Summit shows CSB juniors how to be advocates for the voiceless

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November 29, 2016

By Morgan McCormack '17

SALT attendees

(from left) Alexandria Daggett; Carley Castellanos, assistant director of CSB Campus Ministry; and Jamie McCarthy.

How do you become an advocate for social justice issues?

College of Saint Benedict juniors Alexandria Daggett and Jamie McCarthy found out when they participated in the Catholic Relief Services' (CRS) University Student Ambassador Leadership Training (SALT) Summit July 24-26 in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. CRS produced a video on the summit that features McCarthy.

Daggett, McCarthy and more than 100 college students focused on three key issues: human trafficking, climate change and Syrian refuges and migration. As part of the summit, all participants visited CRS headquarters in Baltimore, attended presentations on the three key issues and visited government officials on Capitol Hill.

These experiences allowed for Daggett and McCarthy to learn new skills and ways to help advocate for social justice issues.

 "Because we did a Capitol Hill visit, I feel that the political system is more accessible than it was, and I can use that experience to continue to participate and make my voice heard," said McCarthy, an English major from Windsor Heights, Iowa.  

"Throughout the summit I learned skills on advertising, creating meaningful events, educating students and advocating for real change in our legislative system," said Daggett, a Hispanic studies and biology major and pre-medicine student from Lakeville, Minnesota.

Daggett and McCarthy hope to start new events on campus related to social justice issues.

"I am personally very passionate about human trafficking, so I am hoping to set up some events during our sex trafficking (awareness) week in the spring," McCarthy said.

"I plan to host a refugee simulation at some point this year in order to expand upon the Syrian Refugee Solidarity Walk and Refugees and Public Health panel that were hosted last year. This simulation would help our students to understand at least some of the trials that a refugee faces on their journey whether along the way or once they arrive at their final destination," Daggett said.

Daggett and McCarthy were also given the opportunity to meet other students who advocate for social justice issues on their campuses and learn about their experiences.

"Simple instances of solidarity can so strongly affect our understanding of the suffering many people go through. This opportunity helped me gain a broader perspective and compassion for those who have nothing. I hope to incorporate more intentional instances of solidarity so that I may continue growing in my compassion for and understanding of those far less fortunate than I," Daggett said.

McCarthy expressed gratitude to CSB President Mary Dana Hinton, as well as CSB Campus Ministry and CRS, for the opportunity to attend the summit.

"I want to thank them for this amazing opportunity to meet others, share ideas and ultimately bring those ideas to our representatives to make our voices heard," McCarthy said.

Both Daggett and McCarthy are student workers for CSB Campus Ministry on the Spirituality and Social Justice team, and are current CRS Student Ambassadors. They were first approached about SALT Summit by their supervisor, Carley Castellanos, assistant director for Campus Ministry at CSB who also works with CRS.

Both students felt empowered by attending the summit, and look forward to continuing to be an advocate for the voiceless.

"I have a stronger passion for social justice after attending this summit which will follow me wherever I go. Being involved with social justice will allow me to make real change in the world because of my awareness of and interest in addressing the issues that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our global society are facing each day," Daggett said.