Amanda Kinney grew up in the small town of Shoreview, Minnesota. Her active participation in her community, as well as her devotion to a wide array of interests, have shaped her influential, compassionate character. From her skilled spaghetti squash cooking to her traveling band performances, Amanda is a woman of many passions and talents. She loves to travel and has visited Haiti, Ireland, Portugal, Sierra Leone, France, and Spain. One of her truest passions, however, was not discovered until she moved to California two and a half years ago.
Amanda did not begin advocating in the public spotlight until she discovered a Dressember link online during her Freshman year in college. Amanda saw Dressember as an opportunity to take her advocacy to the next level; she immediately signed up with only a day before the campaign's start. After teaming up with some of her friends, Amanda exceeded over $1000 in donations, which was roughly double her initial goal upon starting.
Amanda, a current Dressember editorial intern, did not always understand the prevalence of human trafficking in our current society. It was not until the middle of high school, when she attended the Urbana Conference, that she began to understand the complexity that is human trafficking. At this conference, Amanda learned about the prevalence of this growing criminal industry. Her exposure to the fact that people are still in bondage today sparked a growing interest inside of her that would later flourish into advocacy.
As Amanda’s heart began to grow for the cause, she increasingly conducted her own research on the issue. She wanted to play whatever part she could in enlightening others’ of the horrible plight faced by victims of the industry. She reiterates, “Human trafficking doesn’t just affect the people in it. It affects the people outside of it. We should take interest in fellow man and his well-being. They are people with dignity and worth and we have to treat them that way.”
Simply raising money for the cause was not enough for this newly inspired advocate. She sought to do more than just wear a dress each day of the month. Amanda saw the progress that raising awareness had made and sought to spread her growing devotion and passion with others. The same year she started participating in the Dressember campaign, in 2013, she decided to host a showing of the documentary, Nefarious, at her local community center. Her effort to extend her campaign via a movie illuminated the issue of human trafficking to her friends, family, and peers. In doing so, Amanda continued finding ways to keep her advocacy alive even after December.
Her introduction to Dressember would ultimately lead her to become a leader in the fight against human trafficking in her community. However, her studies at Masters University in Santa Clarita, California gave her the confidence to wield one of her greatest strengths--her writing--in the fight against modern-day slavery. As she took a class on journal and autobiographical writing, Amanda learned that she could use her writing skills to clearly explain the issue of human trafficking to a public that grossly lacks an understanding of it. She remarks, “What better way to advocate than to use my words to inspire people and paint them a picture of what trafficking looks like and why it’s not acceptable.”
"What better way to advocate than to use my words to inspire people and paint them a picture of what trafficking looks like and why it’s not acceptable.”
After using one of the pieces she wrote in the class for her Dressember editorial intern application, Amanda realized the power she now possessed; she could write to others about topics that are hard to communicate and grapple with. In fact, she hopes to make a career out of biblical counseling (her major) so that she can continue to use her writing as a tool for change. She wants to write books, especially for kids. She reveals that, “Kids are introduced to a lot of hard topics very early on. They need to learn how to deal with these issues in a positive way. This includes trafficking. What is the best way to tell my future kids about this?”
Accordingly, Amanda’s experience being on the Dressember team has shown her that she can use her writing to illuminate a dark issue to others in a positive way. She wants to equip the world with an education that will help eliminate the root cause of slavery--ignorance and the failure to acknowledge its existence in our society. She recounts, “I have a bigger arsenal of tools to use...From this [editorial intern position], I’ve gained a lot more resources on how to live a life that does not contribute to human trafficking.”
"I have a bigger arsenal of tools to use...From this [editorial intern position], I’ve gained a lot more resources on how to live a life that does not contribute to human trafficking."
Amanda wants to share the resources she has gained with a world that is blind to the dangers of human trafficking. Her position as an editorial intern allows her to inspire others as she writes on the Dressember blog. She is starting to mirror the qualities of one of her biggest role models, Emma Watson. Amanda believes that Emma is “so passionate and it travels into everything she does.” Well, Amanda, your story of advocacy is truly inspirational. Your passion has clearly traveled into everything you currently do and plan to do with your future endeavors.
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About the Author
Sarah Beech is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin who is studying psychology and government. She is most passionate about fighting against the various human rights abuses that occur around us. In her free time she likes to watch Netflix, hang out with her friends, and try new restaurants. Her favorite quote is, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" (from A Cinderella Story).