Pictured from left: Martin Garcia (Cabrini Mission Corps), Imani Fussell, Brandon Desiderio, Jaime Viggiano
Not pictured: Corynne Barrett, Kevin Bowes, Stockly Buabeng, Jeanine Gallagher, Alexander Garoutte (Cabrini Mission Corps), Rachel Shelton, Joseph Whip
In December 2013, nine Cabrini College students met with Congressional foreign policy aides on Capitol Hill.
The students were there to lobby for maintaining funding levels for poverty-focused development assistance that helps ailing, impoverished communities around the world become self-sufficient.
Cabrini students were on Capitol Hill as part of the course “Working for Global Justice” taught by Jerry Zurek, Ph.D., chair and professor of communication.
“Through lobbying,” Zurek said, “our students develop a sense of the power that their voices have to advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.”
Cabrini students lobbied aides to Senators Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., arguing that poverty-focused development assistance only amounts to less than one half of one percent of the federal budget, yet has received disproportionate cuts over the past several years.
So for Brandon Desiderio ’14, a communication major who was among the Cabrini student-lobbyists, it came as great news when in January 2014, a federal budget was passed by Congress and signed by the President with a modest spending increase in poverty-focused development assistance.
“Seeing the budget increase in development assistance,” Desiderio said, “made me realize that as American voters, we have the privilege to improve the lives of others around the world without needing to travel far. But,” he was quick to add, “it’s up to us to use that privilege.”
Cabrini students have lobbied Congress in support of poor and vulnerable people since 2008.
“It is thrilling for them—and for me—to walk into the U.S. Capitol and speak with the very people who write our laws and determine our country’s budget,” Zurek said.
Laura Hancq ’13, who lobbied with Zurek while a Cabrini student, felt so empowered by those experiences that after graduating she landed a position with New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, and was soon promoted to Legislative Director in charge of drafting potential laws.
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