Written by Christian Palmero, Vice President of UMass Boston SSDP.
Did you pack up your belongings and move to another state so you could experience a different lifestyle in college? Let me tell you, I think that you made a wise decision in doing so. Leaving my hometown of Miami to pursue an undergrad degree in Boston was both the most nerve-wracking decision and the best decision I have ever made. Along with meeting new people and experiencing a culturally rich city, my path led me to discover SSDP. Since joining SSDP in 2016, many opportunities have opened up for me, such as exploring common interests amongst people with diverse backgrounds. Getting involved with the Massachusetts campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana was also an unforgettable experience. I’ve also gained a clear understanding of why and how our generation has been affected by the War on Drugs. Below are some questions about my journey that I thought might help out students who wish to participate in making history and why you should join this amazing international network of students who all share one common goal; ending the War on Drugs.
Why did I join SSDP?
At first, my intent was to make friends with like minded individuals who also believed in ending prohibition. But after attending my first SSDP conference in Portland this past March, my interest in reforming medical marijuana laws spread to related topics such as fighting racial injustice, protecting youth, and ending mass incarceration.
What has been my biggest challenge since joining a year ago?
The most challenging part was asking for help, which I still have slight issues with. SSDP members, alumni, and staff are here to help and guide you to discover what you are most passionate about. We all have a common interest so by asking for help it opens doors for you to grow as an individual, build long lasting relationships, and work together for a greater cause.
What have been the biggest benefits of joining SSDP?
I have gained an extended family along with gaining valuable skills such as organizing campaigns and educating others about the War on Drugs. I have also developed public relations skills that will be useful in my professional career. Learning how to ask for help was the inertia that allowed me to gain these valuable skills and build rich relationships.
Any recommendations to potential SSDP prospects?
Introduce yourself to your regional outreach coordinator, and don’t be afraid to use them as a resource. They will connect you with local chapters or help you start one yourself. After mingling around SSDP for awhile, you will undoubtedly find some other people with common interests.
If you, like Christian, are moving to a new city to start college and are looking to make some new friends that share similar views on drug policy, check to see if there is an SSDP chapter at your school, or start one up.