You never know when an experience will change the trajectory of your life.
In 2014, I attended the RESULTS International Conference in Washington, DC, for the first time. It was incredible – I met people from all over the country and the world working together to end poverty.
When I went to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress on global health issues, I met another RESULTS volunteer from my area who happened to be the tuberculosis controller for Los Angeles County. We stayed in touch, and when a new position opened up, he invited me to work with him. TB became my passion and career, and it’s now brought me to New York City where I work on the disease for the local health department. None of this would have happened without RESULTS.
I attended that first International Conference as a REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellow, and this week I had an opportunity to return to Capitol Hill with a new group of Fellows. It was exciting to see so many young people not only fired up about what they believe in, but also starting to understand their own power as constituents and advocates.
When I was a REAL Change Fellow, one of the first things we learned is that Congress works for us. It’s true. It can be so nerve-wracking to walk into a meeting with your member of Congress or their staff, but it’s a magical moment when you realize, it’s their job to listen to me; my story matters.
And if you keep following up, the staff even starts to remember you. It’s not just about policy, but building relationships with the people who are shaping it. It becomes personal for everyone involved.
So despite all the challenges of this current political moment, I’m asking you to please not give up. It’s so important to stand up for what you believe in and to raise your voice, especially now. If you understand your own passions and values, if you tell your story with purpose and conviction, there is nothing you can’t do.
If all that sounds great but you want to take action right now, then I urge you to sign up for this summer’s International Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn a ton about policy, meet amazing people, and develop crucial advocacy skills.