Outside of studying and coursework, University of Advancing Technology (UAT) student Andrea Brown* engages in equally important work: advocating for adoptee citizenship rights.
Andrea was adopted from South Korea a few years after she was born. Choosing to decline naturalization as a teenager without knowing what was in store, Andrea began to face bureaucratic and legal challenges in 2008 when switching jobs. These challenges inspired her to begin her advocacy work on behalf of adoptees in the US. Read more about her story here.
Currently, Andrea is working on completing her studies at UAT. In May 2016, she completed coursework for Human Computer Interaction (HCI). “At the time I started with HCI, UAT is one of 7 accredited universities across the entire United States which offered an undergraduate program for HCI,” she notes. “The majority of HCI and Human Factors programs are reserved for graduate level programs.” In December of 2016, Andrea expects to complete coursework for her secondary field, Web Design. Regarding her decision to choose UAT for her studies, she says: “UAT was the best option considering the size of the school and student body, ability to build solid and trusted relationships with faculty and industry career professionals. UAT strives for cooperative and discovery learning, competitiveness without inflated esteem."
Post-graduation, Andrea has plenty of options and big dreams. “Ideally, my post-UAT career goals are to grow and contribute in ways that make a positive difference on both a small and large scale,” she says. “This could be returning to the non-profit sector as a profession, or it could be exploring instructional systems design with education and academia, or continuing with technology and business workforce. The beauty of the HCI field is it opens up opportunities that use technology beyond the established technology industries.” Her C.V. is filled with diverse experiences, including an internship she enjoyed at Make-a-Wish America. She has been recruited by a former Rainbow Studios employee to begin working remotely as a level designer on his game, and will take on a lead role as Art Director as the team grows.
Andrea began to get involved with advocating for adoptee citizenship rights around 2008. One of her early individual efforts was a petition to the White House in 2015 which averaged 5 people signing a day, and achieved a total of 600 signatures. Later, in April 2015, she received an email about a Day of Action in Washington, DC, and decided to attend to meet the speakers at the press conference and hear their stories. After being a sponsored guest leader for the June 2015 Day of Action, she began to get even more involved with the fight for adoptee citizenship rights. “I decided to identify as a member of the Adoptee Rights Campaign, become instrumental as the contact person for the state of Arizona and Iowa, and in August I was asked to update and redevelop the website, generate email blasts for distribution, and author an Opinion-Editorial,” says Andrea. She was also a Young Women’s writer and chat moderator for an e-zine called Beyond Barriers, which helped her understand how media and exposure connect to advocacy and grassroots efforts.
As with any campaign or movement, Andrea has faced challenges in her advocacy efforts. “Arizona is a tough state to gain traction in general with advocacy,” she says. “It’s been a challenge being met partway in bridging cross functional and strong community relations. Universities, community colleges, churches are powerful, and having them endorse the Adoptee Citizenship Act would be monumental.” She notes that having more law schools and licensed adoption and immigration attorneys presenting their perspectives regarding the Adoptee Citizenship Act would be helpful, and hopes that more adoptee support groups, as well as other cultural groups, in Arizona will be supportive.
She notes that her time at UAT has added some positive support to her advocacy efforts and professional confidence. By taking control and effecting positive change on her campus, Andrea feels more prepared to do similar work outside of school. “Between the many group, student-led projects, presenting to UAT faculty repeatedly, and current advocacy work, I feel confident to pursue professional leadership roles in my career,” she says. She describes taking an active role in ensuring that the classes she and other students were taking would add definite value to their career goals by auditing classes and making suggestions to the instructor if she had ideas. “I feel less intimidated and overwhelmed, more self-confident, and definitely empowered to pilot my career path,” she says of her time studying and advocating at UAT. She has since accepted the Lead role for the Communications Committee bringing together multimedia, web development, video, and social media.
Andrea says that “UAT has been as supportive as possible” of her adoptee citizenship advocacy efforts. “A calculus professor offered kind words of support, perspective and suggestions at various stages, and a professor who had direct experience as an adoptive parent gave me tips on assembling balance of information when claiming citizenship and patiently served as a sounding board when I combed through the legalese in old immigration policies from Foreign Affairs Manuals.” An English professor also helped her with a synopsis to present to Members of Congress and in media interviews.
Her ability to be so involved at UAT and to benefit from that involvement is her favorite part about studying at the university. “The best thing about studying at UAT is when a student chooses to be involved, key partnerships which serve their own interests and simultaneously benefit the school transpire organically,” she says. Between UAT and those within the greater Phoenix community over $200 in donations was raised. “UAT is a participatory learning environment to put theories into practice.”
*name changed for privacy