Andy Capen, MS '09Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability
- Why did you choose Antioch’s Advocacy program?
Before I came to Antioch, I was a case manager at a homeless shelter. I had explored the idea of graduate school for a brief period before someone told me about Antioch. When I came to Antioch to visit and meet with Steve Chase and attend one of Abi Abrash Walton’s classes in early February, 2007, honestly, it felt like coming home. I had no idea that such a program even existed, and when I found out about it, I knew it was the absolutely perfect place for me. Know what I mean? For me, even before I attended, I knew that it combined the perfect mix of practice and theory for making a difference in the world. And for the first time, I knew that I was on the way to finding my place to do just that — even though, at the time, I didn’t and couldn’t know where I’d end up afterwards. I was secure and confident that Antioch would help me get to where I know I needed to go. From the very start, I sensed a spirit about the place that I only became to love and adore more deeply as time went by. A spirit that I knew would enrich and bring out the very best in me.
- What did you like most about your time in the program?
I benefited immensely from being around a group of amazing, inspiring, beautiful individuals — not just in the Advocacy Program, but the entire Environmental Studies Department (where the Advocacy program was housed when I attended). The wealth of experience that the individual students and professors brought to the program was immense, and gave me a glimpse into the huge variety of possibilities that might await me after Antioch.
- What valuable skills do you think you learned in this program?
I learned incredibly valuable networking skills, the art of public speaking, persuasive writing. And I learned how to run a campaign, from beginning to end: planning, coordination, research, advocacy, data, follow-up, assessment. And I learned how to learn — to hone new skills, to assess what it is I don’t know.
- What is your current work and what other jobs have you had since graduation?
I am currently a Field Representative with the NH State Employees’ Association. I help workers advocate for themselves when concerns arise in the workplace. I train and educate union members regarding their contract provisions and how to access their rights at work. Prior to that, I had worked as a Community Organizer with New Hampshire Citizens Alliance. There, I worked with volunteers to organize “bird-dogging” at campaign events during the 2010 elections. My first job after Antioch was at American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire, where I was a Staff Representative and worked with union members to organize their workplaces.
- How did Antioch’s Advocacy program help you get there?
For one thing, I had incredible experiences in my practicums. My very first one was with NH Citizens Alliance. I was able to meet such incredible people in NHCA, and that was really my introduction to the progressive community in Concord. My second practicum was with the NH Coalition for the Public Funding of Elections, now known as the Coalition for Open Democracy, an advocacy group working for campaign finance reform. I even got to personally work with Doris “Granny D” Haddock, the woman who ran for the U.S. Senate after walking across the country at age 88 because she believed in a cause. My final practicum was with the NH AFL-CIO, which was my entrance into the labor movement and led directly to my job at AFT-NH. There, I was given an education in why workers join together to fight for better wages, benefits, and rights.
- Is there anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask?
The only thing I could add is that Antioch will always have an incredibly important place in my life and in my heart. The people who taught me, nurtured me, and cared for me will always mean so, so much to me. I will learn from them forever. And Antioch made that all possible.