Advocacy is often thought of as a tool used by social innovators to attract attention to their cause. Agents of change rely on advocacy techniques to make a difference, and advocating is most often associated with a public service or a cause. However, advocacy has a real role in the daily life of all students, and indeed, all people.
To advocate, or “to plead in favor of” according to Miriam Webster Dictionary, is necessary for any person to succeed in their academic, professional or personal endeavors. To be an advocate requires many characteristics, including a thorough understanding of a cause or goal, a passion to succeed at that goal, and effective writing and verbal communication skills to benefit the promotion of the goal.
If you think about these characteristics outside of the world of social change, they resemble a set of tools necessary to succeed in everyday life. Whether applying to college, interviewing for a job or presenting a proposal to their boss, people must advocate for themselves or their ideas. Understanding, communication skills, and passion to achieve are all vital to success in every walk of life.
To train students as advocates means giving them the ability and the drive to fight for something they believe in, whether that be their own education or a change within their community. It means empowering students to take initiative and determine their own futures.
Those who advocate are those who lead. So in order to train tomorrow’s leaders, we must give them the tools to get there. Because before they lead others, they must first learn to advocate for themselves.