HCC Students Meet with Elected Officials, Advocate for State Support
More than a dozen Howard Community College (HCC) students met remotely with state lawmakers Tuesday, February 9 as part of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges’ Student Advocacy Day – a day to champion state money for community colleges and share how community colleges have empowered students’ futures.
Instead of traveling to Annapolis as in years past, community college students from across the state signed into videoconferences to participate in a student rally, where they heard from area lawmakers and student leaders. Then, proudly wearing their HCC sweatshirts, students met online with members of the Howard County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. One by one, students explained why community colleges need state support.
Mary Green, who started at HCC as a high school dual enrollment student, said HCC’s affordable tuition enabled her and two of her siblings to receive a quality education.
“Today’s college costs can be prohibitive to many families,” she said. “With the funding provided by our legislators, HCC has been able to offer me an outstanding education towards a future STEM career and a multitude of opportunities to volunteer and become involved within the campus and the local community.”
Gloria Zayas, a non-traditional student, enrolled at HCC to boost her technical skills. Her community college education helped her land a new cybersecurity job.
“Community colleges allow older students to go back to school if they need to pursue a new career, younger students to either get an associate degree or save a substantial amount of money in the pursuit of their educations and other non-traditional students to get an education,” she said.
Several students spoke about the importance of community college disability services.
“As a student with a disability, it's good to know there is an office at HCC to help students with disabilities be the best they can be,” said Emani Young-Moseley.
“I am a recipient of a state initiative that allows people awarded with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to return to school for practically free, except for fees and books,” added Anne Smith. “This is the only way I would have been able to return to school to pursue my degrees and attempt to transition away from painful, repetitive stress injury desk jobs.”
Students also spoke about community colleges’ operating and capital budget needs, streamlining the college transfer and financial aid processes and funding Maryland’s Community College Promise program – a need-based financial grant for eligible middle-income families.
“It’s important that community colleges are supported by our legislators because this college will continue supplementing my career goals and help me succeed both academically and financially,” said student Cristian Marquez.
Whether in person or online, students welcome the chance to share their HCC pride during Student Advocacy Day, said Schnell Garrett, director of student life.
“More than 20 years ago, HCC’s president (Dr. Kathleen Hetherington) had this idea to bring all of the community colleges together to advocate for students,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students, and I appreciate that our legislators are always open. They want to hear from our students, and they are always very gracious.”