Growing up as a preacher's kid had both blessings and hardships for Damaris Nicholson, now a Child Protective Service State Disproportionality Specialist in Austin, Texas. "I learned of the amazing sense of community, love and appreciation and about resiliency, faith and what it means to be loved by God," said Nicholson. "I was also aware of the pitfalls that came with it: the 3 a.m. door knocks and phone calls from church members."
At a young age, Nicholson was sexually abused by someone outside her family. "As victims often do, I chose to stay silent. My experience left me with many questions about who I was and left me questioning my self-worth, especially during my teenage years," Nicholson said.
In college, Nicholson knew she wanted to make an impact on the broader community, but had no clear direction until her mother urged her to apply for the Ethnic Minority Young Adult Internship with the General Board of Church and Society.
"Initially I resisted her pleas to apply," Nicholson said, "but she persuaded me to make a leap a faith, and a leap of faith it was. Both summers I served as an intern, I had amazing learning experiences filled with volunteer work and building relationships."
The experiences strengthened her faith in God as she "began to see the world through the eyes of others who were oppressed and faced struggles. I learned about community organizing and the power of change when people band together for a common good. Plus, I found my own sense of empowerment.
"My work today in child welfare and racial equity is a result of what God intended me to do," she reflects. "God placed these internships in my path to help me see that humanity in this world still exists and to really believe that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'"
Nicholson prays her children will grow up in a world where achieved equity will allow them to have the same privileges as others. "I hope to leave a legacy for my children of what it means to fight for social justice and for them to be courageous enough to do the right thing."
Cindy Solomon is a marketing consultant and content writer living in Franklin, Tennessee.