Ciara Conway ′10
Hometown: Cordova, TN
Fun fact: Ciara met Rosa Parks at the age of 7.
You coordinate both the VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) and VDAY efforts. What are your favorite parts of doing this kind of work?
My favorite part about being involved with the VDAY movement is the Vagina Monologues. It is so empowering to watch women find their voices and have the courage to speak about the joy and pain buried in women′s experiences. My work with VOX allows me the opportunity to attend conferences and interact with other advocates. Through these conferences, I have come to find out how connected reproductive health is to other issues such as spirituality. As a religious person, I found connecting reproductive health with my faith to be very important. Identifying connections to other issues has been my favorite part about working with VOX.
What inspired you to advocate for women’s reproductive health?
As a child, I was fascinated by the Lifetime show Strong Medicine. I admired Dr. Delgado’s passion for serving the women in her clinic. I wanted to do something like this with my life. My first year of college, I enrolled in Intro to Women’s Studies taught by Professor Leslie Petty. This class forced me to think critically about gender and what it means to be female in our society. Similarly, during my sophomore year, I took Professor Carolyn Jaslow’s embryology class and that instilled a love for reproductive health. Before this class, I always thought that it was impossible for me to connect my love of biology with my love of gender and sexuality studies. During a summer internship at Planned Parenthood, I finally realized that it was also possible for me to connect what I learned in class with my service experiences.
Are there any people on campus or in the community whom you consider to be mentors? Why?
I consider chaplain Walter Tennyson and community service coordinator Tiffany Merritt to be my mentors on campus. They have always been available to cultivate any ideas I’ve had, and they’ve always been willing to offer advice and wisdom. Off-campus, I consider Elokin CaPece from Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region to be a mentor. As the director of education at Planned Parenthood, she has given me a wealth of knowledge about reproductive health, knowledge that has helped me transform ideas into realities.