2005 Young Alumni AwardAmber Vlasnik ’02
From the first week she stepped on campus and ever since, Amber Vlasnik has dedicated her time, energy, and talents to improving the lives, opportunities, and civil rights of those who are most hurt by gender bias and prejudice.
In August of her freshman year at St. Norbert College, Amber began a four-year “term” as a volunteer, Board Member, and Program Intern with the Women’s Center. She credits Judy Turba (Women’s Center Director at the time), Linda Clay, and other Coordinating Board members with mentoring her work; their encouragement led her to seek a career that focused on the struggle for gender equity, eradicating racism, and civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. Integrated with all of these concerns was a strong thirst for overall social justice, a drive that was richly nourished by her involvement at SNC with FUVIRESE, an Ecuadorian nonprofit organization that now-retired Professor Bob Boyer promoted and inspired students to support. It was Amber’s trip to Ecuador with Boyer and Dick Eagan that exposed her to their joyful attitudes about life and activism and “really impacted” her outlook on social justice. Another trip to Cuernavaca, through the College’s Peace and Justice Center, resulted in an ongoing friendship with Claire Tauscher (who then worked in Institutional Advancement) whose counsel and friendship have greatly impacted how Amber makes her decisions and lives her life. Sustained friendships with SNC students and staff from around the world continue to be very important to Amber, as is the never wavering support of her family.
This summer, Amber completed her M.A. in Liberal Arts, with concentrations in gender, higher education, and law, at Louisiana State University. Since August 2002, Amber has been the Manager of the Women’s Center at LSU. In just three years there, she has been a member of 18 different committees and programs dealing with gender issues; the status of women; Black faculty, staff, and students; and sexual assault problems, among others. As a professional, she has become particularly involved with women’s issues, including her recent election as one of nine members of the Advisory Council for the Women’s Centers Committee of the National Women’s Studies Association. In this capacity, she will help identify a national agenda for women’s centers and women’s programming on university campuses.
Amber’s concern for social justice is evident in her many activities as a speaker, presenter, and participant in nearly 20 programs involving issues as diverse as race relations, drugs and sexual assault, violence against women, and the Equal Rights Amendment, among others.
Amber hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D., and to continue to work for social justice in both her personal and professional life. Her advice to SNC students: “Challenge yourself to step outside your box at least once a day.” Here’s one SNC Alumna who has surely done just that! EVERY day!