Kirsta Hackmeier is a third-year in the College studying Global Public Health and French. Kirsta is a presenter for One Less, a sexual assault and intimate partner violence education and advocacy group on Grounds, and also helps coordinate community outreach for Animal Justice Advocates, the only animal welfare group at UVA. Previously, she served as an intern for the Humane Society of the United States. Currently, she is the acting chair of the Restoration Ball Committee.
What lead to you getting involved with your service work?
I applied to One Less as a first-year after attending a Dorm Norms presentation. I was struck by how engaging their presentation was, and I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of this amazing organization and inspire other students like myself. My love of animals and the time I spent at the Humane Society motivated me to join Animal Justice Advocates when it was started my second year. Last fall, I became chair of the Restoration Ball as a way to give back to the University community that's given me so much. What I love about the Restoration Ball is that it's both a fun way of bringing together people from all over the University, while also raising money to preserve our amazing Academical Village.
What has been the most rewarding aspect that comes with your community involvements?
The most rewarding aspect is observing the concrete changes that are happening. Whether it's one-on-one, like deepening a student's understanding of sexual violence and survivor support, or on a community level, like striving to improve the accessibility, inclusiveness, and diversity of a big event like the Restoration Ball, it is gratifying and motivational to know that real progress is taking place.
How do you expect to be involved in the community in the future? What's your #CommunityCommitment?
I love that volunteer work brings dedicated individuals and groups together; community involvement works the best when the entire community is involved. To that end, I want to keep finding ways to build a network of relationships between different organizations. The best and most successful projects I've participated in at UVA are the most collaborative ones, and I want to help encourage that kind of cooperation in the future.
How would you encourage others to get involved?
I would tell people not to be afraid to put themselves out there. Find something that you think would be enjoyable or that you care about, and don't let concerns about not having enough time or enough experience stop you. As the Green Dot slogan goes, "No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something." Find the something that you can do, and no matter what, the world will be better for it.
What has been the greatest class you have taken at UVA?
This is such a hard question; there have been so many classes I've taken that I loved! If I had to pick just one, I'd probably say Professor McMillen's class, "Epidemics, Pandemics, and History." It was a fascinating class that combined my interests in history, public health, and public policy, and I would recommend it to anyone.
What is your favourite UVA tradition?
This may not technically count as a tradition, but there's nothing better than sitting out on the Lawn on a sunny day. I always know when spring finals season comes around that if I get too stressed, I can just take a blanket out to the Lawn, read a book, pet a dog, and everything will be okay.
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?
I would like to see an end to industrialized animal agriculture; the environmental, public health, and ethical problems created by this industry are astronomical. There's no simple solution, but if we ever want to tackle climate change, epidemic chronic illness, and animal abuse, we have to address factory farming.