Clark contingent advocates on Capitol Hill for immigration reform, study abroad opportunities

From left: Amy Daly Gardner, Emily Newton ’13, Volha Hrytskevich ’13, Rep. James McGovern, Bridget Healy ’13, Connie Whitehead Hanks and Patty Doherty

Three Clark University undergraduates, Bridget Healy ’13, Emily Newton ’13, and Volha Hrytskevich ’13 traveled to Washington, D.C., on March 12-13 to participate in the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) Advocacy Day. The three students were accompanied by Patty Doherty, associate director in the Office of Intercultural Affairs; Connie Whitehead Hanks, assistant director of Study Abroad Programs; and Amy Daly Gardner, director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs.  The students spent one day learning how to advocate for immigration reform and increased opportunities for study abroad (through the Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act), and the second day meeting with Congressmen and women, Senators and their staff.

Healy, who has studied in both London and Madrid, said she was “shocked” to learn that only 2 percent of all United States students study abroad.

"It made me realize how fortunate I am to have parents who planned decades to support my decisions to travel.  It also made me think that such opportunities should not be derived from luck, but come from determination and merit common to students,” she said.  “The advocates from NAFSA exemplified that spirit on the Hill by engaging our representatives and their staff in discussions on Immigration Reform and the Paul Simon Study Abroad proposal.”

Advocacy Day attendees have the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of advocacy, gain insights into the workings of a congressional office, learn about current political trends as they relate to NAFSA's legislative priorities, and share information with their members of Congress about the impact of international education on their campus and local community.

This is the first year that students have been chosen to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the event.  Healy, Newton and Hrytskevich were selected last fall from a competitive pool of applicants who expressed an interest in the opportunity.  The students’ expenses were covered by the Office of the Dean of the College, the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, Clark’s Political Science Department and Clark’s Student Council.