Students are a powerful force that can’t be ignored. In a year with so much loss and hardship, students are showing the world just how much they can affect change. Students from across the University of California are using their voices to lead and join movements, steering the state and country forward on issues of racial justice, climate change, gun control, education and more.
The student perspective is going to be more needed than ever this year, as government leaders in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., face tough budget decisions from the economic fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students have the power to influence those decisions and advance policies that support students — but only if more students stand up, speak out and share their stories.
That’s where you come in. The UC Advocacy Network (UCAN), a vibrant community that works alongside the university to build public and legislative support for UC and its students, is seeking new student ambassadors for the 2020-21 school year.
This program is a great opportunity for students who want to flex their political power and influence state and federal higher education policies, share the student perspective with lawmakers, and develop resume-building experience in public affairs and advocacy.
Join us! Apply now.
The program is open to all UC undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Students must be able to devote 10 hours per month and be willing to engage in outreach efforts.
“We’re looking for students who are passionate about the value of their UC education and are excited to build a stronger, unified network of students who want to speak out in support of the university and its mission,” said Jennifer Brice, a 2018 UCLA alumna who is the advocacy and communications manager in the UC Office of the President’s State Governmental Relations office in Sacramento.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but are due no later than September 20. The program runs from mid-October 2020 through June 2021.
“Students are the heart of UC and the future of California — and lawmakers listen to them,” Brice said. “UC’s student ambassadors are a force to be reckoned with.”
Students do not need prior political experience to become an ambassador — just a genuine interest in making a difference for their fellow students and UC, Brice said.
Building on previous victories
Since 2018, UCAN ambassadors have achieved some important victories: they helped keep UC tuition flat, secured funding for financial aid and mental health services, and advanced protections for members of UC’s undocumented community.
Ambassadors promote and participate in UCAN digital campaigns, which make it easy for people to call, email, and tweet at lawmakers on critical issues. They also help with petition drives, bringing the UC community together in support of critical budget and legislative issues that affect everyone.
UCAN’s ambassadors fight to:
- Ensure that UC can offer an affordable, high-quality college education for all students.
- Stand up for UC’s most vulnerable students, including those from low-income, first-generation and immigrant backgrounds.
- Secure funding for life-changing research on coronavirus, climate change and other important issues.
Student advocates have the power to make a lasting difference for hundreds of thousands of UC students, and to improve things for those who come later. Anyone can participate.
“As a first-generation, low-income college student, I thought my voice didn’t matter. I had a lot I wanted to say to our legislators, but I didn’t know how,” said UC Riverside alum Mark Sebarrotin, who served as a UCAN ambassador in (2018-19). “Through UCAN, I learned how to be an effective advocate and I was able to speak directly to our legislators either on our campus or up in Sacramento.”
His UCAN experience inspired Sebarrotin to pursue a career in public service.
This year, more than 70 students from across UC signed on as ambassadors, helping get-out-the-vote efforts on campus and online, and securing critical funding for UC in the state budget. They have also been vocal proponents of ensuring that state and federal relief packages help students recover from the economic hardships brought on by COVID-19.
Although some advocacy efforts will now be digital, rather than in person, student ambassadors are more needed than ever. Depending on public health guidelines, student ambassadors may have opportunities to attend advocacy events on and near campus, connect with UC alumni and learn from experts across the UC system. Ambassadors may also have the chance testify at state budget hearings and meet with legislators and staff — whether in person or videoconference to — to share their UC story.