Taking a trip to The Hill in St. Paul is always an eye-opening experience for college students every year.
And this week was no exception as four Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud students (Melissa Ellenbecker, Cory Ley, Ryan Lemke and Rodney Coons) participated in the Minnesota Career College Association (MCCA) Hill Day and came away with these three valuable lessons:
1. Your elected officials are listening.
MSB-St. Cloud students met privately with Senator John Pederson and Representative Tim O’Driscoll on Hill Day. Medical assistant degree student, Melissa Ellenbecker, remarked later, “I was very surprised at how approachable they were. Both were receptive to what we had to say, and I’ve gained a new found respect for these two men.”
Ley, Lemke and Coons are all veterans and expressed gratitude to O’Driscoll, who sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee, for continued support of the GI Bill. Student Services Coordinator Shawn Kremer agreed that, “Representative O’Driscoll and Senator Pederson were great to meet with and gave our students their undivided attention.”
2. The legislative process is active and participatory.
Students learned quickly that they were not the only people on the Hill with a message that day. Advocates for new gun laws and those in opposition argued in an open forum overflowing capacity. It was also Hill Day for the Minnesota Nurses Association, and lobbyists for gay marriage were on site to have their voices heard. The Supreme Court was in session, and it was also the eve of the governor’s State of the State address.
Ellenbecker commented, “You really get an idea of a typical day within the Capitol and the State Office Building. I would most certainly recommend this to not only fellow students but to the general public! It may be a lot to take in; however, it really puts things into perspective with all that takes place within those buildings.”
3. It encourages you to push your limits.
Business degree student Cory Ley appreciated that the experience helped him practice his public speaking skills. Further, he explained, “This day helps you get out of your comfort zone, but be able to speak your own thoughts, in a professional manner, to state politicians that make decisions that could ultimately affect your college career, pocket book, and future working career. I honestly wouldn’t trade this day for anything and love seeking opportunities like this.”
Criminal justice degree student Ryan Lemke added, “It was nice to see the difference between the ‘television’ public officials and the homegrown senators and congressmen, and to know that they are very similar to us as a local population.”
At the end of the day, it was well worth the drive!