Focus on Students
Community College Student Advocacy Day

Students met Upper Shore state delegates

Friday, February 10, 2012


The Chesapeake College delegation met with several legislators on Thursday. Pictured here, left to right, in the front row are: Alyssa McCormick, Cassie Nelson, Sarah Spicher, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Del. Addie Eckardt.In the second row, left to right, are: Ryan Apodaca, Del. Jay Jacobs, Del. Michael Smigiel, Del. Steve Hershey, Richard Cutter, Angel Groce and Ronald Blake. In the third row, left to right, are: Kyle Gadson, Omari Chenoweth and Nikolaus Nowottnick. 

ANNAPOLIS – Chesapeake College students visited Thursday morning with Upper Shore state delegates, discussing the importance of participating in the political process and the critical role played by community colleges in higher education as part of Community College Student Advocacy Day.

All of the Upper Shore legislators who met with the students – Delegates Adelaide Eckardt (R-37), Michael Smigiel (R-36), Stephen Hershey Jr. (R-36), and Jay Jacobs (R-36) – encouraged them to become involved in the political process. Jacobs suggested that students start with local government – "where the rubber hits the road," he said – while Hershey advised them to get involved with the local, county-based political clubs and Smigiel said students should "volunteer whatever time you can put in on issues that are important to you."

Asked by one student about the best path to politics, Eckardt answered with a smile, "First, move out of our districts."

More seriously, Eckardt said students should consider "getting involved in local organizations, working on somebody’s campaign or trying to get your foot in the door as an intern with the House of Delegates."

Chesapeake College students also met briefly with Senator Richard Colburn (R-37), who reminded them he is "the only Chesapeake College graduate to serve in the General Assembly", while also encouraging the students’ political activism.

The students, meanwhile, impressed upon their legislators the value of a Chesapeake College education as the legislators prepare to vote on the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget.

"Chesapeake has provided me with a really great opportunity to learn in a small-class setting," said Sarah Spicher, a sophomore who graduated from Easton High. "It’s been an amazing experience, working with faculty and staff who really care about you."

Alyssa McCormick, a Preston resident who was homeschooled and earned a GED, also said Chesapeake was a great starting point for her college career.

"I wouldn’t have been ready to go to a big university," said McCormick. "Chesapeake prepared me to take that next step."

Smigiel noted he is a community college graduate, and Eckardt reported that she took courses at Chesapeake.

After meeting with Upper Shore legislators, Chesapeake’s student delegation took part in the statewide Advocacy Day program.

Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D-30) called community colleges "a great pathway to opportunity." Noting that a person with a college degree is only half as likely to be unemployed as someone with just a high school diploma, Busch said, "Education opens doors."

Senator Thomas "Mac" Middleton (D-28), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, noted all the investment the state has made in community college capital projects.

"You can look around the state and see all the wonderful investments we have made in community college construction," said Middleton.

The state has appropriated $27 million of the $36 million budgeted for the Chesapeake College Center for Allied Health and Athletics construction project. However, those funds can’t be used until the college’s support counties approve their combined $9 million in local funding for the project.

"We hope our counties will approve funding for this project," said Dr. Barbara Viniar, Chesapeake College’s president. "We have hundreds of students in our Allied Health programs’ pipeline and these programs are critical in meeting our region’s needs for healthcare professionals. Hundreds of construction-related workers will also be employed during the course of this project."

Eleven Chesapeake College student leaders from a cross section of campus clubs were selected to be part of the college’s delegation. Student Life Director Rohry Flood and Director of First-Year Programs Dana Bowser were responsible for preparing the delegation for the day.

"We had great students participating, and both Rohry and Dana made sure our students were prepared to meet with our legislators," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Chesapeake College’s vice president for student success. "They took the time to seriously prepare for this activity, learning about the political processes in our state, and they really did a fantastic job representing the college."

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