Meagan Biscamp: Small moves make a difference
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Meagan Biscamp is bringing social work lens to politics, transforming her community on a macro and micro level. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work from University of Michigan where she is concentrating in politics and public policy. What started as Meagan’s simple desire to help others has bloomed into a passion-driven career focused on impactful policy and practices. Small moves made a big difference in Meagan’s career trajectory.
Meagan Biscamp was born and raised in Jasper, a small East Texas town. Meagan described her childhood as being in a “bubble”—she had not known major conflict or injustice. But then, during her eighth grade year, Meagan was exposed to the news of a hate crime that gained international attention. In 1998, James Byrd, Jr. was murdered by three white supremacists. Byrd’s death was a gruesome reminder that racism still festered in Texas. In the weeks to follow, Meagan vividly remembers protests and counter protests. The streets were full of armed Klansmen and Black Panthers shouting at one another. Meagan said this experience deeply impacted her, giving her a racial justice lens for her continued community work.
In the early 2000s, Meagan’s dad Bobby Biscamp was elected as Jasper County Tax Assessor-Collector. This was Meagan’s first exposure to a political campaign. At the time, Meagan helped because it was her dad. Looking back, she realized the incredible insight she received behind-the-scenes. Meagan describes it as an incredible experience where she was able to learn about both the pros and the cons of public office. While running for office one day was not on Meagan’s radar, her dad’s campaign helped build her desire to run one day.
When Meagan was seventeen, she left East Texas and headed to Austin. It was here that Meagan had the freedom to explore her queer identity and began attending classes at St. Edward’s University. Meagan saw college as her ticket out of Jasper but was unbridled in her passions. Without direction, Meagan quickly realized that she was not ready to attend college and began working.
Meagan would return to college years later to pursue a degree in social work. The catalyst behind this decision was her close friend’s HIV diagnosis. Initially, she didn’t know how to help but wanted to do something. Meagan started an AIDS walk team—walking every year for the past six years. The organization of the team really inspired her to continue organizing. Her friend was facing obstacles in life like homelessness and substance abuse. Meagan worked with different agencies to help this friend find treatment. She realized the difficulty of the system and wanted to become an advocate, providing navigation to others in need. Meagan decided to enroll in Austin Community College at age thirty-two.
Meagan re-enrolled in the midst of the 2016 election, a highly contentious presidential election year. The combination of her social work studies and the presidential election influenced her interest in macro-level social work (the concept that effective social work can be accomplished at a policy level). Meagan transferred to St. Edwards, where she pursued her bachelor’s degree in social work.
While studying at St. Edwards, Meagan was approached by a professor to attend NEW Leadership Texas, a nonpartisan program that addresses the underrepresentation of women in American politics. Meagan decided to take a chance and apply for the program, unsure of what to expect. We are thankful she did. Meagan described NEW Leadership as one of the most impactful experiences in her leadership journey thus far. At the time, Meagan felt insecure about her presence as a leader. Society has engrained in women that we must be the strongest voices in the room—literally. But Meagan viewed herself as analytical and observant. During a personality workshop at NEW Leadership, Meagan learned about turning perceived weaknesses into strengths. She recognized, in a room of extroverts, that she was just as powerful and unique in her own abilities. It changed Meagan’s leadership trajectory, giving her the boost in confidence she needed. “It was exactly what I needed at the right moment,” she said.
Because of the connections made at NEW Leadership, Meagan bloomed during her final years at St. Edward’s. Meagan founded her campus’s first IGNITE chapter, an organization dedicated to building political ambition in young women. She also joined a social work organization. Meagan advises young women interested in pursuing politics to become involved in local orgs. Prior to her return to school, she was not interested in joining community groups. But, after being pushed by a colleague, she sees the benefit. “Just to have people on the same path or similar path is really important. It is important for support and encouragement,” Meagan says.
Meagan went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from St. Edward’s University. Now, Meagan is a graduate student at University of Michigan, studying social work with a concentration in public policy. One of Meagan’s focuses is homed in homelessness. She is completing her graduate internship with a county homelessness program where she will be working directly with data and policy specialists. She is passionate about helping homeless folks in her community. Additionally, because of the presence of substance abuse in homeless communities, Meagan also prioritizes impactful work around substance use treatment.
Meagan provided parting advice to young women interested in politics. “I encourage any woman that is interested in a career in politics. It has been male-dominated—especially white male-dominated field—be prepared to face obstacles but don’t let them stop your journey,” she said.