May 13, 2013

Ellie Witwer, ’10

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Hailing from a rural mountain town in California, my eyes were opened when I moved to Portland, Oregon to attend Lewis & Clark! Concentrating my coursework in Sociology/Anthropology and Gender Studies, I developed a great interest in reproductive health care access and the roots of gendered violence. In my final semester at LC, I had the fabulous fortune of enrolling in GEND 445 Gender In the City, a course that challenges students to explore gender issues and gain hands-on experience through an internship with a local advocacy organization. I chose to work with Portland Women’s Crisis Line (PWCL) where I served as a Crisis Line Specialist and Sexual Assault Response Intern. By advocating for survivors of violence and engaging with the thought-provoking coursework, I gained crucial skills in crisis intervention, leadership, critical thinking, and further, an invaluable network within the local nonprofit community.

When graduating as a SOAN major in May 2010, I was offered a position at the Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (PPCW) Call Center, the central point of contact for patients across six counties. In my nearly three years at PPCW, I had the opportunity to grow professionally as Assistant Manager/Interim Manager of the Call Center. Utilizing my experience in sexual violence intervention and de-escalation, I developed funding and sexual assault trainings, worked with staff to ensure stigma-free and patient-centered communication, and collaborated with health center managers to promote a high quality of service-delivery on a daily basis. I continue to volunteer for my GEND 445 practicum site, serving as the Event Chair of PWCL’s last three annual fundraisers.  I am thrilled to embark on my next journey! In Fall 2013, I will attend Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health as a Rosenfield Scholar in Sexual and Reproductive Health. I look forward to building upon the invaluable leadership and analytical skills I developed at Lewis & Clark, exploring innovative ways to promote sexual & reproductive services and healthy relationships in diverse communities.