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  • Melania Zilo

4 College Students Share How They Are Creating Long-Term Social Change

Keep scrolling to read how four incredible students are stepping up to create change in their communities! Maybe we could all learn a thing or two.


I feel that as a college student, specifically in the age of technology, one of the easiest ways to inspire long term social change is being mindful of what you post on social media. This can be applied to anything such as the Black Lives Matter movement, resources/information regarding COVID-19, or ways to help students who are in danger of being deported. Whatever the case may be, creating a space on your page—no matter its size—that is understanding and inviting others' opinions, is the best way to incite change. To me, especially, as a white man, I feel like it's imperative that I accept questions and share resources to educate my friends and followers so that the black community and other POC no longer have to be burdened with the task of continually explaining their feelings and pain. It is also essential to determine whether the people you are having these important conversations with are open to meaningful discussion or are just trying to argue; learn to spend your energy wisely. This all takes a lot of patience and learning, but change in our society must be continuously inspired, and it starts with our generation. Much love!

-Chris, 20

I’m working to make long term social change by connecting with the movements I support on larger scales. My college has many activist groups that allow me to volunteer at organizations that lead the movements. I find that connecting with the community already working towards achieving social change, keeps me productive and energized in working towards the cause. I am also actively using my social media and the reach I have in my daily life to share the messages of the movements I support. As I become more aware and educated, I make it a point to have the uncomfortable yet necessary conversations with the people around me who I see living in ignorance and complacency. The things I find most important for creating social change, in the long run, are putting constant pressure on the systems that oppress, continuing to amplify the voices of those who have far too long been silenced, to never stop learning, and, of course, voting!

-Alexis, 18

Change is always occurring, and as we go deeper into college and become older, the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. When I arrived at college, I quickly saw two different worlds with different people: those who are hungry and those on auto-pilot. Change is necessary now more than ever, but more importantly, we need to change how we take care of ourselves and, yes, each other. Being empathetic is the #1 thing I’m most supportive of during this time, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement because we all so desperately need it. We need to rethink how we practice empathy in our daily lives. If you like this picture I'm about to paint, then, trust me, you’ll love empathy.

Imagine you just got to class, only to realize you've forgotten your pencil on test day. There’s another student behind you, and they notice you panicking, but recognize that they have an extra pencil on them. They, too, once forgot a pencil on a test day and knew the feeling of stress and panic it can give an individual... You’re probably already stressing over the test, tired from cramming so much information in that beautiful brain of yours, and the added stress isn’t helping. The student behind you finally taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey, I have an extra pencil, you can have it if you’d like. I too can be forgetful, and I know tests are already stressful”. I bet you’d say yes, thank the other student, and say to yourself, “damn, that was nice.”

That, my friends is the most simple change. It's the idea that the student felt your anxiety as if it were their own and chose to make your day a little easier. They empathized. This is the force our generation needs to push; it's the least we can do. It's small steps like this that grow into bigger and better calls for action. Imagine a world filled with empathy that properly functions off of mutual respect. I promise it's not utopian!!! Believe it or not, we’re the future of this world. If you want the same old same old, then you aren’t hungry enough. Let’s be the generation that’s hungry for change, and show the world the power and influence we hold. Let’s lead with love and lead by example.

-Olivia, 20

This year has been incredibly eye-opening for me. Both politically and mental health-wise, the year has given me insight into how to better myself and the environment around me. In regards to social change, my first step is to go out and vote!!! To be honest, it took me a while to register, but I knew we needed some serious change in this nation. My family comes from Venezuela, a country run by dictators who have completely demolished my country's beauty. I would hate to see the United States turn to that. As American citizens, we still have the luxury of voting. Every vote counts!!! This not stressed enough. It's essential to vote so that progressive leaders with a better sense of direction can step up. Another way I plan on taking action towards social change is by educating myself. Environmental issues, political issues, or whatever it may be, education mustn't end at the national level. Education is global! Educate yourself on the Yemen crisis, the Black Lives Matter Movement, Venezuela's political issues, Jewish antisemitism; there is so much to learn! Knowledge is so powerful. Education is the catalyst for meaningful conversations that can lead to change.

Lastly, another step I'm taking to create social change in my community is having those difficult conversations at home and with friends about all of these global issues. After the murder of George Floyd sparked national outrage, I had an in-depth and challenging conversation with my mom on how the Hispanic community should learn and stand with all POC. I explained to her how racism is prevalent in the Latinx community, and how it all goes back to our roots and how we were taught to believe that "white is right" (which is definitely not the case). She understood and heard me, and now is much more open to encouraging inclusivity and equality. This is just the beginning of how we can all learn to be better allies and change the world.

Liz, 19

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Melania Zilo

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