Simone ’15: Taking Museum Advocacy to Capitol Hill

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Simone in an astronaut suit at Chabot.

On February 24, Simone Batiste ’15 will travel to Washington, D.C. to tell Congress why museums are important. One of two nationwide selected by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Simone will join more than 300 museum leaders from around the country for the 6th annual Museum Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Appointed as a Great American Museum Advocate, Simone will meet with our local California representatives and speak to a join session of Congress to make the case for federal support of America’s museums. Simone will be engaging directly in the embodiment of the Constitutional right of citizens to petition the government, sharing her first-hand experience of the powerful impact museums can have on the life of an individual.

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Galaxy Explorers in Hong Kong

Simone has been a regular volunteer at Chabot Space and Science Center through their Galaxy Explorers program, doing live public science demonstrations and explaining interactive exhibits. This past summer, she participated in a science exchange with the Hong Kong Space Museum. Cross-cultural teams explored differences in Western and Chinese astronomy in both Hong Kong and at Chabot. In September, Simone delivered a speech at Chabot’s fundraising gala outlining the value and personal impact the trip had on her: 

I have been a part of [the Chabot] community since the age of 5 when I attended science camp and learned how to make ice cream from just dry ice….Little did I know that my experience at Chabot Space and Science would lead me to travel to the Hong Kong Space Museum as a member of the peer-to-peer digital sky student partnership. During this adventure, I had an opportunity to meet and interact with students from across the world who shared similar passions and interests as I….I gained so much more than just learning about the stars in our universe. I developed life-long friendships, extensive new skills with technology, and personal growth and development.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at Chabot.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at a school in Hong Kong.

My experience with Galaxy Explorers has been truly beneficial and applicable to my life and activities beyond the museum. For instance, the knowledge that I acquire when I show demonstrations to the public, I can use in my physics, biology, and chemistry classes….Due to my love for life sciences, I would like to extend my passion in biology, study at Stanford, and become a doctor…I applaud each of you in this room and countless others, who inspire me to start by starting, do by doing, so that I and others can see our dreams become realities.

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan at a Chabot event.

Simone does not actually know who nominated her to be a Great Museum Advocate. AAM received a video of her speech and found her experiences to be a perfect fit for a Museum Advocate–an individual whose life was changed by their involvement with a museum. Simone’s experiences at Chabot, combined with her opportunities to further her science exploration at Athenian, have positioned Simone well to be a poised and articulate representative of the cause.

Good luck in D.C., Simone! We look forward to sharing your report of the experience upon your return.