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Franda’s poem on racial disparities received third place in Civil Liberty Contest
Abbey Goers | December 23, 2020

The Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation has announced the winners of its inaugural Student Civil Liberty Contest.

MCSII called for University of Wisconsin-Stout students to submit original essays, poetry, photos, artwork and videos to help educate others about civil liberties.

Messages and liberties discussed by the 15 contestants covered topics including the freedoms of speech, press, association and religion, the right to privacy, due process rights and economic freedom.

The winners of the inaugural contest are:

Katrina Franda, clinical mental health counseling graduate student.
Katrina Franda, clinical mental health counseling graduate student. / Katrina Franda

Digital versions of the winning entries are posted on the MCSII website and the original work is displayed in the MCSII office in Bowman Hall.

MCSII Director Tim Shiell, professor of philosophy and free speech expert, hopes the contest stimulates students and viewers to further thought and study about civil liberties.

“Since civil liberties are the bedrock of democracy, it is crucial that everyone, not just students, study and discuss them,” he said. “They are complicated and controversial, so MCSII emphasizes a nonpartisan, civil and educational approach to the subject.”

Fighting for ‘Freedom'

Katrina Franda, UW-Stout’s 2019 Honors College poet laureate, writes poetry often. “When inspiration strikes, the words just come to me, and I write them down in the note section of my phone before they leave my head,” she said.

Franda, a graduate student in clinical mental health counseling, wrote Fighting for “Freedom” while walking to class the morning she received the contest prompt. In her artist’s statement, she wrote, “The poem’s purpose is to take the reader back to the beginning of our country’s establishment and recognize the unjust actions that resulted in the racial disparities and inequality we encounter in our nation today.” 

Growing up in Sherwood, Franda believed in the founding principle of “all men are created equal.” Now, she understands that not everyone is treated equally. She sees the privileges she has been afforded as a white woman.

She felt sad while writing about the man’s experiences in the poem, about his pain and betrayal. Franda hopes others can connect in similar emotional ways and believes connecting with those emotions will propel societal change.

“As a counselor-in-training, it’s my goal to help improve the lives of my clients and ensure they feel safe,” Franda said. “But it’s hard to do that when the very place they live doesn’t have the same goals for them. Civil liberty is supposed to be afforded to every member of our society, so let’s work together to make that a reality.”

MCSII is planning a second civil liberties contest for spring 2021.


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