Forging my path and personalizing the process
Moving bills through the legislative process is about relationships, and the student voice is of true value in that work. Those are two of the lessons I've learned so far in my experience as an intern with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Over the last couple of weeks, I banded together with like-minded individuals, worked on professional development, and strengthened my networking skills.
One of the issues that draws me to a career path in policy and advocacy is food insecurity on our campuses. On Feb. 16, I joined members of the Postsecondary Basic Needs Coalition for a lobby day on the hill to meet with elected officials on both sides of the aisle and express the dire situations that some of our students face daily. The coalition is supported by the United Way of King County and is made up of student advocates, higher education staff and faculty, and various community stakeholders who understand the value of . We began the day at the Abigail Stuart House for advocacy training sessions, education on legislation currently moving through the legislative process, and an inspiring pep talk from Rep. Debra Entenman of the 47th Legislative District before splitting up and heading up to the hill for scheduled meetings. The day concluded on the Capitol steps where Gov. Jay Inslee addressed the group with gratitude for the work being done to help students successfully complete their educations.
This week I participated in the Northwest Regional Equity Conference. Attended by over 500 students, faculty members, and social justice advocates, the conference provided a shared space to discuss ideas and tactics to further equity in our institutions of postsecondary education and community alike. Among the informative and inspiring sessions I attended were Best Practices for Serving Justice-Impacted Students, Dismantling White Supremacy Culture, and an amazing keynote session with Lakota Harden, a respected and award-winning organizer, community leader, and recipient of a Brave Hearted Woman Award and Sisters of Fire Award. The conference provided me with new ideas and approaches to continue furthering equity in both my personal and professional lives, as well as a network of colleagues with similar goals.
On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to connect with former Legislative Intern Matt Rounsley for lunch and a chat about his experience at the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and afterward. Matt is now working as staff for the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee for the legislative session. It was a great opportunity to get some insight as I plan the remainder of my education and forge my career path in government and advocacy work. Overall, I am beyond grateful for the experiences I have had in this internship thus far, those to come as the legislative session pushes on, and the yet unknown opportunities on the horizon.