Advocate in training
UMD's Audrey Baumgartner stands with assault survivors

When Audrey Baumgartner’s phone rings, it could signal the start of a long night in the emergency department.

Baumgartner, ’19, who is majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies and political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), serves as a crisis volunteer for the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA). PAVSA provides support and advocacy to sexual assault survivors.

As a volunteer, she may sit with the person in the hospital. But mostly, she listens. “When a sexual assault happens, it takes their power away. We give them some power back by offering them choices,” she says. “It’s all about making sure they have what they need.”

A recipient of the Charles and Frances T. Symes Scholarship, Baumgartner says this and other scholarship support allowed her to take the 40 hours of training she needed to work with survivors.  “It gave me the option to do those things and not be so stressed out over money,” she says. “A lot of people I know are working two or three jobs, and they’re barely getting through school because of that.”

Baumgartner views her work with PAVSA and UMD’s Women’s Resource and Action Center, and her involvement in the school’s mock trial team, as steps toward her future career as an attorney. She hopes to serve as a prosecutor and eventually do human rights or civil rights work.

(Photo by Derek Montgomery)