BY HALEY ROBINSON '17
Content warning: This column mentions sexual assault and domestic violence.
Ali Safran ’14 is anything but common. In June 2013, Safran started Surviving in Numbers, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. The movement, in part, began when Safran started a Tumblr page, posting an anonymous display of colorful posters that told the personal accounts of her friends and peers. Within a few months, Safran had received over 400 submissions to the site. During her senior year, she managed the organization from her dorm room in South Mandelle Hall. While she’s since extended her professional scope beyond her nonprofit, Safran continues to fight for the accurate representation of victims of rape and sexual assault. Safran discussed the creation of her nonprofit with MHN.
MHN: Where are you from? What brought you to MHC?
Safran: I’m from Newton, MA. I ended up at MHC after deciding to transfer from my first college — I wanted more of a community, more of a challenge and to be a little further from home, which I absolutely found at MHC.
MHN: What was your major/minor at MHC? Were you involved in any organizations on or off campus? If so, which ones?
Safran: I majored in Politics and minored in Psychology. I was part of the Peer Health Educators organization for a semester. While at MHC, I also developed my own nonprofit organization, called Surviving in Numbers.
MHN: Would you mind telling me a little bit more about Surviving in Numbers? Was there something that prompted you to start the organization?
Safran: Sure! I started Surviving in Numbers based on my own experiences with the criminal justice system, as well as from my background as a crisis counselor, in which I heard from many survivors and saw a need for a new way to share experiences of sexual violence aimed at social change and awareness.
MHN: Did your work at Surviving in Numbers lead you to your current job? What were some of the most valuable experiences you gained from starting your own organization?
Safran: My work on Surviving in Numbers, as a crisis counselor and with students and survivors from across the country [has] definitely helped to shape my career interests and deepen my interest in going into law. The most valuable thing I’ve gained from starting my organization has been getting to work with and help survivors who have not felt heard before — it was my goal when I conceived Surviving in Numbers as a small project, and has been amazing to get to do [so] on a larger scale than I’d imagined.
MHN: So, what is your current job title? What kind of responsibility does your position entail?
Safran: I’m the training and education projects coordinator at the Victim Rights Law Center. I work mainly on education law, supporting staff attorneys and developing new trainings.
MHN: How did your academic and co-curricular experiences at MHC inform your career path?
Safran: My time and studies at MHC showed me how much I value strong and safe communities, making sure everyone is heard, and making sure everyone has access to resources and education. While I knew prior to coming to MHC that I wanted to go into law, MHC helped to solidify my values and helped me to think more critically about how to create what I want to see in the world.
MHN: What advice do you have for someone interested in law, specifically victim rights?
Safran: Get as much experience as you can! I spent time working in an area of law I was unsure I would be interested in, and it helped to confirm what kind of law I definitely want to pursue. MHC certainly taught me that if you are passionate about something, you should go for it.
To learn more about Ali’s project, Surviving in Numbers, visit www.survivinginnumbers. org.
Beyond the Gates: What to Expect in the Real World will be a regular feature in Mount Holyoke News’ Campus Life section. This column will profile successful alumni in a variety of fields and offer advice to students applying for internships and jobs after their graduation from Mount Holyoke College.