Candice Clossum’s love of serving others began early. She remembers being eight years old and helping her aunt at a community food pantry. She says the experience helped mold her, and she brings a passion for serving and helping others to everything she does.
Candice earned a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2018 from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. During her undergraduate studies, she explored the impact she could have through advocacy by working as a part of the Black Student Union to improve the experience and success of Black students on campus. The experience catapulted her into advocacy work within the community, and she has never looked back. Advocacy speaks to her because she says that it can be taken in so many directions, from personal advocacy for and with an individual to larger systems change that affects all.
When she received an email in 2021 announcing open positions for Policy Fellows at The Scholarship Foundation, she knew that she had to apply, even though she was already busy with graduate school and her work as a case manager at BJC Behavioral Health. She remembers that the application asked her to select between federal, campus, or state policy, and she checked all three boxes because she wanted to help in any way that was needed. She was chosen to be a Federal Policy Fellow, and her focus is mental health support for students. Her goal, she says, is to shed light on student mental health issues and “get rid of the rugs that everyone is using to cover things up.” She is especially interested in broadening the conversation about student mental health to include graduate students as well as undergraduate students. Graduate students, she says, are often “expected to have everything together,” but they have a lot of competing responsibilities and may be “mom or dads or returning to school as an adult with more responsibilities. Juggling that is a balancing act.”
One of her favorite parts of participating in the advocacy program is getting to work with like-minded people, especially since her coursework for her master’s degree is still online. Lately, the Fellows have been practicing the skill of using their experiences to illustrate the effects of policy on individuals. She says, “In the advocacy program, no one is setting the priorities FOR us. We’re having the tough conversations, making the decisions. I’ve been a part of the affected population before, so it feels good to be on the helping side.”
Candice will earn her master’s degree in social work from UMSL in 2023 and plans to complete the licensing and examination requirements to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She hopes to eventually start her own practice, but she says she is remaining open and “allowing the pivot to happen.” One thing is certain, no matter what path Candice chooses, she will continue to work in service of others.