Representing Radford A Student Experiences Advocacy Day
By Colleen McNickle
It’s an exciting time to be a Highlander,” said sophomore Chase Arrington as we were departing for our trip to Richmond for Advocacy Day. This is a sentiment my classmates and I echoed to Virginia state legislators during Advocacy Day.
An excuse to miss class is enticing to a college student, but Advocacy Day is more than an excuse to leave campus for two days: it is an opportunity to meet with state delegates and senators to advocate on behalf of the campus and the community we all love dearly.
We also have amazing networking opportunities with our school’s administration and fellow student leaders. This year, I was afforded the opportunity to go for my third straight year. It really is an experience offered to Radford students unlike any other.
As a three-year veteran of the program, I was able to emerge as a group leader and guide my group members on how to talk with legislators (shoutout to the Northern Virginia group, you guys did an awesome job).
I have been continually impressed with all the student testimony I hear. Not only are the students on this trip poised and professional, but they are also deeply passionate about Radford University. It is a wonderful reminder that our community here is so strong and that I definitely made the right college choice.
I originally got into Advocacy Day after I was encouraged by my peers in Student Government Association (SGA) as a freshman. Since SGA sponsors Advocacy Day, all the older (and in my mind, cooler) members of SGA asked me to apply. I was so determined to attend that I went even though I had the flu and was running a 102-degree fever.
As you can imagine, I was very sick, but I was confident Advocacy Day would be worth it. I feel as though I really discovered a passion and an interest on my first trip. When I first got to Radford, I was a media studies major. Advocacy Day opened my eyes to a career in government that I didn’t know I might want. The night I got back from Advocacy Day, I called my mom to tell her I had an interest in politics. The next day, I added political science as a double major. Ever since then, each year, I wanted to go again so I could continue to grow in my connections to my peers and network for my potential career path.
I am not the only one who has been so impressed by Advocacy Day that they kept coming back, or even made a career out of it. Two alumni I had the pleasure of knowing while they were attending Radford spoke with me about how Advocacy Day changed their life. One was alumna Denia Rauls ’18, a legislative assistant. She said Advocacy Day sparked a passion of hers and exposed her to the possibility of young people in politics. Before she got back to work, she showed us her padfolio from when she went to Advocacy Day. She said she still uses it every day.
In the near future, we will all be off in our careers, some of us close by and others across the globe. However, we will all be connected by Radford University and this amazing opportunity, and we are all better for it.