Focus on Students
Chesapeake College students participate in Advocacy Day

Delegation meets with legislators in hands-on learning experience

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ANNAPOLIS -- For 10 Chesapeake College students, this was a civics lesson brought to life.

“I think it’s a great idea to have college students go talk with their delegates and senators,” said Chesapeake College student Kathryn Haas, a member of the student delegation that visited Annapolis Wednesday as part of Community College Student Advocacy Day.  “It gives college students a voice.  It was really an eye-opening experience.”

The Chesapeake delegation was part of about 250 students from the state’s 16 community colleges who gathered in the morning to hear state officials discuss legislation affecting community college students.  Each college’s student delegation then met with members of their local legislative delegation.

“It kind of makes the legislative process seem personal,” said Mark Cutter, another member of Chesapeake’s student delegation.  “I also found it so cool how easy it was to bring up my viewpoints with our legislators.”

Ten Chesapeake College students participated in Community College Student Advocacy Day on Wednesday, traveling to Annapolis to meet with state legislators. Above, Senator Richard Colburn, center, poses with (left to right) students Jordan Harris, Manar Dajani, Mark Cutter, and Kathryn Haas, Chesapeake College President Barbara Viniar and Vice President for Student Success Richard Midcap.

Ten Chesapeake College students participated in Community College Student Advocacy Day on Wednesday, traveling to Annapolis to meet with state legislators. Above, left to right are: Delegate Jay Jacobs with students Samantha Stelz, Stefan Bordonaro, Joseph Cole, Casey Joseph, Sydney Small and Jimmie Jenkins, and Delegate Stephen Hershey Jr.

Chesapeake College students traveled to Annapolis Wednesday to participate in Community College Student Advocacy Day. Chesapeake College President Barbara Viniar, sixth from left, is pictured with (from left to right) Samantha Stelz, Stefan Bordonaro, Joseph Cole, Casey Joseph, Manar Dajani, Kathryn Haas, Jordan Harris, Sydney Small, and Jimmie Jenkins.

Jordan Harris, center, was a member of the Chesapeake College student delegation that visited with Upper Shore state legislators Wednesday in Annapolis. He is pictured with Delegates Addie Eckardt, left, and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

The Chesapeake students met with Senator Richard Colburn (R-37) and Delegates Addie Eckardt (R-37B), Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-37B), Stephen Hershey Jr. (R-36) and Jay Jacobs (R-36).  Haddaway-Riccio told the students - who are all in their late teens or early 20s - that you’re never too young to get involved in the political process.

“During my senior year in high school I was part of the legislative page program,” Haddaway-Riccio told the students.  “You get to work on the House and Senate floor and see everything in action.”

Haddaway-Riccio wasn’t much older than many of the Chesapeake students attending Advocacy Day when she was elected to the House of Delegates in 2003 at the age of 26.  While that made her the youngest female to win a House of Delegates seat, she said the irony is that she replaced a man - Kenneth Schisler - who was the youngest person to even win a House seat when he was elected at age 21.

“He was a big inspiration to me,” said Haddaway-Riccio.

Eckardt told the students she was once one of them.

“I took classes at Chesapeake College and then I went on to Salisbury University and UMES (University of Maryland Eastern Shore),” said Eckardt, who became a psychiatric nurse.  “I know what it’s like to do what you have to do in balancing work, school and family.”

Colburn also emphasized his Chesapeake roots, noting he is “the only Chesapeake College graduate to have successfully run for both the House of Delegates and Senate.”

The student delegates also discussed current issues with their legislators, including hot-button items like gun control and potentially ending the death penalty.  And Eckardt talked about what she called “the biggest challenge we face in Annapolis - how do we balance all the needs of the citizens with the revenue that’s coming in?”

Rohry Flood, Chesapeake College’s director of student life, said the day was an extremely valuable experience for the students.

“I think they learned more in one day about state and local government than they might have learned in all of high school because it was a hands-on experience,” said Flood.  “I think they learned it’s important to be involved in the process.  Important issues can come down to one vote and you can have an influence at the local level.”

The 10 students - Haas, Cutter, Jordan Harris, Casey Joseph, Stefan Bordonaro, Samantha Stelz, Sydney Small, Jimmie Jenkins, Joseph Cole and Manar Dajani - represented four of Chesapeake’s five support counties.  Flood was responsible for preparing the delegation for the day.

“Rohry did a great job preparing our students for this opportunity, and I was impressed with how seriously our students took the opportunity provided by Advocacy Day,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Chesapeake College’s vice president for student success.  “They were clearly interested in learning more about the political process and maybe even getting involved in it, which is one of the outcomes we hoped for in planning this event.”


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