Claire Mraz – Prevention Program Specialist

My name is Claire Mraz, and I am a Prevention Program Specialist at the Young Women’s Resource Center.  I grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa with my mom, dad, and younger brother.  With the exception of a horrible year in Kindergarten, I have always loved going to school, learning, and being surrounded by teachers and others who love to learn.  In addition to having an incredible support system at home and within my extended family, I’ve been lucky enough to find support, friendship, and inspiration in mentors, teachers, professors, and friends who also thrive as learners.

I talk about myself as a learner and the importance of my friends and connections within the school system because that’s where so many of my passions and interests have sprouted from.  As a freshman at the University of Iowa, I signed up for a handful of electives that sounded interesting to me—I wanted to learn about so many different things, and stumbled into the most important class of my life.  That class led me to declare a major in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and it introduced me to the world of feminism, the study of women’s history and unique experiences, and to an entire department full of individuals passionate about feminist issues and social justice work.

Suddenly, I had a new vocabulary to describe and discuss so many of the issues I had seen and sensed around me in the world: patriarchy, institutionalized oppression, privilege, and sexism.  My time in that community is what led me to the YWRC.  I knew I wanted to work with others who were passionate about feminist issues, challenging the status quo, and empowering young women.  Here at the Center, I am surrounded by unique and incredible people that share my passions and bring passions of their own into the mix.  My work in problem solving and after school groups at the YWRC gives me the chance to start important feminist conversations with young women on a daily basis and help them to empower themselves to reach their full potential.

I already feel so at home here at the YWRC, and I know that is not true for most people starting out in their careers.  To be surrounded by such energizing peers and to spend my days doing work I am passionate about is the most rewarding experience.