As a first generation college student and sophomore sociology major, Amanda Gomez came to Texas A&M University purely because it was a tier-one research institution. However, Gomez quickly came to love the Aggie community that made A&M feel like home. Gomez elaborates by saying, “Since I am a first generation college student, I never felt a strong connection to one particular school. I always knew that I wanted to make a difference in the community I lived in and after finding that community in A&M, I thought what better place to start than here?” Gomez wasted no time in working to make a difference by immersing herself in several peer-to-peer programs on campus.
One such program is the Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE) program. Comprised of extensively trained A&M students, they hope to reduce violence on campus by hosting educational programs on the topics of stalking, sexual assault and relationship violence. As President of SAVE, Gomez helps to lead the program as it seeks to empower students to take an active role in creating a violence-free environment for all students, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class or ability. These Educators present to peers and host awareness campaigns throughout the year by highlighting the importance these issues have and the lasting effects they can carry. “SAVE is an important organization because violence highlights underlying issues that have major impacts on society and we cannot afford to ignore it. People have a right to safety and wellbeing while also being respectful community members,” said Gomez.
Through SAVE, Gomez has been able to learn that communicating the importance of these issues is based on the ability to effectively interact with your audience and translate information in a way they understand. During a Memorial Student Center (MSC) open house tabling event, Gomez found even through all the sexual assault awareness campaigns, there were still misconceptions and myths surrounding relationship and sexual violence. Gomez continues by saying, “We should be continuously learning and be willing to meet people where they are by being patient and open to what they can teach us.” With her SAVE officer team, Gomez decided that they needed to regroup and find ways to better understand where communication was breaking down.
Through her dedication with SAVE, Amanda Gomez has shown that a passion for community can make the biggest difference in understanding how to better help those around us. Dmitri Westbrook, Assistant Coordinator for Consensual Language, Education, Awareness and Relationships (CLEAR), understands the importance of students like Gomez to the campus community. He said, “Amanda has proven to be a great student leader by constantly taking opportunities to not only spread awareness of sexual violence, but also educates her peers as to why it is important to end it. She displays good character without expecting to receive any rewards or gifts for the hard work she does.”
Gomez not only works hard with SAVE but also donates her time to the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC), which offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, accompaniment service to medical facilities, court appearances, and meetings with law enforcement as well as free counseling to survivors of sexual assault. Knowing that she is a student first and foremost, Gomez is currently part of an ongoing research project, which she started the spring semester of her freshman year. Hoping to publish her work in June, Gomez’ passion for education and her understanding for continuous learning has given her a greater appreciation for having leadership opportunities. Gomez continues by saying, “It is important for a variety of students to have leadership roles. It gives other students someone with whom they can connect with. This role helps us to seek out the next generation and learn how we can develop them to be even better leaders.” Gomez has accomplished a tremendous amount in the short time she has been a student at A&M and will continue to be a strong leader, other students can look to for inspiration.
Written by: Courtney Rhodes