Who is changing the world?
Field Manager Chelsea Tobin ʼ11 and activist in the Denver area, shares her story.
- What are you doing now?
I’m working for The Blue Bench in Denver, Colorado. It is the Denver-metro rape crisis center and serves the nine surrounding counties from downtown Denver. It is the only fully comprehensive prevention and care center for those counties and is a licensed nonprofit for the state. I am a field manager for the organization, which means I train activists on communication, programming, common responses, etc. We do door-to-door outreach in the communities the organization serves. The goal with the outreach is a combination of fundraising for the organization’s programs, connecting survivors and their families with services, and to shift a culture and society that blames victims and perpetuates the problem of rape and sexual violence in this country. It is the only organization in the U.S. that does outreach like ours, and I’ve had a great time working with them the past few years.
- Is it related to your degree?
I completed two degrees while at Graceland — English and studio art. I am a professional communicator and activist, and my English degree 100 percent aids in that. Empathy, meeting people where they’re at, compassion, being able to make connections, communicating well with various people from a wide array of backgrounds; all of these skills relate back to my English major. As far as art, I’ve had a lot of opportunities in Denver to explore and share both my love for the visual arts as well as the music scene. I’ve focused mostly on my activism the past few years but will be working more on art this coming year and hopefully will be in a few shows, creating zines and chapbooks.
"It makes life exciting that there will always, always be something new to learn about the people around us and the world in which we live. That curiosity is what gets me up every morning."
- What are a few top takeaways from your time at Graceland?
The importance of community and to always be a student. This is an age of growth and technology, of constant expansion with information and accessibility. I’m a big fan of being a lifelong learner, of always having the humility to learn something new, and to change based on new information and discovery. It makes life exciting that there will always, always be something new to learn about the people around us and the world in which we live. That curiosity and the scope of the “gray” (rather than perceiving everything as black or white) in the world is what gets me up every morning, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
- Your favorite class and why?
It’s a hard tie between Cultural Studies with Brian White, Suffering and Meaning with Bob Mesle and The Structure of English with Jerry DeNuccio. I always tell folks it was just as hard to leave my professors when I graduated as it was to leave my friends. Cultural Studies and Suffering and Meaning shifted my ideology in significant and life-altering ways, and the Structure of English (which is about, perhaps, potentially the driest topic: grammar) was so much fun because DeNuccio was such an excellent teacher and exemplified something I admire greatly in others: the capacity for delight in the seemingly mundane or boring.
- Are you still in contact with other Graceland alumni?
Of course! [Graceland] alumni are everywhere! I have friends in Denver from Graceland, and just the other day I randomly ran into two alumni in the same week while out around the downtown area. I love my Graceland family!