Taking a Chance and Finding RESULTS
Tamara Bates will be the first of 88 grandchildren in her family to graduate from college.
“I always wanted something different,” said the 22-year-old rising senior at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. “I just want to motivate my peers, because they need it the most. We were put on this earth to serve a purpose. You just have to put yourself out there, be willing to take risks, and have an open mind.”
It was this gutsy attitude that led Tamara to RESULTS three years ago, when she took a chance and applied to the REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship after learning about it during an event at her school.
“I didn’t really know what the program was about, I just signed up for it,” Tamara said. She soon discovered that besides receiving training in community organizing, media skills, and advocacy, she would be able to directly engage with members of Congress about the issues she cared about most, including SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp program.
“For me, the situation with SNAP benefits hits close to home because my mother and I are both recipients,” Tamara explained. “RESULTS gives you a platform and pushes you to be a better person and a better advocate. It helps you tell your story. You have millions and millions of people who actually don’t get a chance to tell their story because they feel powerless or scared to share.”
Through her work as a REAL Change Fellow, and now as a participant in RESULTS’ new Experts on Poverty program, Tamara is determined to fight the stigma associated with vital programs like SNAP. She also wants to empower others to share their own stories and become skilled advocates for change.
“This is my third International Conference. A lot of like-minded people come together to change lives, change their environment, and change the world. That’s what is so exciting to me. Some people say they want to do this or that, but they never take the action to do it. But at the RESULTS conference, you get that motivation to go back home and do what you said you’re going to do.”
Tamara said her work as an advocate is only beginning. As one of 15 participants in the Experts on Poverty program — comprised of those with firsthand knowledge of U.S. federal nutrition programs — she will continue to receive training and mentoring from RESULTS staff on effective storytelling techniques. Perhaps most importantly, she’ll have the opportunity to keep sharing her perspective and experiences with her elected representatives, her community, and the media.
In addition, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities recently recognized Tamara as a 2015 All-Star Student for her accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.
She was thrilled to visit the White House in September and said she is already looking forward to the next International Conference, slated for June 25-28, 2016.
“I’ll be here next year. You have to continue your journey.”