BHC students meet Texas representatives


Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Stinnett

Students and faculty attend Community College Day in Austin, Jan. 26. Emilie Turner, Student Life coordinator (left), Damilola Olatunbosun, Rachel Olowoporoku, Hermela Lambero, Tomas Ariasi, Gisselle Lopez, Fatema Merchant, Angel Pineda Cuveiro, Chinoso Egboh, Jesus Rocha, Mabunga Malumo Jr., Edgar Betancourt and Adam-Mitchell Phillip.

Leonardo Rosas, Contributing Writer

For many students, the opportunity to talk with their local representative may seem unattainable. Some might not even know who their local representatives are or do not care.

To counter this, Brookhaven Campus sent a group of 12 student leaders from Student Government Association and the Male Achievement Program to the Texas Capitol in Austin to participate in Community College Day. The event took place Jan. 26 and was hosted by the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

The organization brought together students from community colleges all over the state to “interact with state leadership and learn how to effectively advocate for higher education,” according to the TACC website.

Angel Cuveiro, a member of the Male Achievement Program, said: “The great thing about this trip and my favorite part was just the environment I was in and the people I was with. It was very friendly. It made me feel very welcome, and it’s a good opportunity for students who aren’t aware of what happens in politics to go and see what actually goes on behind closed doors and not feel any type of discouragement, or feel like you’re left behind.”

Jeremiah Stinnett, Brookhaven Male Achievement Program lead, said it had been four years since TACC hosted Community College Day. Dallas College sent over 60 students – the largest delegation of community college students.

Dallas College was granted early access to the event and arrived a day early. Upon arriving in Austin around noon Jan. 25, Jesus Rocha, a political science major in the Male Achievement Program, and his peers explored the Capitol building.

To help hone their leadership skills, students were assigned to groups. Once in their groups, they were responsible for contacting and setting up a meeting time with their local representative. Students researched their representatives as well as their policies, then reached out to set an appointment.

Rocha said: “We called the [representative’s] office, but the office was under someone else’s name, so we had to find out who that was. And then [the] office had moved. Finally, we found out that the previous representative had dropped out. So, we had to find the new representative to contact.”

Rocha and his group managed to reach Rep. Kronda Thimesch of District 65. Having locked in a time to meet with their representative, students were to select a bill to discuss in their meeting.

Rocha said, “My bill initially was to increase the safety of disabled individuals during an emergency such as a tornado.” Thimesch said the bill was already active for higher education institutions, but the group could fit the bill around K-12 schools.

Stinnett said the group was delighted with the trip and glad they went. The group told Stinnett they hadn’t known they could communicate with their representatives before the trip, and they now have a better understanding of the democratic process.

“It was a great experience,” Rocha said. “I got closer to some of my friends and peers who have similar goals. It was fun, but also educational.”