By Ariauna Motley, SAPAC Front Desk Staff and MA Volunteer
This summer I had the privilege of interviewing Ryan Wade, a SAPAC alum and current doctoral student at the University of Michigan. Ryan joined SAPAC in the fall of 2011 as part of an internship for the MSW program at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. Although Ryan Wade did not attend the University of Michigan as an undergrad, he found SAPAC to be a space for him to pursue his passion. After having a fantastic undergraduate experience at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill with his Bachelor’s degree in psychology in hand, Ryan came to Ann Arbor for graduate school. Ryan had interests in addressing sexual health, inequitable gender norms, and mental health concerns among college students, so he felt that SAPAC was a great place for his first year as in intern.
While working as an intern, SAPAC had a huge impact on Ryan as he began to learn about the core competencies of social work practice. Ryan commented that “[SAPAC] provided a space for me to pursue my passion for social justice and address many of the sexual health concerns that I care about most. . . Ensuring survivor autonomy, combating the norms of rape culture, and emphasizing the importance of getting men involved as activists and allies were all of central importance to me during my internship.” After interning at SAPAC, Ryan began to pursue his passion even further by interning at CAPS here at the University of Michigan for his second year in the MSW program where he worked with survivors in a more long term setting. Ryan recalls that SAPAC was very instrumental to him as a person. His experience at SAPAC has opened up a new perspective for examining oppression, inequality, and gender socialization, while also fostering his feminist values and his ability to work with clients who have experienced violence and sexual trauma.
Now after graduating with his MSW degree this year, Ryan has been busy keeping himself occupied by pursing his passion through research, volunteering, and obtaining his doctoral degree. He is very focused on his role as a doctoral student in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. However, Ryan also makes time to volunteer as a HIV Test Counselor at the HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC) in Ypsilanti and getting involved in research as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Sexualities and Health Disparities. Although Ryan only spent a year at SAPAC, he remembers his experience as “one of the most valuable personal and professional experiences he has ever had, and he would encourage anyone to become involved!”.
His take home message for Future and Current SAPACers: Take advantage of the many different opportunities that SAPAC has to offer, whether it’s peer education, men’s activism, or any of the other wonderful programs and events sponsored by SAPAC—there’s something for everyone!
Interested in resources pertaining to sexual health and LGBTQ issues? Ryan is happy to help and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also check out his staff profile as part of the Research Team at The Center for Sexuality & Health Disparities (SexLab) directed by Dr. Jose Bauermeister, faculty at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE).