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Conversations with Sophie Pollack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophie Pollack.

Sophie, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
All flowers initially start from seeds, and so do all ideas. One day, I found the smallest seed in the batch. It seemed underdeveloped, but I put all of my energy into the seed because I knew that even the smallest seeds would grow into beautiful flowers one day. So, I planted that seed and watched it bloom into what is now my grassroots organization, A Path 2 Courage (https://www.apath2courage.org) or also known as AP2C. Our mission is to celebrate, inspire, and educate the broader community about the importance of sexual assault awareness and domestic violence while supporting the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).

In April 2020, I worked to plan an event (originally in person) at my local temple in Los Angeles and set out to create a multifaceted approach to help victims of sexual assault build and embrace their physical, emotional, and mental strength. I intended to create an open space for any individual ranging from those who are struggling with issues related to sexual violence or simply just wanting to educate themselves or others on the topic; the event was open to all. Initially, this started as a one-time event, but once COVID-19 hit and my event moved to Instagram Live, it had over 1,000 viewers from over fourteen states. Therefore, I created what is now A Path 2 Courage (AP2C). I developed a mission statement, designed a logo, and built a website. I invited speakers to discuss the patterns of sex trafficking rising within minority races, hosted a virtual event for domestic violence awareness month, and educated the community further on supporting survivors. Being a survivor myself, I grew up struggling to find ways to cope with tragedy. If not for the adversity, I would not have found my passion for understanding the human condition and studying forensics and criminality.

Through the darkest and brightest of times, I have managed to prevail and grow through adversity. I have risen from the most bottomless abyss using every bit of resilience and tenacity within myself, and I intend to share that strength with others through my work on A Path 2 Courage. I strive to become an advocate through psychology, sociology, public health, or political science. I have a responsibility to continue to influence and impact the lives of girls and young women. There have been so many Sheroes throughout my life who have lifted me up during the toughest of times, and I want to pay it forward for others. No matter what happens with the world around me, I know one thing will stay consistent, I know I will continue to plant seeds that will turn into gardens and one-day forests.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
When beginning my grassroots organization, there was a lot of up and downs as I was a one woman show. Putting together social media posts, online events and support other survivors during the tough times of Covid-19 was extremely rewarding but also very taxing on my mental and physical health. There was also of course, societal pushback where I was told to not discuss my story about my sexual assault publicly on the internet since it was “not lady like” or “something to be known by.” I brushed the negativity off and continued to beat to my own drum when creating the online space that is A Path 2 Courage.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Throughout my time at the University of Southern California so far, A Path 2 Courage has not only transformed from an online space to a physical one, but additionally has aided students both knowledgeable and unknowledgeable about how to protect survivors on college campus and the importance of holding each other/ourselves accountable in instances where others could be put at risk. My organization has become extremely successful among students both in and outside of Greek life as a movement started in October 2021 where students were grouped off by Greek affiliated or not to determine ones character. My organization had and has zero anti Greek life sentiment as the goal of the movement was to support survivors as a whole, not shame survivors both male and female for being a part of a broken system. A Path 2 Courage aimed to provide support, resources, and protection to survivors during the challenging time of the Sigma Nu sexual assault claims.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memory is going to Hawaii with my family every summer. That is the time I bonded most with them and realized that I do have the support I need right under my nose and don’t need to keep fighting them. I realized to stop biting the hand that was feeding me and to accept their love and support as a form of comfort and not shame. The best was when my dad and I were eating ice cream by the beach talking about how I have grown up and matured. He looked at me with pride in his eyes and I knew I would never forget that moment.

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