Five students from Walla Walla University teamed up with more than 150 students from schools across Washington state to participate in Student Advocacy Day in Olympia, Washington on February 20. Together they advocated for important social causes, one of which was the Washington State Need Grant. This experience gave students the opportunity to practice analyzing policy and organizing community advocacy for relevant issues.
Megan Filippello, senior business major, was one of three individuals to testify to the Senate Education Committee about the Washington State Need Grant. The grant provides financial assistance for low-income students in higher education. Filippello and other students argued that the fund is an investment in Washington’s future, giving young adults the possibility to become future contributors to the community. Many eligible students have been unable to receive financial assistance from the grant due to lack of funding. The students participating in Advocacy Day asked the legislature to fully fund the grant, which would provide more people with the opportunity to receive higher education.
“I learned that there are in fact a lot of people in our state government that care about higher education and are committed to seeing it thrive,” says Filippello. She and a student from Whitworth University met with seven Eastern Washington legislators after the committee meeting to talk personally about the grant.
“Understanding policy and learning to be an effective advocate for clients and communities is part of social work curriculum. Students tell us that visiting the capital is a highlight of their undergraduate education and gives them a hands on experience that they remember and draw on as practicing social workers in the field,” says Emily Tillotson, assistant professor of social work.
WWU has participated in the National Association of Social Worker’s Lobby Day for five years. In the past, students have been involved in issues dealing with mental health, inmate community re-entry, dental care, foster care, and student loan repayment.
Filippello and other student advocates from across the state also wrote an article about funding the state need grant, which was published in the Seattle Times.
Posted on April 20, 2017