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Huntington students meet with state legislators

Huntington, Ind.-The economy is hitting college students hard, too-financial aid programs under increased and intense demand, part-time jobs harder to come by, and family financial contributions drained by unemployment and dwindling value of assets such as homes. That's why some 250 students from 20 of Indiana's independent colleges and universities went to the State House on Feb. 24 to make personal calls on their hometown legislators.

Kerri McIntosh and Sen. Allen Paul
The group included five Huntington University students:

Stacie Cheek, a senior social work major from Franklin, Ind.

Tabitha Farrar, a freshman elementary education major from Kewanna, Ind.

Kerri McIntosh, a freshman music education major from Union City, Ind.

Shar'Niese Miller, a freshman sociology major from Fort Wayne, Ind.

Andrew Wheeler, a freshman worship leadership major from Fort Wayne, Ind.

Shar'Niese Miller writes a letter to one of her legislators.
Cheek, Farrar and Wheeler met with Sen. Travis Holdman. Farrar also talked with Sen. Randy Head, and McIntosh spoke with Sen. Allen Paul. Miller had an impromptu meeting with Rep. Win Moses.

The students had three messages to deliver: Sincere thanks for the legislators' ongoing commitment to SSACI funding (need-based aid from the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana); the urgent need for their continued support of this program; and the critical importance of increasing the number of Hoosiers with bachelor's degrees to Indiana's economic recovery. The students will be wearing bright blue scarves bearing the message "Fund Students First," as well as nametags identifying themselves, their hometowns, and their campuses.

Tabitha Farrar and Sen. Randy Head
This gathering of students from the independent campuses was coordinated by Independent Colleges of Indiana and began at the Indiana History Center. Before marching to the State House at noon, the students were briefed by ICI President Hans Giesecke and Vice President Anthony Maidenberg on current legislative issues involving state-funded need-based student aid.

(clockwise) Andrew Wheeler, Tabitha Farrar, Shar'Niese Miller and Stacie Cheek
"We're so pleased that the students had the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with their hometown legislators at the State House," said Giesecke. "Our students experienced the thrill of serving as advocates for their student financial aid."

Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) is a nonprofit corporation that represents the state's 31 nonprofit, accredited, undergraduate degree-granting institutions of higher education. ICI member institutions enroll more than 83,000 students (approximately 23 percent of all students statewide) and annually produce 34 percent of all bachelor's degrees in Indiana. Information about ICI is available at

(left to right) Tabitha Farrar, Kerri McIntosh, Andrew Wheeler and Stacie Cheek in the senate gallery

(left to right, seated) Andrew Wheeler, Shar'Niese Miller, Kerri McIntosh, Tabitha Farrar, Heather Barkley, ICI Vice President Anthony Maidenberg and Nate Perry; (second row) Stacie Cheek) in front of the State House