• Iris Olson

Hear ye! Hear ye!

I must apologize to the city of Boston for all of the yelling, jumping, and overall ruckus I have created over the past two months. I’ve been in a celebratory mood and have taken the city by storm!

For those who have not heard, I, Iris Ryn Olson, have received my Master of Public Health with a focus on Health Communication and Promotion as well as Sex, Sexuality, and Gender!

I did it! I’m free! I can read for fun again and actually dedicate time to meal prep and all of that other stuff that I’ve been putting off!!!

It has been a two and a half year journey filled with tears, frustration, and stress. Dealing with grad school, a full time job, being a board member for a nonprofit, volunteering, being in multiple relationships, and all other shenanigans I have been up to during that time has been a lot. Luckily, it is all over and done with so that I can move forward as an individual and continue to do sexual and gender based advocacy and education.

I made the decision to approach sexual health education from a position of lots of privilege. I came with no debt from undergrad and had expendable income to take the GRE and pay for applications. I had the free time to do all of this in the middle of my final year in undergrad. This is something that I and many others have chosen to do, but it is not the only way to maneuver throughout the sexual health field.

We live in a society where going to college feels like it is necessary, yet it leaves a heavy financial burden for those who attend. I sit here writing this with almost $40,000 in loans that I have to figure out how to pay off just so that people can take me seriously. I could have gone down a different avenue of working in the advocacy world for several years, working with organizations that are leaders in the sexual health world, or building my own organization due to gaps in my community. These are all legitimate ways that people navigate working in the sexual health and reproductive world.

Honestly, I could be farther along than I am in my chosen field if I took a different path. I’ve seen the organizer of Pleasure Pie take the city of Boston by storm in educating the adult community. I know advocates who tell their stories in front of representatives and change the narrative of education. I’ve seen my friends and coworkers from the Yes on 3 campaign move on to jobs in other parts of the country and are currently leading teams in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. These individuals do not all have degrees, or have postponed their education until later in their lives.

It’s not the only decision, but it often feels like it. I’m excited about where I am, but if you are interested in working in sexual and gender health, this is not the only choice in moving forward.