Student Story

Emma Mecham '21 Fights to Protect Reproductive Rights

What made you choose to pursue your degree?

I’m pursuing a career in reproductive healthcare policy, so political science and public health felt like the two most relevant fields. As a transfer student, I didn’t have time to double major, but I’ve loved taking as many public health classes as possible and working as a research assistant in the public health department.

Tell us about your position as a legislative and political intern.

Emma Mecham meeting Elizabeth Warren at the presidential town hall
Emma meeting Elizabeth Warren at the presidential town hall.

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is an organization that works to ensure equitable access to reproductive healthcare for everyone in Massachusetts. During my eight-month internship, I worked on the electoral endorsement process by communicating with campaigns and interviewing candidates running for state office. I researched candidates, tracked races, and met with the organization’s PAC board to report on each campaign’s viability and stance on reproductive freedom.

During the presidential primary, I also attended a town hall with eight Democratic candidates! I earned course credit through the political science department for the spring semester, and during the summer, I received funding from the Passionate Leaders Project.

Tell us about working for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM).

I spent my sophomore year interning in the education department at PPLM. I got to learn all about sexual health education curriculum development and teacher training. Sex ed is an essential part of reproductive freedom, and I believe wholeheartedly in ensuring that everyone has access to the information they need to make safe choices. Interning with Planned Parenthood was such a great way to learn about making sex ed relevant for everyone; in fact, one of my tasks was to help revise the curriculum so that all the language was gender-inclusive.

What do you find most rewarding about this work?

Reproductive rights are so intertwined with other human rights, and the autonomy to make one’s own choices can be truly life-changing. However, because sexual and reproductive health are so stigmatized, people often lack access to the knowledge and resources they need to make those decisions. Sex education and access to reproductive healthcare are such game-changers — even if you help just one person, you’ve made a world of difference.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I’m aiming to work on reproductive rights at the global health level. I’m interested in working on international policy research for a year or two and then pursuing a master's degree in global health, hopefully somewhere abroad.

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

Emma with her "SNL Impersonator" during her pretend presidential campaign.
Emma with her "SNL Impersonator" during her pretend presidential campaign.

I ran a fake presidential campaign for a few weeks during my junior year. It was super silly, but I got quite a few people to put stickers on their water bottles or update their social media bios to “Mecham 2020.”

I don’t anticipate actually running for office, but I appreciate how committed everyone was to my joke campaign.

Why is voting important to you?

There is so much at stake right now. Reproductive rights are just some of the rights under enormous threat in the United States, and while electing a new president won’t fix everything, it’s a significant step. We can’t forget about down-ballot races, either: state governments determine so much, and electing progressive leaders to every level of office is one of the best ways to work towards putting education and healthcare in the hands of those who need it the most.

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