Immersion in the Legislative Process: A Fellow’s Perspective on the National Convening of Newman Civic Fellows
By Sonce Reese, University of Baltimore
This blog post is part of a two part series on the First Annual National convening of Newman Civic Fellows hosted by Campus Compact and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The two essays in this series are written by Newman Civic Fellows who won an essay competition among attendees of the convening. This essay is written by Sonce Reese, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Human Security program at the University of Baltimore.
This past weekend (Nov. 18-19), I had the motivating opportunity to exchange ideas, goals and experiences with a group of like-minded Newman Civic Fellows from across the United States at the 2016 Newman Civic Fellows National Convening. In this space, I found passionate people with a shared goal of making their world better and improving the lives of the people around them. The Newman Civic Fellows convening was an incredible opportunity to connect with other fellows and learn firsthand about the projects that they were either working on or had completed.
Throughout the convening, which was hosted by Campus Compact and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, Newman Civic Fellows had the opportunity to participate in a networking reception with other fellows, and to review the legislative process through the Institute’s Senate Immersion Module (SIM). The SIM offered fellows an engaging and hands-on approach to the legislative process, including showing us how a bill is created and then passed or vetoed. The purpose of the event was to introduce fellows to one another and to the legislative process, and to allow fellows the opportunity to work together on a pressing or important issue such as the Farm Bill Legislation. The Farm Bill Legislative Process was both interesting and intriguing as we experienced how Senators have to make decisions and try to do what’s best for everyone involved, which is no small feat considering the number of people a bill or a law may touch. I was fascinated by the process, and enjoyed working with my team of fellows to make the best decision for a group of farmers that we had never met. Overall, the SIM was an eye-opening experience that ignited my passion for the law and policy, and for affecting change through the legislative process.
While attending the convening, I met several Newman Civic Fellows, including one who studies at a university near mine. I offered advice to a fellow who was considering running for office, visited a city I had never been to, and found that I was refreshed by meeting people who had the same or similar goals as I did (usually I have to explain and provide many details about my work, but in this space there were a lot of “head nods” and agreements). I gained knowledge on exactly what it feels like to be a part of the legislative process, to be rejuvenated in my spirit, and to connect with and befriend people who had similar goals and aspirations. I provided advice and motivation where I could, made connections when possible, and shared kind words where needed. It was truly an honor to meet such incredible people who were performing so many wonderful deeds.
I serve in many roles both on and off campus including intern for Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape, ACPA Ambassador, and Co-President of the University of Baltimore’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. As a student at the University of Baltimore studying Global Affairs and Human Security and taking law classes, this experience, hands down, has been one of the best in terms of the introduction to the legislative process and how it feels to not only sit on the floor, but to also be immersed in the experience of creating a bill and adding amendments. My future goals include becoming the president of a community college, working with and advocating for underserved healthy, vibrant communities. All of these future endeavors will be supported by my review of the legislative process. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a Newman Civic Fellow and know that my life and the lives of others will be greatly impacted by this experience.