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A student leader, student representative, student voice: Product of the community and technical college system

March 22, 2019 by Mustapha Samateh

“The type of person who can reach a goal or realize a dream is the one who has a strong character, courage, desire, and persistence in achieving it, not looking at how difficult circumstances are and how impossible it might be to carry through."

Zoya Naumchik

Mustapha testifying on the Washington College Promise Scholarship bill
Mustapha and Kristina testified at the March 19 House College and Workforce Development Committee in favor of the Washington College Promise Scholarship bill.

By utilizing our student voice, Kristina and I testified before the House College and Workforce Development Committee on March 19 in support of E2SSB 5393, which would fully fund the Washington College Promise Scholarship. It passed the Senate, and now it’s being reviewed by the House College and Workforce Development Committee.

Along with the Washington College Promise Scholarship legislation, Kristina and I have been monitoring the following bills:

  • HB 1041 (New Hope Act) would promote reintegration of former prison inmates. This bill will eliminate certain conviction records when requirements are met, preventing future discrimination in social service applications. This bill would ensure students in the community and technical college system would have a fair chance and overall access to higher education by keeping the same standard. HB 1041 was unanimously voted out of the House and was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee. It is currently scheduled for executive session on March 28.
  • HB 1702 would mandate colleges on ctcLink to specify which classes offer “low-cost” course material. “Low-cost” course material is defined as under $50, according to a 2017-19 statewide student lead survey that had over 10,000 participants. This bill passed the House, and had its first hearing on March 14 in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. Kristina testified in support of the bill last week.
Kristina and Mustapha on the hill
Mustapha and Kristina on the hill.

Along with keeping our colleagues informed, Kristina and I are also encouraging students to attend the Washington Student Engagement Network’s Advocacy Day on March 24 and 25 to further encourage support for the Washington College Promise Scholarship program.

I have to admit that before the experience of this internship, I had a small dream: study political science at the prestigious university, and one day land the best legislative internship in the state Legislature. Guess what? My dream officially came true even before transferring to a university! Of course, before achieving these goals, I was going through many challenges and obstacles in my life. Even though sometimes this “small” dream seemed to me quite unrealistic, however, I was still trying my best to stay firm and not give up on it. I was putting a lot of effort by eagerly working hard, staying optimistic, being involved on campus and taking leadership roles, hoping for the best, and having confidence in everything what I was going through. Without these qualities, I probably wouldn't have achieved this small dream of mine.

Kristina and Mustapha with Edward Esparza in front of the Legislative Building
Mustapha and Kristina joined by Edward Esparza, a student services policy associate with the State Board, who works closely with Mustapha and Kristina through the State Board's legislative internship program.

In order to succeed, I set a goal, I developed so-called strategy and plan, and scheduled a deadline for the goal to be achieved. It is sort of reminds me of A + B = C formula, where A stands for a goal, B stands for strategy and deadline, and C stands for an outcome and result. I had the unique opportunity to lobby for student priorities, monitor and evaluate bills relating to students in higher education. My overall internship experience helped prepare me for university, as well as prepare me for the working world once I graduate Edmonds Community College.

I found that my original expectations and objectives were more than met. I developed significant relationships with established people working in a broad range of public policy and higher education-related roles. I learned a significant amount about alternative strategies used in the legislative process, ways that government agencies are actively trying to reduce the externalities of educational services, and the higher education sector as a whole. I gained worthwhile experiences functioning in a fast-paced working environment, including practice networking. I also grew and matured as a result of living in a different area and commuting two hours or more by bus every day.

Mustapha, Kristina and Arlen Harris in front of the Legislative Building
Arlen Harris, legislative director for the State Board, joins Kristina and Mustapha in front of the Legislative Building.

This internship was incredibly valuable as a learning experience, both from an academic and personal perspective. Through the internship work I completed, I was exposed to many aspects of legislation and resources in higher education that I otherwise wouldn’t have been. This work was all associated with a specific project, it was all very practical and real-world. Almost all of my prior knowledge with anything related to the legislative process was theoretical or academic, and so adding tangible, advocacy implications made for interesting challenges and learning experiences.

Overall, this outstanding internship opportunity was a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot of information about the political process and all the functions of our state’s government. I recommend and encourage political science majors, or those who are interested in law, government, and policy work to try to earn an internship with the Legislature. Without a doubt, it served me well as a very rewarding experience.

Last Modified: 2/3/23, 10:03 AM
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