Brian Hiatt, MS '05Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability
- Why did you choose Antioch’s Advocacy program?
I had been working in fish documentation, but while collecting data was important, I wanted to make more of an impact. I had stumbled across some similar colleges in California and started to look into other areas of advocacy and found Antioch’s online, and realized it was something I wanted to learn and that it was much more practice based. I had heard of the school and its values and what they stood for and thought it sounded great.
- What did you like most about your time in the program?
The community there was incredible. I went to major state university for undergrad, and graduated at the top of my class, but never really applied myself. But at Antioch you just had these great relationships with professors who were interested in you and pulled the best out of you. You also had the student body that was just incredible. The coffee houses, getting together with drinks to working together on projects and in class just made it great. It wasn’t just studying something in a book and pontificating on it, you were studying something in a book and then applying it, not just learning how it plays out in theory but seeing for yourself how it actually played out. Being surrounded by people who were passionate about the same thing really made you feel like we could all make a difference, just being around such positive and supportive people really made it something special.
- What valuable skills do you think you learned in this program?
The obvious answer is how to be an organizer, how to think strategically and how everything comes back to building power. A lot of people who want to change the world don’t have that power analyses with them yet. One of the unexpected things I got through the program was how to be a stronger writer. This was through a real world class that I was writing in. You come to graduate school thinking you can write well, but that is not always the case. Really honing your writing and communication skills was another huge thing that greatly helped. So much of it is just applied to the course content itself, how to be an effective change agent and the varying roles and mechanisms you can use to do that.
- What is your current work and what other jobs have you had since graduation?
After graduation I did my internships in Maine with youth based voters with a non-profit to bring younger voters to politics in a way that made sense to them. I did this internship through another student at Antioch that was a year ahead of me, when they had a need to hire someone I joined the staff. I did the media work, the media and public relations, and running the website and early online platforms for election alerts and petitions as well. It was really cool to be part of these progressive programs. At the end of the day it was great to organize people to vote. I later ended up going from that job to an organizer training in D.C from across the country where you do projects while you were there. From there I found work with my current boss and came out to work at an online marketing, fundraising and consulting firm in San-Francisco. We are one of the industry leading firms as far as online marketing goes for these progressive causes. One of the best examples is our work with Planned Parenthood, any of the emails that come from them were impacted by use and all the things that go into it. At the end of the day it’s all about engaging online constituents and working with organizations to make their wishes come true, whether it is contacting congress or sharing viral videos on Facebook.
- How did Antioch’s Advocacy program help you get there?
On a tangible level it gave me the skills to be an online strategist and organizer and be qualified to do what I do. Also less real but more important in some ways was the networking. It was because of a student at Antioch that I got my internship with the league of young voters and it’s because of my internship that I got hired with the league of young voters and it’s the training there that led me to my current job.
- Is there anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask?
On the whole it was just a really great experience, being surrounded by likeminded people who were passionate about things you were and who really cared about your education but also who cared about you as a person too.