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Christina King: UGBC VP, Student Activist, & Self-Care Junkie

Christina “Tt” King is a woman of many passions.

Ask her the question, “what do you do here at BC?” and you’ve signed up for about three minutes of listening to her run through her list of clubs and activities, making sure not to leave any of them out.

From her work in the Women’s Center—where she helps run the Bystander Intervention program, and helped start a civic engagement initiative in the wake of the Women’s Marches—to her recent election to the role of Vice President of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), King’s resume is stacked, and she’s only a junior. She played an integral role in organizing the 350-person Solidarity March this past September, responding to a homophobic slur that had recently been left on a parking lot sign on campus. Add in the fact that she’s on the rigorous 5-year Master’s in Social Work track, and it’s hard to believe that she has time in her day to use the bathroom.

Hearing all of King’s involvements, you can’t help but wonder where all this passion comes from, and what motivates her to do all that she does.

Although she seems to be the face of progressive causes here at Boston College, King is quick to note that she doesn’t come from a liberal background. Raised in Orange County, California—“yes, where the housewives are from,” she says with a playful eye roll—her hometown is white, conservative, and wealthy. The community, like her household, is strongly Catholic, although she was never confirmed into the faith because of the conflicts she saw between the religion and her lesbian identity.

Despite the dissonance between her personal values and those of the Church, King identifies as a very religious person. “Me and God are super tight,” she laughs, pushing a lock of her short-cropped hair behind her ear. This relationship with her Christian faith and its emphasis on human dignity and human rights is a large part of why she cares so much about activism.

“I think it all boils down to my value system, which comes a lot from my faith and from my education and my friends,” she says, tilting her face up to the April sunshine as she leans back to rest on her hands. “I identify very strongly as a pacifist. It’s not something I’ve talked about too much except for with my closest friends, but it’s why I want to be a social worker and work with the issue of violence.”

Her faith tradition has also motivated her to participate in the Appalachia Volunteers and Arrupe Immersion programs on BC’s campus, both of which took her to locations outside of her comfort zone—one to a community in the Appalachia region of the United States, the other to Chiapas, Mexico—and helped her learn about marginalized populations.

“We had the chance to meet the people who are often called ‘the poor,’ or ‘the other,’” she says, the silver bar earring through her cartilage glinting in the sun. “It’s been important for me to learn from the margins—these people can speak for themselves; it’s just about learning how to pass the mike.”

Those who interact with her everyday see this spark in her, this desire to give a voice to those who have been silenced. “Tt is an unparalleled advocate for marginalized communities,” says Katie Dalton, Director of the Boston College Women’s Center. “She channels her gifts and talents toward sexual violence prevention through the Bystander Intervention Program as one of the lead trainers, and uses her role [in the office] to address different issues through a lens of civic engagement.”

While more of a self-described organizer than a politician, King’s decision to run for UGBC office alongside her friend (and freshman year roommate) Akosua Achampong was made when she saw something lacking in the platforms of the candidates that were running at the time. “I didn’t decide to do it until I learned that there was not currently a platform for, by, and with students that are marginalized,” she said in a recent interview with the student-run online magazine The Gavel. Now, the pair is the first all-female team to lead UGBC, and Achampong is the first black female president.

The upcoming months are daunting for King in terms of UGBC obligations, as she and Achampong are actively working to build the team that will help run the school come September. On top of all her other obligations, you worry that King could become overwhelmed by this added responsibility, especially considering her diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“The thing is, sometimes it works in my favor,” she says with a grin, taking a sip of her water bottle. (It’s plastered in stickers—Stand Up BC, I Am That Girl, and Appalachia Volunteers are just a few of the organizations represented.) “I’m really type A—part of it’s my personality, and part of it’s pathology. OCD definitely makes my life harder, but it also helps me do the things that I do.”

That said, having so much to do all the time certainly takes its toll on a person. This is where the role of self-care comes into play, a concept that King wholeheartedly advocates.

“My self-care is really important to me—if I don’t prioritize it, my anxiety becomes an overwhelming monster really quickly,” she says, shifting to sit Indian-style in her army green denim cutoffs. “I schedule myself very intentionally, because there is this pressure to ‘go go go’ and do everything all the time, but you really just can’t.”

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“I’m a bit of a Leslie Knope,” she says in reference to one of her favorite TV shows, Parks & Recreation, while gesturing to a page of her meticulously decorated, color-coded day planner.

In her quiet moments, King takes the time to relax just as any college student might—coloring, drawing, reading, watching Netflix, sleeping—but to her, it’s more of a health choice than anything.

“I like to draw colorful diagrams of how I’m feeling, which helps me process my own emotions and take on difficult tasks much better,” she says. “Other than that, I read anything and everything, and I’m currently on a binge of rewatching the Twilight series,” she laughs sheepishly.

While most of her activities here on campus have her in a leadership position, one important aspect of King’s life at BC is one in which she’s only a general member—and that’s Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC). “Dancing is one of the few things in my day that I do just for myself,” she breathes, with a blissful grin. “I’m never stressed when I’m at dance—I don’t get involved in the board, I just show up, dance, and leave.” (This might explain her footwear choice of a pair of sporty Asics—although they seem incongruous with the rest of her outfit, they’re sure to get her to and from practice on time.)

King thanks her lucky stars for her strong support systems here on campus, including the staff of the Women’s Center and her small, tight-knit friend group. “The Women’s Center is the biggest community I lean on, hands down. I don’t just lean on that community, I lie on that community,” she laughs.

This close group of friends feels similarly lucky to have her in their midst: “Since I met Tt almost a year ago, I’ve been able to witness how kind she is. She is admirable not only because she is accomplished, but also because she remains grounded through it all. She grounds me and reminds me to appreciate small things in life,” says Amirah Orozco, one of King’s best friends.

A junior here at BC, King looks forward to starting her work as a volunteer trauma clinician next year, noting how challenging but rewarding that experience is sure to be, and the increased importance of her self-care practices moving forward. “Secondary or vicarious trauma [on the part of volunteers] is very common,” she says. “You’re helping other people hold their experiences—and your body feels that. Self-care is going to have to be a lifelong practice for me.”

As for her UGBC, her goals are fairly simple: “If we left the administration and had accomplished nothing except making people believe they could make a difference, I’d be fine with that. I’d actually be very pleased,” she says. “Vive la resistance.”

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