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7 Q+A: Molly McLay

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We’re loving the responses to the 7 Q+A from Molly McLay—Assistant Director of the University of Illinois Women’s Resources Center and Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

The Women’s Resources Center aims to support and connect students by linking them with faculty, alumnae, staff, community leaders and other women students through programs, workshops, mentorship, meals, fun activities and networking events. Student organizations may request meeting or programming space as well as apply for co-sponsorships from WRC for activities that raise awareness of gender/women’s issues on campus, and increase the visibility of women at the University of Illinois. They also offer supportive counseling if a student has been sexually assaulted or abused by someone.


Molly McLay

What are you grateful for today?
I’m grateful for music and for connection to my fellow humans. (In the past 24 hours, I saw an amazing documentary at Ebertfest about this very topic, as well as Sufjan Stevens play his most emotionally connected album at a concert, so it’s on my heart big time.)

Tell us about one of your friends and what you love about her.
Meghan is a fellow social worker and one of my best friends, as well as one of my favorite connections from graduate school. I love her because she is fiercely passionate about social justice and radically caring for others, and she maintains a cheerful attitude despite having faced many obstacles throughout her childhood and adulthood. She’s one of my heroes.

Describe one of the best days of your life.
March 13, 2015—not long ago, actually. I was selected to present at PechaKucha Night Vol. 17 and got to share why I love my job so much, through poetry and images, with a crowd of people in the beautiful Canopy Club. Many of my students, who inspire everything I do, were there, as well as people I love and one of my biggest mentors. I told someone I was going to be in “Girl on Fire” mode (a la Katniss and/or Alicia Keys), and I was.

What’s the best lesson you learned from your mother/grandmother?
I think both Mom and Gramms have taught me to always look for the silver lining. Even when things are absolutely awful, there is always a little sliver of something to be glad for or grateful for. I watched each of them search for that silver lining and grab onto it in various ways as I was growing up, and I think it’s really impacted the way I approach my work and my life.

We’re all unique. What is your special gift?
I am a connector. I am constantly bringing together people with people, ideas with ideas, people with ideas, and everything in between. Sometimes it’s informal; other times it’s very public or formal, like through my teaching or sharing my creative work. Someone told me they can see the little wheels turning in my head when they can tell I am about to make a connection. (I have one more. I am a damn good speller.)

What could women be doing to make their community a better place?
I think a major issue is that so many women are working very hard to make their community a better place, and they’re not noticed because we still live in a culture that places men at the forefront of most things. So one idea is that women should rally together and support one another, and together make their voice louder and stronger so that it can’t be pushed to the sidelines.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
During my junior year of high school, I was asked this question, and I am pretty sure I answered with “I’d be a leading Broadway musical actress.” I do not think my answer has changed, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

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