Mackenzie Harrison ’22: Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience — New Perspectives Connected to My Work on Campus

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I’ve been involved with Haven, Colgate’s sexual violence resource center, since my first year and have largely shaped my academic path around this work, including focusing my women’s studies senior project on responses to sexual violence on campus.

While I have learned a lot at Colgate about trauma, healing, and justice, I knew that only learning about these issues on campus was leaving me with some blind spots. I used my AMS grant to gain new perspectives by attending a weeklong training, Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience, at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

This training allowed me to learn from peers very different from those I have at Colgate — most of the other participants were adults well into their careers, from Virginia or surrounding states, and for the most part held strong religious beliefs. The curriculum of the week also offered new perspectives on trauma awareness. In the context of Colgate, I’ve mostly thought about trauma on the individual and interpersonal level, whereas the training focused more on large-scale trauma that affects a whole population at once, such as natural disaster or the pandemic. One of my biggest shifts in thinking as a result of the training is that now — rather than viewing being trauma-informed as important because you never know who has experienced trauma — I view it as important because, in one way or another, we have all experienced trauma.

I was able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned at Colgate to the training, and I think I offered a unique perspective to the group. I have also been able to bring back to Colgate some new perspectives, applying concepts from the training to my work at Haven and to my senior thesis. Especially as I am planning to continue doing similar work after Colgate, I am grateful that I had this opportunity to expand my understanding beyond our specific context.