Arasha Lalani

School: Freshman at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts

Interests: I have a passion for public speaking! I love sharing my voice and what I believe in.

Words to Live By: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”

Menstruation Revelation: I think people do care about periods -- they just need to be reminded of the issue at hand.

Why periods matter to me: I started researching menstruation one year ago, when I had selected it as my topic for my Original Oratory in Speech & Debate, the team for which I captained my senior year. In Oratory, the competitor chooses a topic and hopes to convince or persuade the audience for or against something. Once I had learned about the menstrual taboo, I knew I couldn’t speak of anything else. The topic had spoke out to me. Its importance was in desperate need of being heard, and I felt that I could be the voice for it. Among my research for a solution under my cause and effect for women who could not maintain proper menstrual hygiene, I came across the organization PERIOD. (at the time, Camions of Care). I explored the entirety of the website and watched several videos from founder Nadya Okamoto. She was an inspiration. The way she spoke about the taboo had heightened my excitement to speak about periods that much more. At such a young age, she created a nonprofit that stood for such a worthy cause. She became an icon and represented what I hoped to become.

After a year-long season of competing with my Original Oratory, I have accomplished so much more than what I could have dreamt with two national speech championships. Aside from the success of it all, I was able to spread my message. I created stickers with some period product icons I found online to distribute after my speech. It served as a solution for sparking conversation. I have passed out nearly 300 stickers to competitors, judges, and coaches. My favorite part of speaking about such a courageous topic is seeing the look on people’s faces when they realize that I am actually talking about periods! While my judges have told me that I am brave to be speaking about this topic, I feel even prouder to know that there is not one ounce of shame in me. I am a big advocate for women’s rights overall, but I am excited to continue to delve into this topic specifically. This movement has been something that I have grown so passionate about, and that is why I am honored to be able to say that it is just the beginning.

Menstruating since: 2013 -- I was the last of all of my friends to get my period. I was always kind of worried that there was something wrong with me, but it turns out that I was just not as educated about menstruation as I am now.