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My first week with the SBCTC legislative internship

January 21, 2022 by Mirian Mencias

The SBCTC legislative internship is no small token. In my case, it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I come from a low-income background where most of my family members have lost faith in getting out of poverty. I want to change that cycle. I have to admit that when I received the phone call in December that I was being accepted for the internship, I was excited and couldn’t ever imagine what an extraordinary experience this was going to be.

This internship has not disappointed me. The very first week was filled with many introductions, meeting amazing people in high-profile positions that change the lives of many students. It was an honor to meet all of them. From the amazing Jan Yoshiwara to Ha Nguyen and Melissa Williams who all work in equity, diversity and inclusion, I was excited to meet these women because the work they do opens doors for students and makes education more equitable for students like me.

The second week was an overwhelming moment — like a roller coaster. It's been exhilarating. For the first time I had the opportunity to learn how the legislative process works, even testifying for something I believe in. I was able to use my voice in support of HB 1659, which would provide more funding for students, offering bridge funding for students to get help with books, shelter and day care. This is essential to students like me: an adult with a family and small children so we can stay in school. We need help with these items. We are more than just students: we are parents, daughters and humans with many other needs. This bill recognizes that we are more than a bodies in a chair in a classroom.

When Chair Vandana Slatter presented the bill, it felt like she was speaking directly about me. It was an emotional experience — it was a fantastic moment that almost moved me to tears. It made me feel seen and heard for the first time.

The feedback after the testimony was incredible. From Ha to Arlen, they all made me feel seen and heard, but most importantly appreciated because I shared my story. All of their feedback made me feel supported, and that my voice matters.

This week I have been learning how to read a bill properly. I started reading and following HB 1724, which would provide support for permanent housing for people who may have barriers to finding other rental housing. I continue to learn and grown in this amazing internship.

I am grateful for spaces like this because they are so important for students like me to know our voice matters and that, yes, we can make change happen. Thank you, SBCTC, for giving this space to students like me.

Last Modified: 6/13/24, 8:40 AM
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