Students gain hands-on experience in Columbus
On March 30, junior social work majors will be attending a conference in Columbus, Ohio to discuss concerns in social work in America. The trip will be led by Jane Hoyt-Oliver, professor of social work and chair in the department of psychology. Going to Advocacy Day is part of the social welfare policy analysis course, which is a junior level class that all social work majors must take.
Hoyt-Oliver said, “Every year the National Association of Social Workers invites people to come to Columbus to meet with their legislators to talk about specific issues that are important to social workers.”
Students will receive training on how to handle select topics and how these topics will affect them, and they will get the chance to meet with legislators for their own area- not just for Stark County.
“I think it’s an opportunity for them to be involved in the community and advocate for things that matter to them,” said Hoyt-Oliver.
If a student has an idea or concern, Advocacy Day is the perfect opportunity to discuss it with their local legislator. This provides an enlightened look into their prospective careers as social workers and gives them a very hands-on approach that may be hard to provide in a classroom. It is also a great way to bring community concerns to the attention of someone who has legislative power to help the problem.
Additionally, the main topic of the conference changes every year.
Abby Bergey, junior social work major, said, “This year it’s a lot about the new health reform.”
However, a wide variety of topics may be discussed. Students may learn about and discuss concerns surrounding reparative therapy, licensure changes at the state level and police interactions in minority communities. After the main conference, they break for lunch and are given the chance to meet with the legislators for a period of time.
There will be over 600 social workers meeting in Columbus. With such a large number, the conference will have to be held in the State Theater rather than the State House. This is a great accomplishment in numbers compared to previous years. With more people attending, more will be learning. There will also be many new and different perspectives for the students to hear on each topic.
Everyone is encouraged to attend this conference, and it is not just for students. It is a way for people of the same profession to come together and give ideas for bettering their communities.
Amber Murphy is a staff writer for The Aviso.