Advocate Spotlight: Avery Smith

April 13, 2020

T​ell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community.

I am a current junior at Indiana University. I am studying Nonprofit Management and Leadership with a minor in Healthcare Management and Policy. This semester I am participating in IU’s Washington Leadership Program, where every student does an internship of their choosing and takes a couple classes in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I am now working my internship with CSC from my hometown of Indianapolis. However, I am still greatly enjoying my experience and could not be more grateful to CSC for this opportunity. I got connected with CSC because I knew I wanted to work with a nonprofit that worked directly with patients and/or healthcare clients. I grew a passion for this type of work while participating in dance marathons to fundraise for cancer patients throughout high school and college. I live only a short drive away from CSC’s Central Indiana affiliate, so I had heard of CSC before and when I saw that they had semester-long internships, I jumped at the opportunity!

Did you have experience with advocacy in any capacity before joining CSC? (e.g. legislator meetings, hosting educational events, writing letters or calling, writing pieces for media outlets, posting on your personal Facebook, sharing information with your community, etc.)

Other than the occasional social media support, I really did not have much advocacy experience before joining CSC. My major is in the School of Public Affairs, so most of the Gen Ed classes revolve around policy topics and that’s when my interest really began. After my freshman year, I picked up the Healthcare Management and Policy minor, because health policy really stood out to me. When I learned that I was getting the opportunity to come out to DC, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door in the world of health policy.

Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?

I am pretty passionate about the issue of Medicaid and Medicaid expansion. The United States spends around $3.5 trillion per year on healthcare services, which is more than twice the average developed country spends. Given those numbers, there is absolutely no reason anyone in the US should struggle to get health insurance. Throughout my internship with CSC, I have learned so much about how Medicaid has helped cancer patients throughout the United States, and without it, their battle with cancer would have been much worse.

What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?

My advice would be that it is never too late to become an advocate. There are so many issues that need advocates, so if you are passionate about something, make your voice heard! There are so many ways to get involved in advocacy, whether that’s participating in town halls, writing a letter to an editor or congressman, or even posting on social media. No act of advocacy is too large or too small.

Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading a good book, binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy, and singing in my acapella group at IU! I would also like to once again thank everyone at CSC for giving me the opportunity to intern here this semester, and for making Washington, DC really feel like home.