Tatum Zeko

That’s the impact Deeds has. Deeds motivates you to say, I don’t care that I have to get up early tomorrow, I can start fixing things now. And I’m entirely grateful for my time with them.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Tatum Zeko: I'm a junior English major at the University of Texas (although I just registered for classes for my senior year, yikes!). I have a background in theater and creative writing. I went to a performing arts high school so I got all of this information about the arts growing up and it gave me an incredibly different take on life and humanity. I count myself as really lucky for my training in the arts because I got to see how deeply important the arts are to how people think and critically analyze their own growth and society's growth, and honestly, it's informed my choices in college and hopefully outside of college as well.

What are you currently working on to make change in your community?
I started interning for Deeds Not Words in January. The internship and working with these women has made me realize that activism isn’t just something that I’ll do in college, but something that I can do full time. On Monday, I sat on a panel with Wendy Davis, Rep. Victoria Neave, Rep. Donna Howard, a representative from Safe Alliance and a representative fromTAASA. The panel was after a screening of the documentary I Am Evidence. The documentary was so moving because the women that I Am Evidence focuses on don't get their justice, but still they’re survivors and they’re strong, and in the end, they do get their justice. It was so informative and even though I know about the backlogs, I still didn’t know how bad it was. Sitting on the panel was one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had. We discussed not only what we’re doing now, but also what we can do in the future. One of the questions was how to turn the dialogue from perpetrator empathy to victim/survivor empathy. We are living in a misogynistic, rape culture. I see it on campus every day. But through training on raising awareness, teaching people how to respond when a survivor discloses to them, getting people to go vote, we can have a consent culture. The impact of the panel was very evident because after, my mom, her best friend and I went to a restaurant and discussed how to make the world a better place. That’s the impact Deeds has. Deeds motivates you to say, “I don’t care that I have to get up early tomorrow, I can start fixing things now.” And I’m entirely grateful for my time with them.

What advice would you give to other young girls who are looking to make a difference, but don't know where to start?
TZ: When the going get's tough (and it will get tough) turn to your friends, but most importantly trust in yourself. If they know what you are passionate about, they will help, even if it means just listening to you rant. This is something that I still struggle with but my friends and my family are my best support group. They always know when I am bottling things up, they always know how to help me bounce ideas off them, but what I've learned the most is that they also know when to give me space to think. So many people that I work with have these amazing ideas. I love everything about them, but more often than not, the first thing that crosses my mind is, "How in the world are you going to pull that off??" And often, it's on me to help them figure it out. Every time we pull it off, though, because trusting that you have the wisdom inside of you to get those really tough tasks accomplished is the first main part of getting these things accomplished

What's are you biggest hopes/dreams for the future?
 For the US, my biggest hope is for more women (cis and trans) representation in the government. Women are awesome, and men have been test driving the US for far too long, it's about time for women to get behind the wheel.
For myself, I was trying to figure out what I want to do after college a few months ago, when my mom (she's a superstar role model) asked me to look around and see what kind of job I liked. I told her I wanted to be Gloria Steinem. Well, they don't really have a specific job for that, but I do want to continue making change. I want to be a #changemaker for the rest of my life, and that may be through being a writer or through being a politician or through being the next Gloria Steinem, however that change may take place through me, I know it will be good.

As you can imagine, we're so incredibly proud of Tatum and the work she's been doing with us here at Deeds and her work in the community. We would say that we know she's going to do "great things" -- but as you can see -- she already is.