Lindsay Cobb and Michael Li are Shot@Life champions and student leaders of the Immunity Campaign at the University of Iowa. They are both passionate vaccine advocates on their college campus and in their communities.
What motivated you to become a Shot@Life champion?
Lindsay: I was motivated to become a Shot@Life champion after talking to other champions on my college campus. I was already interested in vaccine advocacy but did not know how to get involved until meeting other students who were already doing it. This helped me realize that young people can have their voices heard, even by members of Congress.
Michael: In my freshmen year of college, I joined the Immunity Campaign, a student organization at the University of Iowa that works closely with Shot@life to advocate for global vaccine funding and programs. After learning more about Shot@Life, I found that becoming a champion was a logical next step to keep increasing my advocacy and meeting other like-minded advocates beyond the scope of my university.
What moments as a champion have been particularly meaningful to you?
Lindsay: The most meaningful moments for me as a champion have been connecting with community members in Iowa City during some of our outreach activities. They have all been so supportive of the cause and appreciative of the work that Shot@Life does.
Michael: The most meaningful moments for me have been connecting with congressional offices that I might have otherwise never talked to. It is wonderful to support a cause that is bipartisan because while I might not agree with many policies of a congressional office, I have found that they almost always receive our message warmly.
Tell us about your role as a student leader and the process of getting other young people involved in this work.
Lindsay: Being one of many student leaders on campus, getting college students involved can be difficult because there are so many other organizations and issues on campus that can grab their attention. We like to draw people in by explaining that getting involved does not have to be a huge time commitment and how simple it can be to reach out to congressional offices to voice their opinions. Having food at meetings always helps too.
Michael: As student leaders, we often have the opportunity to reach an audience that is completely new to the world of advocacy. This can be challenging, as it is difficult to grab the attention of a busy college student. Thus, we try to make it fun for people to get involved. Whether it is teaching people about the cold chain through a board game or throwing a pizza party phone bank, we always spruce up our events to attract people that might be hesitant to join. Often people are surprised to find that they grow to love advocating for vaccines even without the free food!
What would you tell others about getting involved in vaccine advocacy?
Lindsay: I would love for other people to know that getting involved in vaccine advocacy does not have to be a difficult process. Start with something simple, like tweeting at your members of Congress, and then build your way up to the more time-consuming activities, such as meeting with congressional offices. It is also not something you have to do on your own – Shot@Life and other champions are always there to support our advocacy actions.
Michael: I would tell others that it is much easier than it seems! Getting involved in advocacy can be intimidating, but it only takes one email or one phone call to start getting comfortable. Even bigger actions like meeting with members of Congress are much more approachable than most people think, especially with all of the great materials and support Shot@life gives us. There are also so many active advocates to reach out to that would love to help other people get involved!