Three undergrad students from Temple University were selected to participate in the second annual Young People For summit from January 13 through January 16 in Washington, D.C where they focused on progressive issues important to students today.
At the summit, Fellows Lauren Bedell-Stiles, Kimberly Teplitzsky and Christine Katz learned and talked about issues such as civil rights, voting rights and affirmative action, among others topics. During the training they collaborated with other Fellows from around the country and created budgets, presented proposals and other activities that they will soon be enacting in future projects.
Fellows also received career training advice and a mentor to help them develop a career path. Students had skill training to teach them how to fundraise, connect with the media and build coalitions with others.
The students now have to create their own campaigns dealing with the issue of their choice. They also receive as much financial help needed from the program for their campaigns.
Iara Peng, director of YP4 started the program to help young progressive leaders become better campaigners. Each year, students that are active on their campus and in the community are selected from around the country. Most students are nominated by professors, administrators or student organizations. After nominations students have to apply – submitting a resume, essays and then interview.
Once selected, students are sent on an all expense paid four-day conference. Young People For has students on 61 campuses, six in which are in Pennsylvania.
Freshman Lauren Bedell-Stiles is part of the Student Labor Action Project and Temple’s representative for United Students Against Sweatshops. In the coming semester he will also be involved with Project HOME, which is a homeless shelter and relief agency. Bedell-Stile hopes to become a better activist.
“I only wish to walk away from this YP4 conference a better and more aware student activist. Young People For was recommended to me by a friend. I’ll probably have to focus on one particular campaign when I am at the conference, so I am there to bolster my knowledge of the Campus Sweat-Free Apparel campaign at Temple. I hope to gather ideas and strategies as well as become a more confident and effective student activist,” Bedell-Stiles said before attending the conference.
Christine Katz, who runs Students for Environmental Action, also looked forward to what the program has to offer.
“I want two things from this program. I want to learn leadership skills and strategies to use in SEA and I want to be inspired to utilize the things I have learned. I also want to make connections with others and brainstorm ideas for projects,” Katz said.
Rachel Burrows, the program associate for YP4, works with the Temple chapter and hopes that the program will not only help these students currently but guide them in the future also.
“They are already a part of the movement but we want to broaden their relationship. We want to give them the right tools and get progressive jobs after graduation. We want to make a difference not just now but five to ten years from now. We want to continue to support them. We want them to learn from each other, teach each other and be successful,” Burrows said.
The conference gave students a lot of useful tactics and allowed them to create relationships with the other students sharing a similar vision.
“In a way I was very satisfied and more informed. I built more relationships with other people and not just from the conference. I learned from others and it was a great experience,” Bedell-Stiles said.
Katz had a similar experience.
“When I came to the conference, I thought it was difficult and out of my league but they let me talk to other students and they showed me what would hurt me and what would help me and that made me a lot more comfortable. It showed me how to be a better leader and it gave me better strategies to use on campus. It wasn’t perfect but it was helpful,” Katz said.
Trish Fleurimond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.