Promoting Better Policy
Alexis Takagi '22 wanted to put what she learned in college into action and be an agent of change. That's one of the main reasons she chose to transfer to Santa Clara University two years ago. The Communication major is making that happen as a participant in the Independent California Colleges Advocate Program. ICCAP is the unified voice for the 380,000 students across more than 80 independent, nonprofit colleges and universities in California. It's a competitive, six-month program that develops the leadership, communication, and advocacy skills of participants and deepens their knowledge of how policymaking affects their education.
Alexis reflects on her experiences at SCU and her goals and responsibilities representing students across the state.
As an advocate, you are representing a large, diverse group of students. What are some of the goals you are pursuing?
My role is rooted in amplifying the student voice to effectively augment policy makers' understanding of the independent and nonprofit sector of colleges and universities. I am also co-chair of the Policy and Budget Team. Both roles include the goal of making education more affordable and accessible. Other priorities include increasing and creating student support and services addressing basic needs such as food and housing security. Another effort is expanding broadband and internet access to all students, as insufficient access to reliable internet has exacerbated learning challenges.
How did you get interested in the advocate program?
I found out about the fellowship through the LEAD Scholars program at SCU, which I think is fitting because LEAD is dedicated to promoting opportunities for first-generation students to share their experiences and be represented.
The application process included an essay portion about policies that you would like to see implemented in the context of higher education. I wrote about the importance of increasing financial literacy and efficient disbursement of financial aid. Without efficacious disbursement of funds, students face immense uncertainty about their ability to pay for tuition and other expenses. I am also passionate about policies and strategies that support student progress toward timely degree completion to reduce additional costs.
What attracted you to SCU?
I longed to be with like-minded students embodying agents of change and leaders of conscience. I wanted to actively apply what I was learning beyond the classroom, transforming the lessons learned into social change. I saw examples of students working on social justice initiatives through the Ignatian Center and Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and wanted to be an active contributor to the advancements that prior students have already started. I also enjoy the competitive nature of the student body and their willingness to always do and be better.
How have your experiences at SCU helped with your work as an advocate for students.
Two programs that heavily contributed to my work have been LEAD and the Ignatian Center’s Thriving Neighbors Program. Those two programs, in addition to my own experiences as a first-generation student, demonstrated the importance of amplifying student voices. Ultimately, ensuring that their needs are met and concerns are addressed. The Thriving Neighbors program gave me the opportunity to mentor high school students and help them navigate their higher education journey.