Exploring advocacy through community-based learning
Emily Jandrich, 20, is a sophomore at Inver Hills Community College earning her Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree with plans to transfer to Augsburg University to study English, history or journalism. During spring semester 2019, Emily took part in a community-based learning (CBL) project called Legislative Action Days as part of a public speaking course taught by Amy Zsohar, communication studies faculty.
Amy reported that her students spent the semester researching and attending events held during Legislative Action Days, also called Days on the Hill. Amy and her class worked in partnership with Shannon Williams, the college’s CBL coordinator. Amy’s students attended advocacy events on the following days:
- Arts Education Advocacy Day
- Water Action Day
- Smoke-Free Generation Day
- Mental Health Day
- LGBTQ Day
- Homeless Day
“The students were tasked with picking a day on the hill in which to participate,” Amy said. “The goal was to take the skills we are learning in class and immediately be able to apply them within their everyday lives.”
Amy added that these advocacy-based activities allowed her students to engage in political moments with elected officials, which in turn caused them to realize how important their voices are in a democracy. Feedback Amy received revealed three key takeaways:
- How ‘human’ the elected officials are
- How important it is to speak up
- How easy it is to be heard in a democracy
“One of the more important parts of public speaking, in my opinion, is learning to how have the confidence to realize what you say matters,” Amy said. “This project offered the students to see the direct impact they can have.”
Shannon Williams, CBL coordinator, tells students they don’t have to wait until they graduate to put their knowledge to work. Through community-based learning projects, students can collaborate with local high schools, conduct research with community partners and solve operations issues for organizations.
“Legislative Action Days has been an outstanding example of how CBL projects can meet course learning outcomes while also teaching students about civics and community priorities,” Shannon said. “All of the students shared that they now feel more comfortable reaching out to their elected representatives and speaking to issues they care about. Learning about effective advocacy is one of the most powerful tools we can give our students to be active participants in our democracy.”
Learn more by visiting the Center for Career Development and Community-Based Learning.
Emily’s CBL experience…
Emily participated in Arts Education Advocacy Day during her Public Speaking class project. She found the experience exceptionally positive and eye-opening.
“We talked with different senators and legislators about Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment,” Emily said. “We told our stories about why the arts are so important to us.”
The Legacy Amendment, also called the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, provides funding for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which supports arts, arts education and arts access while working to preserve the state’s history and cultural heritage.
“I have a strong background in the arts,” Emily said. “I was an aerial performer for Circus Juventas from the time I was ten to age thirteen. I did the triple and multiple trapeze. I performed in plays and musicals when I was growing up. I also love competitive ballroom dancing—and my training is aimed at going to two competitions a year.”
Emily was happy to discover that the lawmakers she met listened to her and were supportive. They pledged to protect funding for the arts. “I had never done anything like this before and it was an amazingly cool experience,” she said. “Our stories inspired the legislators and made a difference.”
What are Legislative Action Days?
Also known as “Lobby Days” or “Day on the Hill,” these organized events offer training on the topic, coaching on the talking points, and will often set up the meeting for you and your representative. The purpose of these events is to have a large presence at the capitol to make an impact on legislators and invite media coverage. Sometimes these days also include a rally in the rotunda. Sometimes there is a small cost of attendance to help the sponsoring organization cover the cost of food and renting space.
CBL experience class discussion gallery
For more event photos, visit:
More about Emily…
Emily was born in Seoul, South Korea. She was 9 months old when she was adopted and brought to Minnesota by her new parents. Last summer, Emily and her family, including her parents and her brother, Lucas, also adopted in South Korea, went on a journey that took them to Seoul, Gyeongju and Busan.
“Lucas watched Train to Busan on the flight to South Korea,” recalled Emily, who hadn’t seen her birth country for 20 years. “I didn’t watch the movie—I thought, oh, great, we’re going to have a zombie outbreak on the plane. Then we actually did take a train to Busan. I made some new friends in South Korea during the trip and we keep in touch.”
Three words that describe you as a college student:
FOCUSED. INVOLVED. CURIOUS.
Emily is a 2017 graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall, a private Catholic high school in St. Paul. A member of Asian Club at Inver Hills, she also finds time between her studies to work as a host at DeGidio’s Restaurant and Bar and as a florist assistant at Jandrich Floral, that latter business previously owned and operated by her grandfather for 45 years.
Emily’s mom, Julie, works as a Red Cross volunteer. Julie is in the midst of walking El Camino de Santiago, also called The Walk of St. James, a 180-mile Catholic pilgrimage to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Emily’s dad, Steve, is vice president of human resources at Inspire Medical Systems. Lucas, 18, is a freshman at St. John’s University. The family has one dog, Tessa, a 5-year-old Labradoodle, who still behaves like a puppy.
In her free hours, Emily enjoys competitive ballroom dancing, spending time with friends, listening to all kinds of music, including K-pop and country, and watching shows on Netflix, including Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds.
Emily Jandrich • Q & A
What advice would you give students thinking about participating in community-based learning?
Live in the moment and take in everything that’s going on around you. It’s a really interesting experience. Also, people like to help, so ask questions if you’re unsure what to say or what to do when meeting with legislators or senators.
Why is effective public speaking important for academic and career advancement?
Your speech will be more persuasive, you’re confident in what you are saying, and you make sure your voice gets heard.
What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from your CBL experience?
If you’re passionate about something, speak up about it because you could inspire someone or motivate them to make a change.
COMM 1110 • Public Speaking • 3.0 credits
This course provides an introductory study of the theory and practice of public speaking. Public presentation skills are required for individuals to be successful in our workplaces, communities and many other contexts in today’s society.
Students will learn about the different types of public speeches commonly encountered and learn how to research, organize and write their ideas into clear and understandable forms of public communication. Students will also practice the delivery skills needed to present ideas effectively.
Students will be required to speak and participate often and will also be required to present their speeches in a classroom setting with an audience of their peers and an instructor. This is an online public speaking course and students must come to campus to deliver speeches.
Visit Communication Studies to learn more.
Emily Jandrich • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Ballroom dancing
- Place you would most like to visit: New Zealand
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Visited South Korea last summer for the first time in 20 years
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: Travel the world, donate half to charity and invest the rest.
- Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Supernatural
- Best movie you’ve seen lately: The Way (It’s about walking El Camino de Santiago)
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Graduate from college
- Your national bird if you could have one: Ruby-throated hummingbird
- Dream occupation: Become a writer or a professional ballroom dancer/teacher
- Person you would most like to meet: Jensen Ackles (“Dean Winchester” on Supernatural)
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would love to master another language, most likely Korean.
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Social media standards creating body image issues.
Learn more about Communication Studies at Inver Hills by contacting:
Learn more about Community-Based Learning (CBL) at Inver Hills by contacting:
Community-Based Learning Coordinator