By Jason Fontelieu
If you’ve seen students asking for a signature around campus recently, there’s a good chance it was someone from MaryPIRG.
MaryPIRG is a student-led, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works on social advocacy issues in order to promote change at the local, state and national levels. Students involved often petition and contact lawmakers to attempt to further their agenda.
Freshman government and politics major Alysa Conway is heavily involved in MaryPIRG as the visibility coordinator for the committees aimed at textbook affordability and democracy, by working with digital and visual media.
“We emphasize a lot of the time, ‘Students really can be able to enforce great change,’” Conway said, “but we’re able to take that and make that into concrete reform.”
Conway has cited her work with MaryPIRG as helping her develop skills in leadership, patience and communication.
“I didn’t know that I could be able to do as much as I’ve done,” she said.
Some of MaryPIRG’s accomplishments have included helping enact donor matching programs in Montgomery and Howard counties, helping over 3,500 students register to vote and helping to prevent a $2.6 billion cut to Pell Grant funding.
Freshman public health major Karina LaCroix found herself joining MaryPIRG after being involved in a student group advocating for Howard County to become a sanctuary county.
“Ever since Trump came into office, I have been very much into social advocacy,” LaCroix said.
LaCroix has also gained leadership skills from working with MaryPIRG, with the help of fellow members whom she finds uplifting.
“Even if you’re having a bad day, they’re like, ‘Alright, you got this. Come back stronger the next hour. We believe in you,’” she said.
Over the summer, LaCroix will be working for the Fund for the Public Interest, campaigning and canvassing in support of a statewide styrofoam ban.
“I never knew that I would have this great of a job this upcoming summer or be able to go up to strangers and be like, ‘Hey, sign this thing’ because I’ve always been very introverted,” she said.
Sophomore public policy major Serena Saunders explained the heart of what MaryPIRG stands for.
“I consider social change to be one of the most important things someone can dedicate their lives to,” Saunders said. “MaryPIRG gives college students a way to get engaged in activism and make real change.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of MaryPIRG’s Facebook page.
Jason Fontelieu is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.