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  • JoAnna Contarino

A Letter of Gratitude to NJSSC Members, Leaders and Partners

Hi everyone! Now that I have graduated university and my role in the coalition is changing I wanted to take the time to reflect on the past and future of this group.


I can never fully express how much my experience as Co-Chair of NJSSC the past two years has inspired, motivated, and challenged me.


My time spent in leadership has seen so much change; membership growth, introduction of teams, a new leadership structure, meaningful work with partners, and more.


Through consistent change and growth we have created a culture that values transitions. An organization that isn’t afraid to take risks and that is committed to critically reflect on itself. Changes have been made to accommodate different voices & perspectives, to create meaning & purpose for members, and to ultimately lead to a healthier & better functioning team. This is something I hope will never change for NJSSC; as students we have a lot of flexibility and room to grow our leadership skills. Try your best to improve the experience for everyone involved. Try your best to remain an organization that accepts critique and solutions from all members.


As Alumni Advisor this academic year I am beyond excited to see what this year's leadership team does. Every single person on E-Board and Leadership is passionate, dedicated, creative, and beyond intelligent.


To our partners: look to these students for guidance and direction for the movement at large. We will make a difference in New Jersey through building coalitions and showing up for one another. Introductions will be made shortly between our partners and new Co-chairs (Joyce Mo and Navyaa Jain). Feel free to reach out in the meantime if you want to get a head start! The support and mentorship we have received from this community has been so greatly appreciated.


To active students in NJSSC and within any movement for social change: take time to check-in with yourself consistently. This movement wants you to thrive in all aspects of your life. Set healthy boundaries, take mental health breaks, lead with honesty and integrity, live as if you’re in the world you want to create. This year we will have regular mental health focused events and activities; participate! I am here this year as a mentor and my DMs are always open for anyone that is struggling. You will get the help you deserve.


I have struggled with mental health and still do. Especially with social anxiety. It’s always been a point of confusion to me that I have been drawn to working as an advocate & organizer when I have also been the person who has been afraid of daily social interaction. But my passion for making a difference has ultimately won. Through therapy and improving my skills I am more confident, less afraid, and ready to continue working in this movement. We can overcome our struggles and I hope that anyone struggling now will reach out to someone, like me, that is willing to listen and offer guidance.


Let’s make this academic year the best NJSSC has ever had! <3


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