Kaley Lambert ’24 was looking forward to gaining some valuable real-world experience through an internship this summer following her sophomore year at UNH.
She got even more “real world” than she could have bargained for.
Lambert found herself in a truly unique and distinctively rewarding position when she secured an internship with the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire (RFFNH) – just weeks before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
She was in the early stages of her work when the decision came down, fueling fierce debate nationwide and shining the brightest light possible on the organization’s mission.
“We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when. And we had prepared for it the best we could, but there’s only so much you can prepare for something as big as that,” Lambert says.
The only thing bigger may have been the community response, which was both moving and inspiring to Lambert – monthly donors to RFFNH immediately increased significantly, allowing the organization to offer even more services and assistance than it ever had before.
“In a way, the public reaction to it gave us a lot of hope that honestly might have been lost if I hadn’t been working there,” Lambert says. “We heard from a couple hundred people right away who just learned about our cause and wanted to help. If I hadn’t been working there, I would have seen the news and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the end of the world, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ But being on the inside I got to see how many people care, how many people are going to fight.”
That fight has long been inside of Lambert, a triple major in communication, philosophy (ethics and social responsibility option) and Italian studies. Social justice issues, and reproductive rights in particular, have been important to her for as long as she can remember, so the RFFNH was a strong match.
Her internship was part of the inaugural College of Liberal Arts (COLA) summer fellow program through the college's Global Racial and Social Inequality Lab (GRSIL), which secured all of the fellowships for the summer and then matched students to the best fit. The paid summer fellowships are made possible in part by gift funds.
“It was checking all the boxes for me,” Lambert says of the position. “Having the chance to not only work toward a social justice issue that I really care about but also getting to meet some really amazing people, it was just a gold star of a summer opportunity.”
If I hadn't been working there, I would have seen the news and thought, 'Oh my gosh, it's the end of the world.' But being on the inside I got to see how many people care, how many people are going to fight."
And that was before the Roe news officially broke. Working with RFFNH through such a significant moment in history provided perspective she couldn’t have counted on when she signed on. Her primary role was education coordinator, focusing on creating educational content and hosting events that included a recurring book club meeting, and she also got to work with NH PANTHER (Plymouth Area Network to Help End Racism) and the New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition to create a community resource guide.
But in the aftermath of the Roe decision she also got to attend protests and rallies that took on more significant meaning – including one in Concord on July 4 and a Queen City Pride event in Manchester – and capitalized on the chance to have a voice in the fight for reproductive rights in New Hampshire and beyond at a most critical time.
“After the Roe decision I attended a protest on July 4 and the energy there was so strong and powerful,” Lambert says. “It really made me feel that I was working with and doing something that was really important to so many people, and to me that just made my summer.”
The outpouring of community support helped make RFFNH’s summer, too. Donations increased so substantially that the organization was quickly able to expand beyond its traditional offerings of direct funding for abortion care or rides and other assistance for appointments, to include gas cards, gift cards for food and shelter support. “It’s amazing knowing that even though this really big negative just happened, people in the community are doing so much that we were able to create a positive,” Lambert says.
The full scope of her experience this summer has helped further cement some of Lambert’s future goals, as well. She isn’t positive of the exact path she’ll pursue professionally – “I’m a triple major, if that tells you anything about me being indecisive,” she quips – but it will most definitely involve social justice issues and fighting for the greater good.
“That fulfillment of being able to see the applied benefit and positive outcome of working on important social issues, that’s such an unreal feeling I can’t compare to anything else,” she says. “I know I want to have that in my life in some way.”