Published or Revised February 12, 2013
Eight students from Paris Junior College attended Community College Day at the Texas Capitol in Austin Tuesday, Feb. 5, and met with their legislative representatives to discuss funding and other issues. Shown from the left are Lucas Robertson, PJC President Dr. Pamela Anglin, Jamie Williams, Taylor Bigony, Lynsee Parish, Jerry House, State Rep. Dan Flynn, Ruger Carstens, Rose Lindsey, Carlee Bishop and PJC Student Life Director Kenneth Webb. View more photos on Flickr »
A trip to Austin for Paris Junior College students to mark Community College Day got off to a great start Monday evening as the group met PJC President Dr. Pamela Anglin to see the State Capitol Building lit up at night.
“They really enjoyed spending time with Dr. Anglin,” said PJC Director of Student Life Kenneth Webb, “and the trip to the Capitol provided lessons they’ll remember all their life.”
Webb also is sponsor for the PJC Student Government Association.
Making the trip were PJC students Jerry House of Bogata; Carlee Bishop and Taylor Bigony of Greenville; Lucas Robertson and Rose Lindsey of Paris; Ruger Carstens of Quinlan; Jamie Williams of Royse City; and Lynsee Parish of Yantis.
A very busy Tuesday began early with a meeting between the students and State Sen. Kevin Eltife’s education aide. The students told their individual stories and stressed the importance of community colleges to Texas.
Next they attended a rally with about 1,500 students and college representatives.
Then they were off to meet with State Rep. Dan Flynn of Van just outside of House chambers as the Legislature was in session. After lunch, the students had a quick meeting with State Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville and then went to a meeting with State Rep. George Lavender of Texarkana.
The Texas Association of Community Colleges and the Texas Junior College Student Government Association sponsors Community College Day. The event allows students to gain insights into the legislative process and meet with their representatives.
“I took government and thought they [legislators] had it easy and that’s not the case,” said Lindsey. “I learned how hard our state senators and representatives work. Rep. Lavender, especially, took an interest in us and every individual comment we made he took the time to give a thoughtful answer.”
“My experience was great, everyone was very professional, and we had fun,” said Williams. “I also learned that there are representatives and senators and clerks who specialize in college funding.”
“The trip gave me a real sense of what Texas is about,” said Robertson. “I never knew how simple it is to speak to your legislators.”
Parish agreed: “It was my first trip to Austin, and I never knew how regular people could go to the Capitol and talk to their senators and representatives, and they’ll actually listen to you. All the people we talked to were wonderful.”
“I wasn’t aware of the Conceal Carry Act that would allow handguns on campus,” said Bishop. “I learned a lot and I think we accomplished quite a bit.”
“It was cool meeting the people for our area and putting faces to names,” said Bigony. “We got good information about how our government works.”
“I had no idea of the size of the Capitol, with the two underground levels, before this trip,” said House. “We had productive meetings that put a face on the legislators’ constituents in college.”
“The first hand look into the political process that we received was immensely educational,” said Carstens. “It was quite fulfilling to know that my words, and the words of my fellow students, could potentially have an effect on the decisions that will be made regarding community college funding. I am thankful to have been chosen to represent Paris Junior College. The school has given me so much, and it was an honor to be able to speak on its behalf.”
“Taking PJC students to talk to legislators during each session is very effective in our lobbying efforts,” said Dr. Anglin. “Legislators can hear first hand what PJC being affordable and accessible means to students.”
Students received a handbook from the Texas Junior College Student Government Association. It included the following facts:
The Texas Association of Community Colleges has a five-point campaign for the 83rd legislative session. It includes workforce and skills alignment between high school career and technical education and community college programs and a statewide common core curricula that would create universal programs and allow students to more easily transfer between schools.
“All 50 community colleges, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Association of Businesses came together to put this legislative agenda together,” said Dr. Anglin. “These five points will strengthen the future of education in Texas.”