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Social work trip prepares HPU students to be voices for the unheard

CLC Advocacy DayBROWNWOOD – April 19, 2017 – A recent trip to the Texas State Capitol provided several Howard Payne University social work and family studies majors with ongoing training in their quests to become advocates for society’s marginalized populations. The students took part in the CLC Advocacy Day hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

The Christian Life Commission presented several sessions during the conference, addressing topics such as the financial exploitation of the poor, immigration, education and the foster care system.

Those who attended the conference are students in Dan Humeniuk’s Social Welfare Programs, Policies and Issues course. The class researched predatory lending practices prior to the trip and prepared talking points for conversations with lawmakers. While at the Capitol, each student went to the office of his or her hometown representative and spoke with whomever was available.

“The purpose of such trips is for students to become familiar with advocacy and the legislative process,” said Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology. “I think most people do not realize how responsive our state representatives are to people from their districts.”

Abbey Beardsley, a junior from Fort Worth, was surprised that her representative’s chief of staff was eager to speak with her.

“He was kind, well-spoken and very attentive to what we had to say,” she said. “He answered our questions and wrote down notes to share with the representative when he was back in the office. It surprised me that he then asked us about our opinions on different issues and really cared about what we had to say.”

Beardsley said she learned how simple it is to advocate for her beliefs.

“It is intimidating to go and speak your mind to people in power, but they genuinely want to hear the thoughts of the people,” she said. “I learned that I can share my faith and Christ’s love, even in the political arena.”
Additional HPU students on the trip included Becca Blohm, senior from Midlothian; Jacob Escobar, junior from Brownwood; Elijah Garces, junior from Floresville; Karina Garcia, senior from Brownwood; Shelby Harrison, junior from Abilene; Stephanie Kerby, senior from May; Jacey Martinez, junior from San Saba; Morgan Lacy, junior from Early; Katelyn O’Conner, junior from Granbury; Sierra Spruill, junior from Ranger; Sydney Spencer, senior from Georgetown; Anna Vallejo, junior from Brownwood; and Jacqueline Vega, senior from San Antonio.

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Cutline: Several HPU students recently participated in in the CLC Advocacy Day hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission. Present in the photo are HPU faculty, staff, students and alumni as well as BGCT staff.

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