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Students Demand Action

If You Can Make a Difference in the World, Do It—and Don’t Look Back

I got involved as a leader in Students Demand Action about four years ago. I’ve always had a passion for social activism and human rights. Volunteering with Students Demand Action is something I’ve always wanted to do.

But what really urged me to become an active member of this movement was my personal experience with gun violence. My high school teacher, Laura Wallen, and her unborn son, Reid Wallen, were killed with a gun in 2017 during a domestic violence incident. 

Pictured: Laura Wallen, a white woman with brownish-blond hair. She wears a white long-sleeve shirt, a flowy grey vest, and a long beaded necklace. She is smiling at the camera while leaning against the passenger seat of a vehicle; her iPhone sits on her lap.
Laura Wallen

Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. That means too many families and friends have had an experience with a loved one being irreparably harmed in often-preventable situations.

Domestic violence not only greatly affects the person directly experiencing it, but also the people who love them. People who care for victims or survivors of domestic abuse often carry the guilt of not being able to help their loved one or prevent the harmful situation. 

I and many others understand the deep, personal grief and the aftermath of losing someone to domestic violence. After losing Ms. Wallen, I felt incredibly isolated from my own family and friends while trying to process my difficult emotions.

Through my advocacy and work with Students Demand Action, I hope to prevent as many people as possible from losing a similar, irreplaceable figure in their lives.

I have found great strength and determination in the community around me, which continually works to support survivors and raise awareness about domestic violence. I started a chapter of Students Demand Action at Michigan State. Doing so has not only equipped me with an abundance of resources and networking tools, but has also connected me with passionate people who also want to be involved in the movement. Being a part of Students Demand Action has brought me close to so many people who have changed my life for the better—finding those people you can rely on through difficult times is key.

This year, I attended the Domestic Violence Vigil held at the Lansing Capitol to honor those who had been lost to domestic violence in the past year. At the vigil, I had the opportunity to tell Laura Wallen’s story and advocate for legislative bills in Michigan to further protect domestic violence victims like Ms. Wallen by preventing their abusers from legally possessing or purchasing a firearm.

“Being a part of Students Demand Action has brought me close to so many people who have changed my life for the better.”

—Addison Collatz, Students Demand Action member

Speaking at the vigil was a very meaningful experience for me. It further exemplified the passion people have for addressing the issue of domestic violence. It also reminded me of the continued support many in Michigan—and elsewhere—provide not only for survivors of domestic abuse, but also for their loved ones.

Ultimately, the continued encouragement and passion from my community is a big part of why I choose to fight and continue to share Laura Wallen’s story. 

Many of my peers have said they want to be involved in activism but that it’s difficult to know how to start. There are so many resources available throughout the entire Everytown network to help you make a change where you are. I hope others learn from my experience with Students Demand Action that if you are passionate about an issue, you can make a difference simply by getting involved. Using your eagerness for change to help your community is a great way to start becoming a leader in any capacity.

To put it simply: If you feel like you need to make a change in the world, do it—and don’t look back.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233), available 24/7, for confidential assistance from a trained advocate, or text START to 88788 from anywhere in the U.S.

You can also find more resources on legal assistance in English and Spanish at


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