Kate Quinton: Policy

 

Hello Everyone!  I wanted to share some recent experiences I have had the privilege of being part of regarding one of my favorite topics - policy!

During the summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Oklahoma Policy Institute's annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). The social work students who participated are pictured above (Molly Bryant, Lauren Turner, Kate Quinton, Sarah Parks, and Joy Miller-Davis). As an ACP student and policy nerd, this was a dream.  A room full of current policy makers, learning all about how policy is shaped in Oklahoma!  Who needs reality TV?  At any rate, I absolutely loved the opportunity to learn all about policy and further develop crucial skills.  It was a great opportunity to learn from fellow students, as well.

This semester I am completing my ACP practicum at the YWCA Tulsa (and completely loving it) and was given the opportunity to represent the YWCA at the Tulsa Chamber's OneVoice Summit.  You know all those conspiracy theorists who insist that there is some backroom somewhere full of old men making policy decisions and determining the course of the state and country?  Well they are right.  At least sort of right.  The OneVoice Summit is an opportunity for the leaders in Tulsa to come together in one room to "lobby" for the policy topics that are of particular importance to them.  The result is a list of 10 state and 10 federal policies that the Chamber will advocate for in the next legislative session.  Sounds like heaven right??  Well for me it absolutely was!  I won't lie, I was mostly terrified sitting at this round table with people who had 20 years of experience and who were clear leaders in the community.  After all who am I?  A graduate student?  However, I realized in that moment that none of those people knew that I didn't know anything (or that I thought I didn't know anything).  So I faked it.  Yup.  Just jumped right in and started lobbying for the topics that the YWCA and I value.  And you know what, it worked.  They listened and the topics I was lobbying for moved forward.  It was such an empowering opportunity.  I learned that while the room may be made up of old white men, what it needed was a different voice, a voice that understood the imbalance of power and injustice plaguing our communities.  So, in that moment, I chose to speak up.

I tell you all this, not for a pat on my back, but to tell all of you that you have a voice; one that is being nurtured and strengthened through your classes, practicum experiences, fellow students, professors and clients.  So many times our clients and the populations we represent do not have a seat at the table.  Instead, we are challenged with being that voice for those without one.  We will all be provided opportunities during our careers to speak up.  We must take hold of those opportunities and speak the truth of our clients, let their voice be heard through us.

Kate Quinton
60 Hour Program, Full-Time and MPA Dual Degree Student
Read Kate's introductory post here

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