Like most college students, I spent my early years trying to find my place. I changed majors, schools, and longed to find my identity. In spring of 2015, I found a place within SSDP. When I walked into my first meeting at the University of Rhode Island, I instantly felt connected with those surrounding me. I phonebanked for cannabis legalization for the first time that day! Immediately, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this organization.

SSDP helped me further my understanding of sociology and the criminal justice system. During my time at the University of Rhode Island, much of the sociology program was centered on criminal justice. I was able to learn about drug policy both in and outside of the classroom, and it was excellent to be able to incorporate my classroom knowledge with my knowledge gained beyond.

Kelly Ebbert ’15 and her dog Pudge

However, my learning did not stop there. Over the course of my experience as a student member of SSDP, I also worked on skills I had always aspired to attain. I allowed myself to be more open with others, and I worked tremendously hard on my communication skills. I am an anxious person, but my experiences in SSDP have helped me to learn how to channel that nervous energy and turn it into motivation. Where I have once feared, I now challenge myself. Where I cannot accept, I now fight for justice.

Thanks to this organization, I was graced with plentiful opportunities throughout my college career. I interned with 4Front Ventures, a cannabis and operations consulting firm founded by SSDP alumnus Kris Krane ’98; I gained valuable knowledge by participating in conferences and symposiums. I attended sessions at the Rhode Island state house, and I gained the courage to speak personally with representatives. SSDP has inspired me to continue participating in policy reform and harm reduction.

I recently was able to attend a Zendo Project training session, and I volunteer with DanceSafe. My goal in life is to help people in whatever way that I can, and SSDP has reinforced purpose within me to strive for those dreams. I have more plans on the horizon to continue my efforts to help this movement. I credit SSDP (and the friends that I’ve made along the way) in helping me to connect the dots. You all are inspirational.

This blog is part of a series of alumni-authored posts during #SSDPalumni Week, our annual Alumni Association membership drive. Become a member today by 1) Joining the Sensible Society and 2) submitting a short info form