October Advocate Spotlight: Mackenzie Bender
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community.
My name is Mackenzie Bender, and I am a Senior at La Salle University (in Philadelphia) studying Communication and Political Science. I moved back to Biglerville, Pennsylvania (near Gettysburg) in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been doing my classwork and internship from home since everyone transitioned into this remote-focused world. I originally got connected with the Cancer Support Community through LinkedIn after I saw a posting for an internship and thought the mission of the organization was amazing. I want to work for a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. after I graduate doing governmental affairs, so becoming a Policy Intern for the Cancer Policy Institute (CPI) directly aligns with my career goals and aspirations.
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.)
I did have experience with advocacy in one of my other internships for a different nonprofit organization that focuses on eradicating hunger in developing nations. I lobbied congressional leaders in attempts to get their support for specific hunger-related legislation. Besides this, I sent letters, made videos, called, and emailed these leaders. Along with this, I got other community members to join me in these advocacy efforts. I personally think CSC’s advocacy efforts are phenomenal, and I am so fortunate to be a part of this team.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
There are so many different issues that I am passionate about. Closing the gap in health disparities between races and ethnic minorities as well as access to health insurance/care are two specific issues that I am passionate about. I am so glad that I get to explore these issues even further in my role as a policy intern for the CPI.
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
My piece of advice is, do not be silent. If there are certain matters that you feel strongly about, channel your voice through actions. Advocacy, in any form, has the potential to change someone’s life for the better. There are so many different things you can do to get involved with advocacy work, so take that first step today!
Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
I have a few fun facts to share! I was born in South Dakota, but my mom and I moved across the country when I was five years old. I consider myself to be an “old soul,” and I prefer music from decades way before my time. Grease is, and always will be, my favorite movie. Meeting John Travolta is at the top of my bucket-list.
Over quarantine I got a Shih Tzu puppy, and her name is Honey. She has definitely been keeping me busy over these last few months! When I have free time, I like to read and watch documentaries.
If you are interested in learning more about policy, advocacy, and ways to get involved, sign up to be a part of the Grassroots Network!