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Student Tyler Washington now considers his State and Local Government class at Howard Community College one of his favorites, helping him move that much closer to declaring a major. His inspiration? A recent guest lecture by Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford.
“Knowing he grew up here and became a political figure is inspirational,” recalled Washington. “When I asked him my question, he was looking me directly in the eye and made me feel that I’m not just some person in the crowd.”
Washington was not alone in his reaction. The visit marked classmate Mike Altner’s first-ever meeting with a state elected official.
“I listen to a lot of talk radio, so I’m pretty up to date with the issues facing the state,” Altner, a criminal justice major, explained. “But I wanted the lieutenant governor to clarify some things because it can be hard to get the facts about what their plans are versus what the talk show hosts spin.”
For Maryland Lt. Governor Rutherford, his visit was an opportunity to do just that – give students an opportunity to hear directly from him.
“I’m hoping [my visit] will make the students think a little bit more and investigate,” said Rutherford.
The lecture served as a homecoming of sorts for the lieutenant governor, who taught a business course at Howard Community College last fall, right in the midst of his campaign. He said balancing a class and a campaign proved to be challenging, but one that he truly enjoyed.
Professor Joanne Drielak had seen Lt. Governor Rutherford at the college and out in the community prior to the election, and she thought his perspective would contribute to her spring State and Local Government class. Therefore, before the campaign ever ended, Drielak invited Rutherford to speak, and the result was a lieutenant governor as guest lecturer.
“Hearing directly from a newly elected official and former candidate complements the curricula of the State and Local Government class well, especially since our topic right now is campaigns and elections,” said Drielak. “It was an honor and a pleasure for the class to spend time with the lieutenant governor and hear first-hand about his experience in the campaign.”
With the campaign long over, Rutherford used the speaking opportunity to reflect on his past year. As he recalled, the campaign initially felt like a “long shot,” but it started to build “momentum” around the Fourth of July holiday last year.
Rutherford credits social media with encouraging greater numbers of people to attend events and get involved. As Election Day approached, he said that he believed he and now-Governor Larry Hogan would win. Maryland voters proved him right, resulting in a victory over former Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and his running mate, former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. The election was only the start. Since then, he and the governor have been busy with the transition and with leading the state.
After Rutherford invited students to ask questions, they inquired about everything from the state legislature, Baltimore City, and public schools to the Chesapeake Bay, the Second Amendment, and law enforcement.
Rutherford does hope his answers and his visit encourage more students like Washington and Altner to consider working in government service. While it can be hard work, serving the residents of the state of Maryland has proven to be rewarding.
“You get a sense of fulfillment because you get things done, and you help people and the state,” said Rutherford.