October Advocate Spotlight: Aaryn Kopp
This month’s featured cancer advocate is Aaryn Kopp. Read on to learn more about Aaryn and how she's making an impact in the cancer community.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community.
I just started my first year in the Master of Social Work program at Virginia Commonwealth University (go Rams!). I joined CSC’s Cancer Policy Institute (CPI) for my field placement assignment. Before I pivoted to social work, I was a professional actor working in theatres across the country (Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Old Globe, and Wilma Theatre, to name a few). I was also a part-time yoga instructor and a communications and operations specialist.
I felt called to social work after the events of the past few years — the fight for racial justice and the global pandemic that revealed our fractured systems. I believe we will need a lot of healing on the other side of these events and I want to do my part. I hope to learn how to leverage my skills to help those most in need. CSC’s focus on the psychosocial wellness of its community and integrating the patient experience into its research and policy advocacy is so inspiring. I’m truly humbled to be a part of this work.
"Whether caring for children or sick family members, paid leave is a critical right that all Americans deserve."
How are you involved in cancer advocacy?
Working with the CPI, I primarily support the team through research, writing social media communications, and grassroots organizing. I’m a bit of a political/news junkie, so working on the policy side is incredibly interesting to me.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
Paid leave is my top issue. In 2018 my father-in-law passed away from esophageal cancer. We don’t live near my husband’s family — they are a 4-hour drive away. My husband was fortunate to have a job that was both incredibly flexible and supportive of his need to make frequent trips and take time off. My job at the time was similarly supportive, but I cannot imagine how we would have cared for him without this support. Whether caring for children or sick family members, paid leave is a critical right that all Americans deserve.
"It can start with something as simple as educating yourself or joining a community. Small steps can lead to big things — just see where the journey takes you."
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
Start small. I think we often [feel] we don’t have time to take part, or that what we have to offer is too small or limited, but in my experience this just isn’t true. Just signing up for a webinar or listserv can be a jumping-off point for your own advocacy journey. It can start with something as simple as educating yourself or joining a community. Small steps can lead to big things — just see where the journey takes you.
Tell us something fun about yourself — any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
I’m a mom to 2 little wild and wonderful girls. I’m also a yoga teacher who has spent a lot of time learning about alternative healing methods (Ayurveda, meditation, pranayama, or breathwork). Originally from West Virginia, I’ve lived all over the United States and now call Washington, D.C., home.