Student Advocacy Day Rally for Support=Success Campaign 2013
Students representing the College of Southern Maryland attended Student Advocacy Day Feb. 6 in Annapolis to thank the Southern Maryland delegation for supporting community colleges. Along with students representing Marylands other 15 community colleges they asked legislators to support Gov. Martin OMalleys proposed FY2014 operating budget that provides for a 7 percent increase in state aid to community colleges.
The day started with a rally in the Presidential Conference Room of the Miller Senate Office Building where Sen. Thomas Mac Middleton (District 28), an alumnus of CSM, gave an unscripted shout-out to the students of Southern Maryland. All politics is local, Middleton said, adding that the one-on-one that students would have with legislators during the break-out sessions make a difference. I get these wonderful letters [from students who attend Student Advocacy Day] with some of the stories about their opportunities and what the community college means to them, some of the struggles that people are going through, he said, adding that the messages really elevate the importance of funding community colleges.
Senate President Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (District 27) told students that he promises to keep the budget for Marylands community colleges growing. Students also heard from Del. Anthony Tony J. ODonnell (District 29C) who took the opportunity to recognize the students from CSM and the important role the college plays in Southern Maryland.
Later in the day, CSM students visited with Middleton, Del. John L. Bohanan Jr. (District 29B), Del. Peter Murphy (District 28), Del. Sally Jameson (District 28) and Del. John F. Wood Jr. (District 29A) in the Southern Maryland Delegation meeting room of the House of Delegates Building to discuss pending legislation and budget issues.
Bohanan told students that he considered it a good year for education and community colleges on the operating and capital side. We continue to try to hold down the cost of education. The state of Maryland has gone from the seventh most expensive in the country for public colleges and universities to nowwe are 26th, maybe 27th.
We think the community college system in our state is good, but we need to continue to make it better, Bohanan said, adding that currently 44 percent of Maryland residents have some level of college degree with a goal to increase that to 55 percent by 2025.
Murphy told students that on a personal level he knows the value of education and where that education can take studentsand that no one can ever take away a college degree. The delegation looks at things from a broader perspective, Murphy said, adding that education is good for the community, that people who go on to school past high school typically make more money and contribute more to the community.
Wood welcomed students and said the day had a full agenda for them to observe government in action. Out of the delegation, Wood described himself as the unlucky one since when he was growing up in Southern Maryland there was no community college. From high school he progressed to working for his familys grocery business, and then from serving people in the grocery business to serving them as a delegate, he added.
Jameson shared with students that while her children where young she worked part-time at CSM. As a former employee I can assure you it was a good working environment at that time and Im sure it still is. When you work for a companyand in this case a collegeyou develop a certain kind of loyalty. Id like to think that my loyalty as an employee there transcends and has moved along with my new position as a delegate for the state of Maryland. When we are looking at an issue and it involves education I always try to think about How is this going to affect the College of Southern Maryland and how is it going to affect each and every one of the students? Jameson said.
Christopher Allahiari, of Waldorf, said he finished high school with a strong grade point average, adding, I could have gone to a university but decided to come to a community college. Im part of the [student government], have had two jobs because of [CSM] and I have received scholarships like the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math scholarship through the National Science Foundation) and I feel that if I had jumped straight to a four-year school I would not have had these opportunities. I would have had to struggle with paying for my classes and needed loans. He thanked the delegation for their support of CSM and of students like him.
Im appreciative of the work that you do to assist us, said CSMs SGA President Thomas West, of Loveville. My situation is a little differentIm a grandfather. I had three kids by the time I was 21, so I couldnt go to school, I had to work. With all of my kids now having graduated from college it gave me an opportunity to come back [to get a degree]. Out of high school I had scholarships to anywhere I wanted to go, but I had to take care of my family. Coming back to college at this time, those scholarships are not available to me at 45 years old. So, for me to be able to get back into the system through a community college where it is very affordable to me was a blessing. Now, I can get started and work on my second career after working in corrections for almost 20 years. I get to come back and do something that I want to do, as opposed to something that I had to do to support my family, West said of his desire to work toward a degree in finance.
In summing up the day, Vice President of Student and Instructional Support Services Bill Comey said, It was a great day in Annapolis. Our students had a chance to not only talk with their elected representatives but to share with them why having a flexible, affordable college like CSM in their community is so important. When you hear the students stories you really get a better understanding of the role the college plays in their lives.
CSM enrolls more than 24,247 credit and continuing education students with more than 60 percent of area high school graduates beginning their academic careers at the college.
To view photos from Student Advocacy Day, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/2013sad.
For information on CSM, visit www.csmd.edu.