What Happened the First Time Champion Selena Warminski Advocated on Capitol Hill

Selena Warminski had just joined Shot@Life as a pharmacy student and member of Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). She was brand new to direct advocacy when she attended her first Summit in 2018 and her experience is proof that trained advocates can make a big impact right out of the gate. She served as the National Chair for Operation Immunization of SNPhA and now works in a hospital in California. We caught up with her to learn more about her initial advocacy experiences.

How did you first become involved with Shot@Life?

I got involved with Shot@Life through Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). The woman who was the Chair of Operation Immunization, an education campaign of SNPhA, encouraged me and a few other committee members to attend Shot@Life’s Champion Summit. It was the first time I’ve been an advocate and my first time meeting with lawmakers.

What was your first meeting on Capitol Hill like?

My very first meeting was a member-level meeting with Senator Gary Peters of Michigan. I attended along with Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President at the United Nations Foundation. It was pretty nerve-wracking to have my first meeting ever be with a senator, but it was easier than I thought it would be.

It turns out that Senator Peters and I both went to Michigan State University for our undergraduate degrees. I knew that before the meeting thanks to my research. I had on an MSU pin, and upon meeting me, he saw it said, “Go Green!” That immediately made me feel more comfortable. From there, I went on to share why funding global childhood immunization programs is so important.

You mentioned being a bit nervous. How long did it take for your nerves to subside?

My nervousness went away as soon as I started talking. Knowing what to say was easy because I had reviewed the Shot@Life talking points and fact sheets before the meeting.

I went into the meeting a bit anxious, and I left feeling inspired and energized.

How were your other meetings on that first Hill Day?

My other meetings were great, too. Everyone in the offices was really kind. Representatives and their staffers know that it is their job is to serve constituents and they create a very welcoming environment.

There was one staffer that I worried would be opposed to vaccines based on some information in her bio, but when we met with her, she was very receptive and supportive. It’s good to keep an open mind, but also make sure you’re prepared.

What kind of preparation do you recommend?

Spend time reading staffer bios and Shot@Life info sheets before your meetings. It’s intriguing material.  The content is helpful, and you’ll definitely use it again.

What other advice do you have for people attending the Champion Summit?

Bring comfortable shoes!

Every champion is different. Coming together and listening to everyone’s stories was amazing to me. Take the time to really listen to your fellow champions.

Remember that you don’t need to have an advocacy background or policy experience to be a successful champion. What’s important is that you care about vaccinating kids and do the work to stay informed. Also, don’t worry, Shot@Life arms you with all the facts you need.

How did you feel at the conclusion of your first Summit?

Last year’s Summit was one of my proudest moments. I’m grateful to have attended, because I gained the motivation and skills to talk to powerful legislators. The Summit helped me become an even better advocate, which led to me traveling to Uganda and ultimately getting my position in SNPhA.


Want to be like Selena and meet with lawmakers, interact with other advocates who care about global vaccinations efforts, and feel empowered? Then sign up for a champion training here.  Already trained? Please share with a friend who may be interested in joining you.

Looking for a lighter lift and a fan of digital advocacy? You can join the call for vaccines for all here.

  • Shannan Younger joined Shot@Life in 2016. Prior to that, she worked as an attorney and a nonprofit professional. Shannan attended the University of Notre Dame, where earned her degrees in English and in law.  She also earned a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. She is a writer, with many pieces on health and...