Advocacy Day has not been celebrated since before the pandemic, which made this event extra special.
Earning the MSSIP grant
It wasn’t an easy feat getting everyone to the event.
Bollinger, Dudley and Wendy Jackson, fellow clinical instructor for the School of Social Work, worked hard to apply for the MCHHS Student Success Innovation Projects (MSSIP) grant to receive well-earned funding.
Funding was used to reimburse traveling expenses and provide a free meal for students.
A truly immersive experience
Bollinger and Dudley hoped students would learn much more in a hands-on environment.
The day began bright and early. The pair, along with a few students, attended the education committee meeting of the House of Representatives at 8 a.m.
Students then had the opportunity to go on tours and speak to elected legislators.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) hosted lunch. Several elected officials were brought in who also studied social work.
“It was helpful for students to connect with people who studied the exact same thing,” Dudley said.
Among the officials was Crystal Quade, #BearGrad from Missouri State’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program and representative for Greene County in the Missouri House of Representatives.
The day wrapped up as students and faculty listened to the Senate and the House of Representatives sessions.
“Apparently, students didn’t realize how much their voices matter,” Bollinger said. “Going to Advocacy Day showed students that giving their feedback to legislators does matter.”
Jolie Keeney, a junior in the BSW program, is a testament to this powerful event.
“Not only did I learn how to set up a meeting with a representative, but I also had the joy of exploring the Capitol with my fellow social work peers,” Keeney said.
“Anyone can watch committee hearings on television, but experiencing it in real-time is so much better! I know that I can make a difference. This experience renewed my desire to become a social worker in the realm of policy reform.”
An impressive turnout
Of the 38 students, there were 32 undergraduate students and six graduate students.
“We had no idea how many students would show up because the event hadn’t happened in several years,” Dudley said. “It was thrilling to see how many students decided to come.”
Bollinger and Dudley will be back next year to accompany students to Advocacy Day.
“We might recruit a few extra faculty members to help and hopefully we’ll be able to get the MSSIP grant again too,” Bollinger said. “Regardless, the opportunity will be there for students.”