When UW-Eau Claire psychology major Summer Underwood got an email about joining the Student Wellness Advocacy Team, she didn’t know what to expect. Now, the Racine native not only works as a safe sex advocate with SWAT, but her volunteering has expanded to include the UW-Eau Claire Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center and Bedsider, a nonprofit that promotes safe sex and contraceptive use on campuses nationwide.
With SWAT, Summer finds creative ways to break through the barrier of embarrassment and facilitate meaningful discussions about sex and gender with her fellow Blugolds. Her endeavors include Condom Bingo, a game she hosts in residence halls, and walking around campus pulling the Love Wagon, a little red wagon full of free condoms for college students. By bringing an open awareness to topics that are all too often kept in the dark, she’s helping students confront their misconceptions, learn about their options and have some fun in the process.
But her work doesn’t stop there. Last semester Summer started an internship with the Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center. She uses her position to help make UW-Eau Claire a more inclusive place for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. During her time as an intern, she’s helped to coordinate and volunteer at events such as the Night OUT: Film Series, and she’s currently in the process of becoming a leader for both Bystander Intervention for Sexual Assault and Safe Space training programs.
After graduation, Summer hopes to become a clinical psychologist and research severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder. In the classroom, she’s gaining the knowledge necessary to pursue her career, but she knows her journey will also require patience, an open heart and an ability to educate people on sensitive topics — all skills she’s gained through her volunteer work. During her time as a Blugold, Summer Underwood has helped raise awareness and inclusivity on campus while serving as a counselor AND confidante … and that’s pretty powerful!
Photo caption: Summer Underwood
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