My Experience at the NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit

The Adventure of a Lifetime:
My Experience at the NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit

By Idaho Music Educators Association Collegiate President BriAnna Crook

If I had to pick two words to describe me, I would probably pick adventure junkie. If there’s something out there that will get my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping, I have either already done it or put it on a list of things to do sometime in the near future. I’ve snorkeled with sharks, hiked an active volcano, and even thrown myself down a mountain on a questionable luge cart. However, nothing—and I repeat, nothing—compares to the emotions I felt when I stepped foot in Washington, D.C., for my first ever Collegiate Advocacy Summit.


You know that rush of dread mixed with excitement that you get when you step foot onto a stage for a solo performance? You’ve prepared for months, but something just eats at you, telling you that you aren’t quite ready yet. That is how I felt when I stepped off the plane in D.C. It was early on a Monday evening, and I was greeted by the warm, humid air of the East Coast. I had never traveled completely alone before, and really didn’t know what to expect. My nerves were quickly calmed, though, when I met a girl from another state for dinner. We didn’t know each other before the conference but went home friends.

Collegiate Advocacy Summit
Photo: Ashlee Wilcox Photography, Documentary Associates LLC


I’m a pretty quiet person and generally keep to myself, but the excitement in the room at our ice-breaker games was too much to handle. The staff had us rotating tables every few minutes, meeting new people from across the country. Hearing about the success of their programs and love for music and education got me excited too. Our first evening of the Summit included the opportunity to spend a few hours in downtown D.C. exploring monuments, museums, and buildings. It was easy to be excited when surrounded by memorials of all the great leaders of our country with new friends.


It is difficult to stay excited forever, though, when you are learning about the true state of the country’s education system. As part of the Collegiate Advocacy Summit, you meet with your state MEA leadership and spend time learning about your state’s financial situation, what money was given to your state, and how you plan to present this information to your state’s U.S. senators and representatives. To say that this meeting was disheartening would be an understatement. The reality of education in our country is that it is not as valued as it should be. That realization, however, only fueled my passion even more for education advocacy and for music education.

Collegiate Advocacy Summit
Photo: Ashlee Wilcox Photography, Documentary Associates LLC


Throughout the week, we heard from many amazing speakers about their success with advocating for music in their schools. They spoke with such power that it was almost difficult to look away from them. They were so passionate about what they were doing. One speaker began her speech with a nice little PowerPoint, but her excitement and dedication to the field of education eventually had us all standing on chairs, shouting that music was something worth fighting for.

So. If you want to 1) experience a crazy range of emotions in a few short days; 2) make hundreds of new friends and professional connections from all over the country; 3) improve your own Collegiate NAfME Chapter; and, 4) have a ton of fun while learning about how to advocate for music education, I highly suggest you check out the Collegiate Advocacy Summit and experience it for yourself. You definitely won’t regret it!

Register today for the NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit. Registration closes when we reach 125 attendees. Don’t delay!

About the author:

Collegiate Advocacy Summit

NAfME Collegiate member BriAnna (Bri) Crook began her studies at Snow College, a Juilliard partner junior college. She then took time off to serve a volunteer religious mission in Hong Kong, China. BriAnna is currently a junior at Boise State University, studying music education with an emphasis on instrumental music. Her primary instrument is oboe, though she is proficient on piano as well. She teaches a flourishing studio of private piano and oboe students. BriAnna is currently serving as the Collegiate President of the Idaho Music Educators Association.

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