HPU students study advocacy, legislative process at Texas Capitol

A group of Howard Payne University students from the Social Welfare Programs, Policies and Issues class and the Principles of Restorative Justice class recently traveled to the Texas Capitol in Austin for Advocacy Day. The classes are taught by Rachel Derrington, assistant professor of social work and director of the social work program, and Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of sociology, respectively.

The annual event is sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission (CLC). According to the CLC website, Advocacy Day provides attendees with an opportunity to learn about public policy, its impact on community and how to get involved in advocacy. Those who attend the event have the opportunity to participate in workshops featuring a wide range of issues including religious liberty, educational equity and immigration.

“Being able to participate in Advocacy Day was incredibly beneficial, because it provided me with an environment to constructively talk about issues that I am passionate about,” said Lillie McDonald, junior practical theology major from Tuscola. “I especially liked the workshop on immigration, because we discussed the topic in a new and hopeful light.”

This year, students from HPU heard from keynote speaker Michael Gerson, syndicated columnist with the “Washington Post” and former top aide to President George W. Bush. His message emphasized that, in the midst of a divisive political climate, Christians can offer a message of hope through a commitment to the common good of society, grounded in the conviction that all people are created in the image of God.

Trishawn Townes, senior criminal justice major from Brownwood, said his experience was very informative.

“Keeping up with current events keeps us connected to our world,” he said.

Derrington’s class also participated in legislative education. These students met with Texas House Representative Mike Lang’s chief of staff, communications director and legislative director. Derrington and her class were recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives at the start of the session that day.

“I was so impressed with the interaction the students had with Mike Lang’s team,” she said. “I’m glad they were able to see firsthand just how important participation in advocacy is to so many individuals.”

According to Humeniuk, students and faculty greatly benefited from the trip.

“The HPU faculty and students returned from the experience better informed on current social issues and on how to advocate for change with Christian love and empathy,” she said. “As Michael Gerson noted, ‘The moment is difficult, not impossible. The bonds of our country are frayed, not broken, but we need healing influences and the church should be one of those influences.’”

In addition to McDonald and Townes, those in attendance were:
Jordan Barrs, junior criminal justice major from Austin;
Jordan Beasley, senior criminal justice major from San Antonio;
Destiny Bible, junior social work major from Brownwood;
Tia Campos, sophomore criminal justice major from Winters;
Clarissa Carranco, junior family studies major from Georgetown;
Jakayli Coppic, junior social work major from Zephyr;
Guadalupe Coronado, sophomore criminal justice major from Shallowater;
Kashtyn Eoff, junior social work major from Brownwood;
Nathan Haggerton, freshman criminal justice major from Burnet;
Lainee Hasty, senior psychology and social science global studies major from Runaway Bay;
Julissa Ibarra, sophomore criminal justice major from San Antonio;
Payton Jones, sophomore criminal justice major from Whitewright;
Caleb Kostreva, senior social science and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Clifton, Colorado;
David Manolof, junior social work major from Midway, Arkansas;
Marisa Miller, junior social work major from San Antonio;
Shantel Oplotnik, senior social work major from Brownwood;
Kayla Rayos, junior criminal justice major from Houston;
Shelby Smart, junior family studies major from Brady;
Levie Smith, junior criminal justice forensic science major from DeSoto; and
Diana Torres, sophomore social work major from Houston.

Accompanying the group was Dr. Millard Kimery, dean of HPU’s School of Humanities and professor of English, and Dan Humeniuk, adjunct faculty member in criminal justice.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester at Howard Payne University (www.hputx.edu/apply). HPU offers a variety of financial aid options. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at enroll@hputx.edu.

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Cutline: A group of Howard Payne University students and faculty recently traveled to the Texas Capitol for Advocacy Day. Pictured are, front row from left are Dr. Millard Kimery, Rachel Derrington, Lynn Humeniuk, Lillie McDonald, Julissa Ibarra, Destiny Bible and Jakayli Coppic; second row from left, Caleb Kostreva, Trishawn Townes, Tia Campos, Kayla Rayos, Diana Torres and Dan Humeniuk; third row from left, Noah Coronado, Jordan Beasley, Jordan Barrs, Paton Jones, Levie Smith and Nathan Haggerton.