On Saturday, Oct. 22, Cabrini students traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Ignation Family Teach-In. The Wolfington Center sponsors students to participate in this opportunity.
“[The students] told their story,” Charlesetta Kowou, senior criminology major, said. Students learned the impact of advocacy through workshops on Saturday and Sunday. They exercised their new teachings on Monday, Oct. 24, by lobbying congressional offices. Kowou served as a student leader on the trip.
Kowou was fascinated by each student’s transformation from quietly passionate on Saturday to fiercely advocating for climate change and immigration legislation on Monday.
The Wolfington Center Director Dr. Raymond Ward believes that advocacy makes voting more powerful. “Just voting only goes so far, but if you can get connected to groups that are leveraging that power to make change, you’ll see why democracy is valuable,” Ward said. He welcomes all students who are passionate about social justice into the center.
“There’s a lot of stuff in our government that needs to be fixed and changed,” Aaron Ellis, senior social work major, said. “That’s why I vote.”
Ellis serves as the Wolfington Center’s political and interfaith programming intern. Ellis joined the Wolfington Center during his junior year because he needed to fulfill his internship credit. He always had a passion for serving children, but the center fostered that passion into serving all communities.
A partnership with the League of Women Voters prepared him to teach others the voting process. He also attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In as a student leader.
Ellis is passionate about advocating for legislation that will end the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia. However, in his journey to increase voter registration on campus, he has noticed that women’s rights issues are compelling students to vote.
The Wolfington Center is not actively pursuing women’s rights legislation, but Ward welcomes students into the center who need guidance in finding their social justice focus.
“There’s no way that we’re touching all the stuff that needs attention,” he said. Ward highlights prison reform and gun violence as issues the Wolfington Center does not focus on, but that students are encouraged to promote.
Abigail Brown, junior biology major, found a way to advocate for social justice outside of school. As a Philadelphia youth commissioner, she has seen the negative impact of past tax cuts on the public education system. Her passions fuel her advocacy which leads her to vote on Election Day.
“I think that everyone deserves a fair chance and that is one of the strongest contributors to why I’m voting,” Brown said. Before she became a commissioner, she was a student in the Philadelphia school district, so she understands the impact of tax cuts on students and administration.
The first step to creating change is identifying a passion for social justice. The next step is to vote for candidates who reflect that passion.
“Those people that we are getting registered to vote [are] really making an impact,” Ellis said.
But voting is not the end of advocacy. For students like Brown, change comes from seeing the everyday struggle and knowing how to make a difference.
According to Ellis, “Everybody has a power. Everybody has a say.”