Student Advocacy Day Rally for ‘Support=Success’ Campaign 2012
Student Association (SA) leaders and representatives from the College of Southern Maryland joined students from Maryland’s 16 community colleges in Annapolis for Student Advocacy Day on Feb. 9. Fifteen students from CSM urged lawmakers from the Southern Maryland Delegation to keep community colleges affordable.
The day started with a rally in the Presidential Conference Room of the Miller Senate Office Building where Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-District 28), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told students of his passion for community colleges–especially CSM, as he is an alum and his wife works at the college. Asking if any representatives from the college were attending, two rows of students in matching CSM jackets erupted in cheers. Later in the day, Middleton visited with students in the Southern Maryland Delegation meeting room of the House of Delegates Building to discuss pending legislation and budget issues and to field questions and comments from students. He said that he favored returning to the Cade funding formula to restore a level of predictability of funding that is so important to college presidents.
Between hearings and votes, Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-District 27) visited students telling them to participate in community activities not only to give back to their community but as a resume builder.
“We are a peninsula–Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s County–and one of our most precious resources is you, and the most precious thing we can do for you is to provide you with a quality education,” Miller said.
Charles County Delegate C.T. Wilson (D-District 28) visited students telling them to surround themselves with great folks. “Don’t be the smartest person you know. Find someone who is smarter. You might be smart in one subject, get some guy who’s smarter in another subject–that should be your friend. Because, that’s how you’re going to be better. Don’t ever be the strongest person, the smartest person, the best person because you won’t have anything to aspire to.” Wilson also told students that the mixture of people from different backgrounds in Charles County is “our strength,” he said.
Cheniora High of Lexington Park told Delegate Peter Murphy (D-District 28) that her path to college had not been easy. At 15 and following the death of her mother, High dropped out of high school to care for her younger sister. “Throughout the years I had been told that I couldn’t do anything, that I would never succeed,” she said. When she lost her job a year ago, she didn’t know what to do, but knew that returning to school was the answer. “When I enrolled at CSM it had been 15 years since I was in school and I was scared out of my mind,” High said. She took her first class last summer and did’t do well she said because she didn’t believe in herself. She contemplated not going back. But, when she learned that she had inspired her younger sister to go to college, she felt that she couldn’t quit. In the fall semester she signed up for five classes. “My professors saw my struggle and they were very wonderful to me,” she said of the way that they treated her like family and took her underwing. She immediately wanted to get involved in helping other students which is why she came to Annapolis to speak to legislators.
“I support you, because you support us,” High said to Murphy.
La Plata Campus SA Treasurer Ricky Washington, of La Plata, also spoke with Murphy asking for his support for full funding of community colleges. Washington, who is in his final semester at CSM before transferring to Towson University, said he has no student loan debt. “CSM is affordable and I am [in Annapolis] to encourage elected officials to help us keep it affordable,” he said. Pursuing a degree in paralegal with an eye toward law school, Washington said that he wasn’t always so focused. He has learned that through hard work and determination he can not only dream, but see those dreams fulfilled.
“[Attending community college] is just the first step,” Murphy told student representatives. “Once you get it,” he said of education, “no one can take it from you.”
Students also met with Delegate James E. Proctor Jr. (D-District 27A) and a representative from the office of Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-District 29).
With more than 12,000 credit enrollments in FY2011, up 6 percent from the previous year, CSM boasts that more than 60 percent of area high school graduates begin their academic careers at the college.
For information on CSM, visit www.csmd.edu.