Meet Autumn Blalock
By Susan Shelly
Autumn Blalock ’20 is a writer, actor, mediator, activist and above all, an advocate for others.
“Whatever I end up doing, it will be with other committed people who are working to make a difference,” she says. “I can see myself in a position as an advocate for health equity and the things that go along with that.”
Recently named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, Blalock learned about the value of community early while growing up in Capitol Heights, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.
“I grew up in a small community where you had to look out for each other,” she explains. “There were always a lot of people in our house, and sometimes we didn’t have enough food for everyone. That’s when a neighbor would show up with a meal.”
Those examples of caring for others influenced her greatly and inspired her to do the same.
“That sense of community is really important to me,” says Blalock, 20. “I’ve seen the positive things that happen when people take care of each other. We all can do something.”
In the fall semester of her junior year, Blalock became intrigued by a health psychology class discussion regarding disparities in health care, and how people of various racial and socioeconomic groups are affected.
Supported by Bridget Hearon, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, Blalock decided to research the topic. The project, which explored demographic and personality characteristics as predictors of exercise and sleep, turned into an honors module and earned Blalock praise.
Recognizing that the results of her research could be applied to her hometown community, the project also inspired Blalock to begin a second venture delving into how people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds view and interpret public health campaigns.
According to Albright College President Jacquelyn Fetrow, Ph.D., who nominated Blalock for the Newman award, everything she does is guided by her commitment to improving her community.
“Her desire to grow the community she serves is at the heart of everything she does,” Fetrow wrote in her nomination letter.
Also in her junior year, Blalock worked as production manager of the Domino Players, Albright’s resident theatre company, and performed in “America, the Play: The Play About America,” which explored the country’s changing national identity and what it means to be an American.
“That gave me the opportunity to not only learn more about America’s history, but to give a voice to it,” she says.
The play was part of the theatre’s Season of Social Justice, an idea that Blalock pursued and supported.
A member of the President’s Advisory Council for Health and Wellness who also works in the admissions office, Blalock feels that psychology and theatre both can be used for the betterment of society.
“I believe that theatre has the ability to transform and open minds,” she says. “And, having grown up in an age of lockdowns and drills, I see that psychology and counseling will continue to be increasingly important in our society.”
Her dream, which has grown larger during her time at Albright, is to open a nonprofit center of education for the arts, which would offer classes, performances with educational value, language classes, assistance with housing and health-related issues, a bookstore and other community resources.
The center would be designed to particularly benefit young people.
“Young people need someone to advocate for them, and I will be that person,” Blalock says. “I’ve seen how poverty and oppression affect people’s futures, and that has to change.”