COM and community college students converge on capitol
Making their voices loud, 15 College of the Mainland students joined with the largest crowd ever advocating two-year colleges on Feb. 3 during Community College Day in Austin.
The event, sponsored by the Texas Association of Community Colleges, allowed community college students to learn about state government, meet their state representatives and ask questions about issues affecting community college students such as immigration and financial aid.
“Students are citizens and voters. They viewed the capitol and shared their views with their representative,” said COM government professor Sean Skipworth.
State representatives also addressed community college students at the biannual event.
“You are the future of Texas,” said Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock. “Community colleges are an integral part of … progress. What you are doing will not only change your life but the lives of your children and grandchildren.”
After hearing from officials, COM students met with state Rep. Wayne Faircloth as he treated them to an overview of state government and offered advice.
“You have to be willing to work hard to get somewhere,” said Faircloth. “It’s your future. “We want to give you the tools you need to succeed. That’s what College of the Mainland is about, you receiving the training, you receiving the mentoring (to get a job). You’re not there just to get a grade. Build those relationships. Life is about relationships. I’m one of 150 (representatives) and I have one vote. So how am I getting anything done? I’ve got to find 75 people who agree with me.”
COM student Jose Alvarez, of Dickinson, agreed.
“He did give us some words of wisdom today. It’s the American dream to work hard and provide for your family.”
Students also toured the capitol, viewing the chambers where the state House of Representatives and state Senate meet.
“It was a good opportunity,” said Seanna McGee, a COM Collegiate High School student from Santa Fe High School. “It was nice being able to sit in those chairs (in a room used for judicial proceedings).”
For SGA president Carlos Torres, the day fueled his commitment to serve in student government.
“Everything is new to me, seeing the capital and how everything is set up,” said Torres. “My position (as SGA president) has opened doors. I definitely meet a lot of people. It’s a learning experience to see different perspectives.”
For the past decade, Texas Association of Community Colleges has worked with student groups, faculty members and college administrators to host Community College Day at the Capitol. It creates the chance for students to tell their stories of how community colleges have changed, and are changing, their lives.
COM student government participates in the event as part of its commitment to furthering communication and collaboration between COM students, administration and the community.