Hear from Stephanie Colorado, a junior at Duke University majoring in Public Policy and Psychology who began volunteering as a CEF Advocate in September of 2013. Stephanie has been an amazing student leader in CEF, and we are delighted to share her reflections on her experience here…
By: Stephanie Colorado, Duke University Class of 2016
When I began volunteering with CEF, I was immediately captivated by the organization’s focus on forming meaningful relationships to empower individuals to take control of their own financial and life goals. Being a CEF advocate developed me personally and professionally, and has been a priceless experience.
As an advocate for CEF, I form memorable friendships with my members as we partner together in forming goals and finding ways to reach financial independence. One of my best memories was working with my member, Linda. Every Monday night, I would head over with other advocates to the women’s transitional home in Durham and worked with Linda in finding employment and creating a budgeting plan. Her sense of humor and motherly personality was something I looked forward to every week. As I taught her how to write a resume, she taught me how to cook! Forming friendships with individuals outside of my college campus has been a refreshing experience, as it allows me to look beyond momentary troubles, such as exams and essay due dates, and put value on more important life issues, such as health and economic security.
In addition to giving me the opportunity to form relationships and contribute creatively, CEF gives me a perspective on real policy affecting real people. As a Public Policy major, I get a watered-down academic understanding of social policy, but while working with CEF, I witness policies and their consequences in action. I see how food stamp cuts, health care opportunities, and the availability of Housing Choice Vouchers influence my members’ ability to transition out of poverty. Working with CEF fortified my interest in social justice and it forces me to think critically of the effects of public policy in a community. Thanks to my experiences being an advocate, I hope to find a career in the non-profit sector working with people experiencing a disadvantage. I love working with people and would like to be of service through public interest law.