ADVOCACY DAY: Representing our Students on Capitol Hill



International ACAC Members on Capitol Hill participating in Advocacy Day (Left to Right: Anne Ostro Richardson, Brendan Graham, and Juan Camilo Tamayo)


Advocacy Day: Representing our Students on Capitol Hill


As a first-timer attending NACAC’s annual Advocacy Day meeting in Washington D.C. this past week I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, but I was eager to learn more about how to voice my support for the international students we serve.  The sessions on Sunday provided an overview of a number of important issues currently facing counselors, educators, and students.  I found the discussions on these topics to be insightful and helpful in framing my conversations with congressional staff the following day.  On Monday, we attended meetings with congressional aides on capitol hill to advocate and encourage our elected officials to support legislation that will help our students be successful. 

The day was a great learning experience!  Over the course of the morning we encountered a range of reactions to our requests from our legislators’ aides.  One aide was a supportive and attentive generalist, while another was sympathetic to our concerns, but also pragmatic and eager to identify a concrete plan of action.  The day was both humbling and encouraging --- as a first-time attendee, I realize that I don’t have all the answers on how to best support our international students through advocacy, but through discussions and advocacy meetings with other members of International ACAC I was able to join a broader conversation about further refining a framework that will help us to continue our affiliate’s advocacy and support for international students.  While I was quite nervous during the day’s first meetings, by the end of the day I felt empowered and eager to find more ways to advocate for the students we support. 

I hope to attend future Advocacy Day meetings to represent International ACAC and the students we work with.  I think there is great potential for our affiliate to further organize and advocate so that the international students we serve feel welcomed and supported in our communities.

Brendan Graham is Assistant Director of International Admissions at Northeastern University in Boston, MA

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