HUNTINGTON, Ind.— Ten Huntington University students participated in a Student Lobby Day in Indianapolis sponsored by the Independent Colleges of Indiana on April 20.
During the day, students talked to their individual representatives, including Reps. Matthew Lehman and Dan Leonard, and other state legislators, including Sen. Travis Holdman and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, about the need for better state financial aid programs for institutions of higher education while also observing the give-and-take of the legislative process.
“I really enjoyed my experience at the statehouse,” said Jacob Smith, a freshman music education major from Berne, Ind. “I was able to successfully deliver the message of thanks for state financial aid and to ask for their additional support. I was able to share this message with Reps. Matthew Lehman and Dan Leonard, Sen. Travis Holdman and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. It was very encouraging to hear that they supported state aid and that they would do what they could to help.”
The day had a profound impact on many of the students.
“The day was a good experience,” said Brittany Blazier, a freshman music education major from Ossian, Ind. “The senators and representatives were very helpful and friendly. It was great to see how state government works.”
in their own words
The following is a firsthand account of the students’ experiences:
“My purpose was to thank the legislators for student grants and to ask them to continue to support us,” said Will Stauffer, a sophomore Bible and religion and communication studies double major from Churubusco, Ind. “I felt I accomplished this, especially with Sen. (Jim) Banks and Rep. (Kathleen) Heuer.”
“Talking with Rep. (Richard) Dodge was a new experience for me,” said Alan Grime, a sophomore family and children ministry major from Hamilton, Ind. “I was really surprised how easy it was to get to speak with legislators. I had been on the House floor before but never when it was in session. It was amazing to see the parties work together.”
“Rep. Dan Leonard talked with us about various state grants and how they want to put a checks-and-balances system in place for the 21st Century Scholars program,” said Jessica Musselman, a sophomore psychology major from Huntington, Ind.
“Talking with my officials was really awesome,” said Laura Watson, a sophomore elementary and middle grades education major from Paoli, Ind. “The one I spent the most time with was Rep. (Matt) Ubelhor. He said that in order for the programs to continue, some changes needed to be made. … I want to be able to touch lives through my vocation as they do through theirs.”
“Rep. Dan Leonard was very courteous to us and gave us students a small tour of the House of Representatives floor,” said Alicia Stauffer, a junior communication studies major from Churubusco, Ind.
“It was nice to sit in on the legislative session for a few minutes and see how they discuss and vote on amendments,” said Johanna Caron, a freshman music education major from Warsaw, Ind.
“When we entered the statehouse it was fairly quiet. However, by the end of our stay, it was packed wall to wall with people,” said Mariah Town, a junior exercise and movement science major from Huntington, Ind. “Sen. Jim Banks, who left a caucus just to come see our group, informed us how important student-aid money was, and it was very encouraging to hear he wanted to help support our cause. … I learned it definitely takes a lot of work and patience to be in the House or Senate, and I support all of the hard work they put into it.”
“The main thing I learned was from Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman,” said Shar’Niese Miller, a junior social work major from Fort Wayne, Ind. “She told us that we are not too young to have a voice. She told us not to be afraid to speak up and talk with our representatives because we matter.”