Cathy Edwards, 21, a social work major at Ferris State University, chose her field of study to motivate people to make positive changes in their lives. Inspired by human rights issues like water accessibility, her primary goals are to help people in need and address social justice issues.
To Edwards, it’s the human rights factor that ties environmental justice and social justice tightly together. Populations left vulnerable to environmental justice issues are referred to as frontline communities, and often suffer to a greater extent due to affordability and accessibility of basic necessities like clean water.
Edwards sees access to clean, safe water as a human right.
“We all have the right to have clean water and adequate healthy food because we need it to survive. I just feel like these shouldn’t be controversial issues,” says Edwards.
Outside of school, Edwards is an Our Water, Our Vote activist with Michigan League of Conservation Voters. She says making an impact and inspiring others to get involved are what drives her.
“I think it is super great to reach out to others and give them a chance to act and make a change.”
The potential for monumental change is one reason why Edwards is optimistic about President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and the countless opportunities it could bring to communities everywhere.
President Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion investment in water infrastructure nationwide. In Michigan in 2020, Governor Whitmer introduced her MI Clean Water plan, a $500 million investment in Michigan’s water infrastructure that would improve affordability and access to clean water. These two plans working in tandem will ensure safe, clean drinking water is a right in all communities.
Edwards, who is starting her senior year this fall, hopes to work in public policy to create big change: “ We have to be preventative not reactionary in our actions because its the only way we’re going to create actual change. I just think we have to invest in a better America and start putting our people first.”
“The American Jobs Plan is super important. If it was passed with the full 2 trillion, it could really change so many people’s lives and just set our country on track for a brighter future. We have to invest in our country to make sure it thrives and to make sure everybody living here can thrive as well.”