After volunteering for the Halo Project during her time at university, Tamara Schwarz was offered a permanent position with the charity because of her strong passion for women’s rights.
Where do you call home?
I come from Stockton-on-Tees.
Tell us about your role?
I currently work at the Halo Project as the project lead of the Halo Hub Initiative, a project offering training packages and establishing student groups to educate and raise awareness of sexual violence and hidden harms including: forced marriage, female genital mutilation and honour-based abuse. I am also studying an MA in human rights at University College London (UCL) and have a role as a student resident advisor – wellbeing support in UCL student accommodation.
How did you get to where you are today?
While studying for my BA in American studies at Northumbria University I became deeply passionate about human rights, in particular women’s rights. This passion led me to find the Halo Project, who I volunteered for during my final year of studies. My volunteer role consisted of setting up the Halo Hub society in Northumbria University of which I was voted president. As a society, we spent the year raising awareness on campus of the Halo Project and hidden harms, holding various events such as bake sales and raising awareness stalls to open conversations on our campus community about typically hidden topics.
We also delivered many social media events, posting videos and holding quizzes to engage as many students as possible. After graduating, the Halo Project offered me a position to carry on the work with the Halo Hubs and I have since been working tirelessly to develop a model which we are currently launching nationally, so we can take our knowledge and programme of empowerment to educate institutions across the country.
Alongside my work with the Halo Project, I now have the opportunity to support students during their time at university, aiding them through any barriers they may face during their time here, which will be a challenging but rewarding role.
The journey to now has pushed me to my limits on multiple occasions but I can safely say I have enjoyed every second. I am grateful to have had to opportunities I have and to continue to work to inspire and inform, while hopefully contributing to a shift in attitudes that will cascade on to every other young person.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
The charity sector is very difficult to break into and with passion as my only qualification, I doubted my chances of being able to break into this sector. Luckily for me, the Halo Project saw my passion and dedication to improving the rights of women and inspiring young people to act and do the same. They have provided me with the opportunity to gain so much knowledge about the sector and to grow into the young, driven activist I am today. As well as this, dealing with such topics at times can be draining but over the last couple of years I have learnt ways to cope and focus on the positives.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
After studying abroad in Florida for a semester during my bachelor’s the injustice and inequality in this world was something at the forefront of my mind and something I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing about. This experience allowed me to find my calling and when I got back to the UK the first thing I did was research local charities I could get involved with. I just wanted to be able to make a difference, to contribute to the fight people worldwide are involved in and start to shift attitudes no matter how small my audience is.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
Always believe in yourself and your passion. Your voice is powerful, you are powerful and the impact you can have on this world is so much greater than you can probably yet imagine. Inspire yourself and inspire those around you and never give up hope.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never lose faith in yourself, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Stay focused and never give up.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Never stop dreaming.
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