“A little something on the Conference…” Ashley Gaunt

The CFLE National Sex Ed Conference is where my dreams, my career, and my life began two years ago. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree when my professor (Allyson Sandak) suggested that I volunteer at this conference. It was all pretty new to me, and I was just starting to figure out that I would be able to potentially have a career in Sex Ed. 

Ashley Gaunt

Community Health Educator
Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater NJ

This was something that my parents never told me growing up, and I was really feeling like it would be a nice fit, since my background was in gender and LGBT studies. I met with some folks from PPGNNJ in the fall of 2010 where I got a brief overview of what would be expected of me. It sounded more like I would be attending this conference and that the little tasks I were responsible for were going to allow me to enjoy it to the fullest, just as every other participant had. 

Flash forward to the dates [11/28/12]- and I got to moderate a workshop put on by Allison Bellavance (PP Mid- Penn and Bucks County), about LGBT Inclusivity. I was in career heaven! Who knew that what I was studying in college could evolve into a lifelong career? She, and the workshop she put on was an inspiration to me, and as the conference came to a close and I set forth in my journey to intern and later on work for PPCGNNJ, I realize more and more that this is exactly where I am meant to be. 

This year’s conference was especially important to me, as I got to spend some time with some of who I like to call “Sex Ed Celebrities.” I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Bill Taverner, Dr. Sue Milstein, Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski just to name a few. Not only are they known nationwide (since everywhere I go people ask me if I know them), but I am lucky enough to know that if there is anything I need in this field, they would be happy to be there for me and help me in any way. I often times find myself speechless after realizing the truth in that. 

Speaking of mentors, I got the chance to spend time with mine: Presenter, Jennifer Mainville (PP of Southern Finger Lakes) who put on a fabulous presentation with colleague Christine McClear in a Block Session about “Starting and Maintaining your LGBTQ Youth Group,” followed by a presentation from Allison Bellavance and Amber Brown. This has been my passion for the past two years, and someday, with the help and encouragement of some wonderful sexual health educators/trainers, and some really important information, skills, and knowledge that I gained right here at the CFLE Conference, and will continue to build on from the relationships I have made from there, I hope to bring this idea to PPCGNNJ. 

Though I feel I could speak forever about what I have learned at the conference and how wonderful I feel it is for the development of my career in sexual health, I want to say one last thing: I realize even more how lucky I am to be a part of PPCGNNJ, and know personally and professionally many of the most respected authors, editors, educators and trainers in this field. I have the coolest job in the world, some of the most amazing, intelligent, and respected colleagues, and the chance to fulfill opportunities (like the CFLE Conference) that for many, never come around. 

I think it is safe to say I cannot wait until next year!