect ally advocates with educational opportunities. I also moderate SAAN’s social media group and co-lead the monthly #SAANsexuality webinar.”

In what aspects of the University Honors Program did you participate ? 

“I participated in the Honors Fellows Program (University Honors), Liberal Arts Cornerstone Honors Program, Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars Program/ LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis (Summer 2014), Undergraduate Research Scholar Capstone (2014 – 2015), and Undergraduate Teacher Scholar Capstone (2015 – 2016). I presented my thesis “Aggie by Choice; Campus Innovator by Necessity”—which called on Texas A&M leadership to address the impact of rape culture on our campus and require all students to complete Title IX / consent workshops—at Student Research Week (2015) and won second place in the Health, Nutrition, Kinesiology, Physiology category.”

What are your favorite memories from your time at Texas A&M? 

“I have a lot of favorite memories from my time at Texas A&M! Two memories that immediately come to mind for me are my Aggie Ring Day and graduation. Receiving my ring was a special experience for me because my whole family was able to attend. When I look at my ring, I think about my family, my perseverance, and my lifelong connection to the Aggie Network. Graduating was a special experience for me because I achieved a huge personal success. When I started college, I was so terrified of public speaking that I cried the entire time I presented at a prestigious research conference. At graduation, I spoke confidently in front of thousands of people, delivering the Student Expression of Appreciation.”

How did your experience at Texas A&M shape your career path?

“My experience at TAMU and in Honors changed my career path. When I enrolled at TAMU, I had plans to become a military psychologist. After researching sexual assault at TAMU, I felt compelled to get certified as a victim advocate at the Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center. I supported a diverse group of survivors through hotline calls and hospital accompaniments, during law enforcement interactions, and even during active incarceration. I also led consent workshops with other members of Feminists for Reproductive Equity & Education (F.R.E.E.) (formerly Aggies for Reproductive Justice). In 2016, TAMU awarded F.R.E.E. a $3500 IIDEA Grant to fund consent workshops. As an alumnus, I continued this work through the organization 12th Woman, which directly influenced recent policy and procedure changes at TAMU. These experiences at the intersection of academia and activism ultimately led me to pursue a career in social work.”

What advice would you give to current students? 

Self-care is professional development. Joining Happy Teacher Revolution as one of the 93% of teachers who experience overwhelming levels of stress changed my entire perspective on service. You can dramatically improve your life by learning the difference between self-care and self-numbing. Thanks and gig ‘em!

How did your time in Glasscock and URS impact your career trajectory?

My time as a Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar had a significant impact on my career trajectory and the way I think about my future. Before I got involved in undergraduate research, I had planned out a completely different academic career that was honestly way less interesting. In April 2014, my Philosophy of Literature professor Dr. Daniel Conway invited me to join the Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars program. For two weeks, I participated in an intensive seminar called Faces of Evil in Philosophy, Religion and Literature, learning about portrayals of evil and why they are ultimately flawed. For the next eight weeks, I developed a thesis research topic for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. I researched campus sexual assault as a manifestation of human evil and my experience at Texas A&M changed dramatically. Ultimately, my undergraduate research experience gave me the confidence to change not only my plans, but also my goals if they do not suit me. Five years later, I have changed my career path twice and I feel happy about it. I do not want to plan my whole life before I live it. 

“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.” – Anonymous 

To learn more about the URS thesis program, University Honors program and Glasscock Summer Scholars program, visit https://launch.tamu.edu

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