PUC’s Social Work Students Spring Into Action at The NASW Lobby Days

By Ally Romanes on May 24, 2024

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The National Association of Social Workers Lobby Days is a two-day event that educates students and professionals about important legislation affecting clients and the social work profession. From April 21-22 in Sacramento, this annual event provided a tremendous opportunity for Pacific Union College’s social work students to learn more about the legislative process and speak with state legislators and their staff about important policy issues.

PUC’s Psychology and Social Work Chair Damaris Perez and Social Work Assistant Professor Tuwan Ussery White took five of their senior social work students who have taken the Social Welfare Policy and Issues class. Coming together at the state capital, they joined more than 1,000 social work students from across the state.

One issue they learned about was the legislative bills affecting the populations they work with. Perez shared that one example of the bills they support is providing menstrual products to incarcerated individuals. She continued by saying these products are not always available to people in jail or given enough, which can lead to other ailments.

PUC students met with a regional state representative, legislators and staffers, including those of the office of Rep. Mike Thompson. They advocated for their team’s support on behalf of the bill and the communities they serve. The students were fortunate to meet Superintendent Tony Thurmond—also a social worker—who is running for governor in 2026.

Lobby Days allowed PUC’s social work students in-person time with key state capitol representatives and education on civic responsibility and the macro practice social workers engage in by advocating for communities and organizations. These lessons helped students align with the core value of social justice in social work.

“It means a lot for our students to see social work in action,” said Perez. “They are inspired to see other students who are learning alongside them and feel re-energized. They know there are hundreds of other social work students fighting the good fight. It also allows us to connect with legislators and humanizes them.”