Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


Advocacy Day Provides Hands-On Macro Social Work Experience

For the first time in six years, students at the School of Social Work (SSW) had the opportunity to attend Advocacy Day in-person in Springfield, Illinois on April 16, 2024. Advocacy Day seeks to deepen students’ and social workers’ advocacy skills and their abilities to lobby directly to elected officials.  

At the event, attendees learned about emerging issues and legislation impacting the state related to social work and discussed the issues impacting the profession. Of the 20 students who attended, six registered as Lobby Leaders, which provided them training on how to be leaders in advocacy work while in the company of fellow Illinois social work students. 

Hear from Lori Light, advanced standing master of social work (MSW) student who organized Loyola's SSW participation in the event, about her Advocacy Day experience. 

What is the significance of Advocacy Day? 

This year’s Advocacy Day was significant for the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter  

(NASW-IL) because it was the first time it’s been in person since 2019. A-day is significant for SSW students because it provides a hands-on experience with macro work and a full presentation of the legislative process in Illinois.  

Advocacy Day is a great way to learn about interacting with policymakers and the forces and systems that impact all of us. One of the bills we asked politicians to support directly impacts our quality of life as social workers, especially those who are still in school. Senate Bill 2222 is a bill asking for Illinois to support schools with providing paid field placements for social work students. As student advocates in Springfield, we were tasked with finding politicians and asking for them to co-sponsor this bill. We were able to share our personal experience of struggling to make ends meet while completing our degrees and how financial burdens create burnout in a field that is already vulnerable. It was meaningful to be able to stress the impact that passing such a bill would have on future classes of SSW students.  

What were your highlights of the experience?  

A highlight for me was speaking with Representative Lindsey LaPointe, who serves District 19 as a state legislator. Rep. LaPointe is an NASW member whose field work as a social worker working with unhoused people led her to run for office in 2019. She was curious about what everyone in my group was hoping to do with their social work degrees and encouraged us all to stay in Illinois when we graduate. Our conversation about how she moved from micro social work to being a representative of her district was inspiring on many levels. 

One last highlight was hearing back from peers after the event about how their expectation of the event was to close the door on any interest in macro level social work and instead, they walked away feeling inspired and motivated to do more. As an organizer, this is the best kind of response one can get!