Veronika Hammond was an art major at Montclair State University (MSU) until a philosophy class grabbed her attention. The subject feeds her curiosity by encouraging her to consume vast amounts of information on a plethora of topics; philosophy also challenges Hammond to think in novel, creative, and empathetic ways. She is completing three minor concentrations in visual arts, psychology, and cognitive science.
After graduating in spring 2022, Hammond plans to enter the nonprofit sector as a social researcher. Philosophy has made her mission-driven and she wants to apply any skills towards bettering the world within a nonprofit context. Hammond is currently working on graduate school applications which, she says, is very scary but exciting. To prepare herself for grad-school-level work, she’s been conducting a self-directed research project focused on facial perception.
This will be Hammond’s second participation in a Writing Wrongs On Location event. She served as a print designer at the 2019 program on the LGBTQ+ community in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“With my background in art, I’ve been able to design and communicate information in a visual, accessible way. Overall, Writing Wrongs’ prosocial projects have been really fun to participate in, and I’m very happy to be back again this year as a print designer.”
Hammond recently interned with MSU’s Center on Global Human Trafficking. She led an event to teach students about the anti-trafficking cause and how the Covenant House New Jersey works to treat their trafficked clients. Through this experience, she learned how BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) are disproportionately trafficked due to risk factors associated with racial injustice.
“Things like economic and social inequality make individuals more vulnerable to exploitation, so I found in a lot of my studies that BIPOC were overrepresented in trafficking survivors,” Hammond said.
Although she hasn’t sought out any anti-racist groups specifically, the activist-type activities in which Hammond participates coincide with antiracist movements.
“I help out at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, and through my work there, I’ve learned a lot about current issues regarding anti-Black racism, and how these issues are being combated locally within my state,” Hammond said.
As a white person, Hammond tries her best to know “when to shut up and to make sure the voices of people who actually experience racism firsthand are heard,” but she isn’t afraid to call it out. Some of Hammond’s most vivid instances of confronting racism have been within her own friend groups or family members. A white former friend defended his use of the n-word and the reality of reverse racism, and she let him know how wrong he was. Since she knew him, it wasn’t especially difficult to express her sentiment, but she was angry that this person she trusted held such warped views on injustice.
Hammond’s personal wish to be at least a little bit successful stems from her worries about ending up as a failure.
And for the world? She knows that her wish for world peace is a “boring, hippie answer,” but she stands by it. “There’s too much war and anger everywhere,” she said, “and we need to calm down.”
Hammond is an avid reader, although she admits to playing a lot of solitaire and minesweeper as well. The top item on her bucket list right now is getting into a good graduate school.