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The North Wind

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Mackayle Weedon
Mackayle Weedon
Social Media Editor

My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Spreading awareness with Elizabeth Smart

Child advocate and kidnapping survivor shares her story and road to recovery.
Amelia Kashian/NW
LISTEN AND LEARN — Elizabeth Smart participates in a Q&A session with Bailey Gomes of Platform Personalities shortly after finishing her speech about her kidnapping and recovery experience. Smart now has a foundation dedicated to sexual violence and assault victims and awareness.

On Monday, Oct. 2, activist and child advocate Elizabeth Smart spoke at the Northern Center Ballrooms regarding her experience as a kidnapping survivor. After experiencing many cases of sexual violence and abuse, she continues to speak out on exploitation, assault and the long road of recovery that victims undergo.

In her speech, she told the traumatic story of her kidnapping and her thought process throughout. In 2002, Smart was abducted and experienced sexual assault, starvation and abuse for nine months. She was forced by her captor to wear a veil when in public and successfully testified against him once she was safely returned to her family by the police in 2003. 

Smart went on to explain to her NMU audience how the kindness of the community saved her life and emphasized the importance of speaking out. Since she had previously been known as the “kidnapped girl,” she also told how specific labels or events should not define us as humans. Platform Personalities hosted a Q&A after the speech followed by a book signing of Smart’s novel, “My Story”.

A main aspect of Smart’s speech was her take on the importance of awareness. She explained how she and many other young girls were uneducated about sexual education and self-defense, which led to a plethora of troubles down the road. For junior Lucy Mohr, learning about such issues held importance that could not go ignored. 

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“I think Smart bringing awareness to such a taboo subject is important because it is not talked about as much as it should be. It’s important to bring [awareness] to campuses to specifically teach girls about these situations,” Mohr said. “It’s good to see that she has her nonprofit, “Smart Defense” and that she’s really putting her whole heart into everything.”

Beyond awareness, Mohr recognized another key factor that goes into dealing with life struggles, which is being resilient. From Smart’s speech, she understood how important it is to fight for oneself. 

“We all go through struggles big and small, but no matter [what] they are, we have to keep going,” Mohr said. “There’s more to life than just those struggles.”

Audience member Maizie Nelson was also moved by Smart’s presentation and had an inspiring perspective. In her case, its impact was strong and brought her back to previous instances where she was engrossed in Smart’s story. 

I had a very surreal feeling after listening to Smart. [I] was very shocked because she has been like an idol to me ever since I watched her documentary when I was like 7 years old, and still to this day I rave about her and her book and documentary to my friends and family,” Nelson said. “I loved that she mentioned that the only reason she kept fighting and doing as her kidnappers told her was because of her family, because no matter what she’d always have their love.”

Northern Michigan University students and members of our community were moved by Smart’s story. Captivating and inspiring, it shed light on important issues that college students should understand. Smart’s novel, “My Story” and nonprofit organization, “Smart Defense” offer ways to spread educational awareness that students all around can benefit from. Her visit to NMU inspired many to spread kindness, find happiness and reject harsh labels.

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About the Contributor
Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian, Features Editor
Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over time I have grown to become more and more fond of journalism. Now, I am excited to grow as a writer and build connections as a staff member of the North Wind. In my free time I enjoy running, finding new music, and exploring nature.