What are you studying at Birmingham Southern College?
I have not yet chosen a major, since I am hesitant on rushing into a career option without being sure of whether or not I would enjoy it. I am currently taking classes in order to figure out what career I would enjoy; however, I have discovered that I would like to focus specifically on human rights, and am studying on the different issues and concerns surrounding this topic as I go through school.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be to travel the world investing in and educating others on their rights (and hopefully be paid for it!) Foreign cultures fascinate me, and it is often true that the best way to learn from them is to go live in these areas that have such different practices. I hope that I will eventually be able to explore and learn from countries over in the Middle East and Asia, although where I would primarily like to work and experience culture is in Central/South America.
What do you hope to learn while interning with GASP?
It is my desire to see that I learn more about Birmingham on a local, more intimate level; since I have not had much interaction with the area prior to my college experience, I would like to become familiar with the city that I now call home. Performing outreach in my internship would achieve both this and introducing me to the approaches communities take to address specific concerns, such as political policy and education. I am also hoping to see how Birmingham functions on an activism level through coordinating with other human rights organizations, as well as how people respond to information about different rights and violations that are occurring within their area.
Why is our mission to reduce air pollution important to you?
The necessity of clean air for everyone boils down to three arguments: human rights, environmental protection, and technological advancement. We citizens shouldn’t have to worry about whether the air in our neighborhoods, homes, or workplaces will have detrimental effects on our bodies simply because we breathe it; it is within our right to demand that the industrial practices of companies not physically
invade our lives and cause us harm- long term or immediate. In addition to this expectation, it is also important to recognize that clean air, like clean water, is a commodity on which all living things rely. It is possible that we could damage and pollute these renewable resources for several years, should we increase our abuse of them.
Lastly, the drive for creating clean air and a clean environment is also a drive for self-sustainable technologies and technological growth overall. Decreasing our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy allows us to find ways of sourcing energy locally, with more stable machinery due to the fact that the energy from renewable sources replenishes itself and needs little to no input in order to generate it. Therefore, environmental conservation is not only necessary for the protection of our planet, but also for forcing us to become innovative and imaginative in how we redevelop our old methods in addition to creating some new ones.
What is your favorite food?
Food overall is one of my favorite things on the planet, but a dish I enjoy in particular is homemade seafood gumbo. I grew up only two hours from New Orleans, so many of the same flavors and recipes ended up where I live with delicious results- I have yet to come across a terrible cup of gumbo from my hometown!
What are your hobbies?
Most of my hobbies include creative practices, such as painting, writing, and singing. I also enjoy reading, and for sports I prefer swimming over anything else. I have a tendency to become fidgety if I spend an extended amount of time not doing anything, so I try to find personal projects that will keep me occupied for a good amount of time.
Who or what are your influences?
A large portion of my influence comes from my parents, who have worked for everything they now have without taking any shortcuts or making any excuses to reach the point in their careers that they are currently at. I also find strong influence from literary sources, with characters and authors that impose strong values, as well as several historical figures, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Joan of Arc (two of my favorites!)
What are some other fun facts about yourself?
I used to be an avid actress, and performed throughout most of my secondary education as well as assisted in two shows during my time in college. The last show I acted in was a competition theater performance of Ralph Roister Doister, where my theater group made it to state competition and I won two awards for best supporting actress. I have also had the opportunity to travel to two countries: France and Mexico!
Michael joined GASP in 2013 as communications specialist. He has lived in Birmingham since 2008, and is an active member of the Birmingham community. He’s a passionate advocate for health equity, civil rights and equality. He is currently serving as executive director. Email Michael