Learning where to use my voice
Hello readers, my name is Melissa Littleton, and I have the honor of serving as one of the State Board’s legislative interns this session. My first week was filled with introductions and learning about some of the different departments here at the State Board. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and excited to hear my fellow intern MJ’s and my perspectives.
Currently, I serve as student body president at Tacoma Community College (TCC). Since holding this role, I have been exposed to a new way of thinking. I look at the campus through many different lenses and think how to optimize it can for students. I’m excited to see how my experience at the State Board will enhance this skillset.
Monday was the opening day of the 2022 legislative session, and it was very exciting! I testified of House Bill 1601, which would expand the current housing pilot that supports foster care and homeless students. If 1601 passes, each community and technical college in the State of Washington will receive $100,000 to build a support structure for these students. Colleges can utilize these resources in areas like providing access to food, laundry facilities, showers, storage, and housing assistance.
HB 1601 will assist with a real need at TCC. In partnership with leadership, student government discovered gaps in services for our housing insecure students. We are working on plans to strengthen our emergency support resources, and the funds from HB 1601 would greatly assist these efforts. Community college is a bridge to a better tomorrow, and HB 1601 widens the bridge to ensure more have the ability to cross.
This week I learned the importance of knowing where to use your voice.
After I testified, Arlen, the State Board’s legislative director, emailed me and said, “Thank you for representing 250,000 students with your leadership today.” I had not even thought about how many students I was advocating for when I testified. I was thinking about TCC and the past year of advocating for our homeless students and how important this bill is to our next steps. As I reread his email a few times, it was like another level/version of myself was unlocked. It was in that moment I learned we all have the opportunity to use our voice in powerful ways. Ways that have the ability to impact many. I learned the importance of understanding what and where decisions are made. I learned when you have an idea for change you need to be strategic and know the right person to share it with. I learned I need to expand my mindset and observe how change is made at this level.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein
Thank you for a great first week, State Board. I’m looking forward to building a better tomorrow, together.