Creating meaningful engagement

Kat Rohn

Composing music and being a social advocate are more similar than you might think. You’re generating a movement, in both senses of the word, that you hope will attract and inspire people, and maybe change the world.

Master of Professional Studies in Civic Engagement (CIVE) student Kat Rohn, who studied music composition as an undergraduate, personifies this idea. “Putting together all of these different pieces to make something that's resonant as a whole is not all too different from what it looks like to engage people in civic life.”

Rohn was doing fundraising work for the U of M’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences when they applied to the civic engagement program, hoping to eventually step into a leadership role at a nonprofit.

“There are so many different approaches to making social change and civic engagement happen, so having that space to explore and reflect on them is really valuable,” says Rohn.

Rohn also says it’s a natural fit, as they are already engaged in civic and social life.

“[Being] a member of the LGBTQ community and the heightened political landscape around this really pushed me into thinking about what my engagement looks like.”

A month after being accepted into the program, Rohn got a new job as executive director of OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. “I jumped into the job that I was hoping to set myself up for,” Rohn says. “But now I get the experience of going through both together.”

Rohn believes that activism and advocacy are about creating significant improvements on small and large scales, in geographical communities as well as communities connected by issues or identities.

“For me, so much of this is about engagement in the community sense but also the policy sense,” Rohn says. “It's about thinking deeply about how change happens in communities and what leads to the most meaningful changes … [and it’s] about trying to move towards building a more equitable, inclusive, welcoming state and doing it through civic engagement.”

This story was adapted from the College of Continuing and Professional Studies