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Monmouth College's People of Change continues to evolve

Not long after Neddy Velez ’17 of Chicago founded the group Women of Change at Monmouth College in 2015, she and others decided a name change was in order.

Velez created the social justice organization to promote conversation and awareness on different social issues throughout the Monmouth College community. The organization’s transformation into People of Change (POC) was made to encourage other genders and races to join the group and empower people on campus.

Last fall, People of Change hosted events to promote its name and mission, beginning with a fun “Game Changer” event, which drew nearly two dozen students, allowing the organization to raise money and get its name out on campus.

In November, POC hosted its second annual Empowerment Workshop. A Saturday was dedicated to sessions for students and faculty that promoted conversations happening around the world. Every session related back to empowerment and how to empower those in the community.

The main event over the course of the fall semester was People of Change’s involvement with Monmouth’s United High School, introducing its “5-in-5” series. The series is designed to deal with five major issues over the course of five weeks: diversity, empowerment, equity, self-love and self-identity.

POC made a helpful impact on the students, who got very involved with each activity. The organization plans to visit the school at least once each academic year to bring awareness to issues that some high school students have yet to experience.

“I really enjoyed that the students we talked with seemed to understand our message and were genuinely interested in what we spoke about,” said the organization’s vice president, Abby Kuzmanich ’19 of DeKalb, Ill. “They were very involved with our activities and wanted us to come back more often. I look forward to visiting them again next year.”

Moving into the current semester, People of Change has more plans for involvement with the community. The organization will host a self-defense class for minority communities on campus to help ease anxiety over recent events in the media. Monmouth Director of Security Andrew Davis will lead the event, which will also let students know how much the College is concerned with its students’ well-being.

On April 22, the organization will host a “Capture the Flag” event from 1 to 3 p.m.

“More events are yet to be concrete; however, they will most definitely be worth the wait,” said POC president Kaitlyn Rule ’19 of Geneseo, Ill. “I am extremely proud of what this organization has achieved by already making a strong impact on our campus and community within a year of being founded.”

“What we have going with this organization is a great thing,” said Velez. “We could do more – so much more – with it. It starts with people knowing that we are here to fulfill a need. They need to believe in it and actively engage in it.”

People of Change meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Special Collections Room on the third floor of Hewes Library. As part of the meetings, the organization discusses various social issues, as well as ways to combat negative stereotypes.