We need advocates. Advocacy can be expressed in different ways. Three college students share their experiences advocating for causes in which they believe: Social Justice, Computer Science Education and Theatre.
Vashti Hinton, Politics & Social Justice:
Senior Political Science student Vashti Hinton believes advocacy is for everyone. As a campus and community organizer, she rallies students and community members around issues of voting rights, police violence, civil rights, and campus advocacy. She channels her passion for advocacy into serving as a voice for people who are voiceless, talking to government officials, organizing rallies and educating the student population on social and political issues affecting our communities.
“Being an advocate is not like this high and mighty thing that’s really hard to do. It’s about a change of heart. It starts with one person who can affect the people around them and ultimately change their communities.”
Her most memorable experience was speaking during the Moral Monday protest in Raleigh, led by Rev. William Barber II. She spoke about the importance of protecting black bodies and black lives and dealing with constant dismissal of queer and trans folks. Hundreds of people attended the event, which garnered national media attention.
“Being an advocate is hard, sometimes it feels like you’re working and no one sees or hears you. It was cool to hear people listening and seeing me for who I am and what I do. I cried after the speech.”
Vashti served in the House of Representatives as an intern for Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) and Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) as a part of the HBCU Bi-Partisan Congressional Internship and is the NAACP 1st Vice President for NC Youth and College.
Vashti has a piece of advice for how students can become activist:
“Change always starts with you. You have the power to change the world. We are all leaders and can make an impact.”
Angelica Willis, Computer Science Education:
Fluent in several languages, senior Computer Science student Angelica Willisknows how to code. She advocates for computer science education and opportunities in tech, especially for youth, women, and minorities.
Willis is no stranger to the world of tech. Her internship experiences at NASA, Bank of America, and Apple have strengthened her coding skills and allowed her to put them to practical use. At NASA, she used space satellites to help with reforestation efforts in Rwanda. She also created an app called Project Forage that uses computer vision to analyze the food in someone’s fridge or pantry and generate a healthy recipe based on the ingredients and connects people to healthy food options near them, which is especially practical with the amount of food deserts in Greensboro.
She shares these experiences with her campus, community and younger students by speaking on panels, visiting schools and hosting programs.
“Computer science is a tool to be creative and do amazing things.”
Willis wants to encourage more students to pursue careers in computer science and break barriers for women, especially black women, in the tech industry.
“I see the types of world solutions that can come about using computer science and technology and that makes me excited, so I want to share that with others.”
Dominique Williams, Theatre:
Advocacy comes in many forms, including taking center stage. Dominique Williams, a junior Theater student, believes in the power of performance.
Last year, in honor of Black History month, he wrote a two-person play entitled “Promised to the Movement” about the students who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He performed this play on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University and at churches and schools in Greensboro and Raleigh, NC.
As a motivational speaker, Williams shares the message of working hard and dreaming big to achieve one’s goals. Williams studied theater in England and created his own Youtube Channel, where he empowers people through motivational stories and messages. Williams feels that by sharing his gift of performing and speaking, he can help to make the world a better place.
“In order to advocate, we need to take a step beyond ourselves, be less selfish and look at the big picture.”