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Students Participate in ACC Advocacy Days in Washington, DC
Eight members of the Syracuse University Student Association were recently in Washington, D.C., to take part in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Student Advocacy Days. The event, last held in late October, provided an opportunity for students to network with alumni from the University and other ACC schools, learn about the federal government inside of the nation’s capital and advocate for higher education policies and issues that impact them and their peers directly.
The students met with and spoke to with policy makers from across the political spectrum, including senior staff for U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Reps. John Katko and Anthony Brindisi, among various members of Congress who represent the participants.
Cassandra Pravata, a junior political science and history major, says the trip “was an amazing opportunity to learn about federal education policy and reignited my passion for pursuing a career in public service.”
Ladin Bacakoglu, a senior political science, international relations, and German language, literature, and culture major, says, “As the only international student in our group, this extraordinary trip gave me the chance to understand the deep negotiations on policies, specifically on education, among the American politicians, policy makers and lobbyists. I’m so thankful to Syracuse for this opportunity!”
While in Washington, the group also met several Syracuse University alumni, both Democrat and Republican, who hold significant and important congressional and private sector senior staff positions. The students used these engagements to ask the staff members about their personal experiences working in Congress and how to be competitive for congressional internship and employment opportunities.
Emberlin Leja, a senior sociology and citizenship and civic engagement major, was inspired to continue her job search in the nation’s capital. “Being in D.C. with such a solid foundation of Syracuse University alumni has been the experience of a lifetime and reaffirmed my desire to be here post-graduation. Every person involved in public service has a toolbox, I imagine, and having opportunities to network in D.C. has helped provide me with the tools I need to make greater change at home and in the city of Syracuse.”
Kailee Vick, a junior international relations major, and aspiring Maxwell in D.C. participant, says, “Having the opportunity to speak to public officials at ACC Advocacy Days reaffirmed my interest in public service and gave me a head start on my internship search on the Hill.”
Overall topics of discussion ranged from the higher education reauthorization act to student financial aid, higher education opportunity programs, Department of Education proposed Title IX regulation changes, support for the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, housing and issues regarding substance abuse and the opioid addiction.
The ACC Advocacy Days fueled sophomore policy studies and citizenship and civic engagement major Sofia Rossi’s passion for this type of work. “Advocacy Days gave me the opportunity to connect with people working in the public sector that I truly see myself working alongside one day. It showed me both the personal and the professional sides of D.C. and brought me closer to my passion for education policy, as well as my future endeavors in government affairs.”
The trip was organized by the University’s Office of Government Relations and the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience.