Simmons & Beyond: A Career in Activism

January 31, 2017

Rebecca Santos Seetahal

Rebecca Santos Seetahal '15 filled us in on working with Planned Parenthood and Mass NOW!

What was your major at Simmons?

My major was sociology, with minors in philosophy and women's and gender studies. I chose sociology after taking my first class with Professor Puri. Sociology allowed me to articulate my understanding of and experiences in the world. It gave me the tools to fight inequality by giving me a framework for understanding how societies are constructed in our modern day and in history.

What are your current job titles?

I work at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts as the Development Assistant and I volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women as the Vice President of Community Engagement.

What type of work do you do with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM)?

I work with the Development and Business Development/Community Engagement departments. I project manage our various publications and assist in putting together fundraising events. I became involved with PPLM after interning in New York at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the Office of the President. 

Working at Planned Parenthood has been a dream. I truly believe in the mission of this organization and am so proud to walk in the door every day in the face of protesters. This position at PPLM was the first job I applied to after graduation. I had 3 different interviews, a phone interview with HR and two face-to-face interviews, one with the Chief Development Officer and then with the whole Development department.

How did you get involved with the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Mass NOW)?

My work at Mass NOW involves creating and maintaining relationships between Mass NOW and like-minded organizations and the greater public. I work to create programming that addresses a multitude of issues such as racial justice, LGBTQIA rights and gender equality. I became involved with Mass NOW after meeting our current Co-President in the Sociology Department office! She was working as their administrator at the time. In 2015, she made me aware of the open position and I sprung on it. The application process was similar to most job applications in terms of submitting a cover letter and resume. Then I had an interview in front of the Board of Directors.

What's the most rewarding part of your work with Mass NOW and PPLM?

The most rewarding part of working at Planned Parenthood is knowing that I am contributing my time and energy to an organization that provides health care and education to so much of my community. With Mass NOW, I get to meet people who share my passion of social justice and who are also working to ensure that all people are treated equally in this state and throughout our country. I'm so humbled to meet fellow activists from all walks of life who continue to challenge my perspectives and understanding of this world.

What made you make the move to come to Simmons?

Out of the five colleges I applied and got into, it was the only college I could see myself at. I took part in the Multicultural Overnight & Student Travel Program (MOST) and had an awesome experience getting to know my student host and fellow accepted students — many of whom I am still friends with to this day. I loved the campus and quickly fell in love with the City of Boston.

What organizations were you involved with at Simmons?

In my underclassmen years, I was a member of Active Minds, a group dedicated to breaking stigmas surrounding mental illness. As an upperclassman, I helped to found NARAL at Simmons which is now the Simmons College Reproductive Justice Collective. I was also President of the Sexuality, Women's, and Gender Center during my senior year. Being a part of these organizations fueled my passion for social justice activism and grassroots organizing. I have the friends and colleagues I made in these groups to thank for making me a better person and a better activist.

Do you have any job hunting tips for students?

Look for internships, find part-time work in the community and/or run for a position in a student organization. Building your resume is essential to getting that job you want after college. It might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't realize the importance of building a resume before graduation.

How did Simmons prepare you for your career? 

The Simmons community prepared me for my career in activism. There are some incredibly hard-working and passionate organizers that grow out of Simmons. I remember when dozens of leaders from several different student organizations got together in a room to start hashing out what would become the 10 Demands. The energy in that room was tense, but we all understood that collective solidarity has great power. 

That meeting was also my Simmons moment. It happened in my senior year, but it encapsulated all the learning, teaching and work I had been a part of for the last four years. It was the moment that I truly felt connected to my fellow peers and student leaders, as well as to Simmons faculty and staff.