by Jessica Garza-Hutmacher
Suffering to pay tuition, trying to find a job and affording a living are all experiences that Whatcom Community College students and staff had, will have to or currently are facing. State funding and budget cuts are going to make the struggles a whole lot worse.
On Oct. 13 a group of students took a trip down to the Skagit Valley College Chautauqua to discuss higher education and what Whatcom has done for them individually. On a collective note, they each used their personal stories in hopes to persuade, the Washington State House of Representatives Higher Education Committee (the panel), not to make further cuts in higher education.
Morgan Hein, among a few other Whatcom student representatives, mentioned the importance of our higher education. He is an active student council member, creator of WOFL (Whatcom Oration and Forensics League) and expressed strong opinions about “not cutting funding. Without the key elements of faith and opportunity, Hein would not be where he is now. Without Whatcom, he would not be where is he is now. If “things being continued the way they are, I can’t continue coming here,” Hein said.
Student Samantha Sawyer, a 21-year-old mother, who is 26 credits deep into the paralegal program, focused on the future of her son. Sawyer’s states that “if it were not for Whatcom Community College, I would not be confident in my ability to provide for my family’s future.” Sawyer asks the panel to “remember me when considering my college’s future funding needs.”
In response, representative Susan Fagan said “Sam, I can relate too,” and recognizes that the story Sawyer told, is “similar to many.” Representative Judy Warhick said that Sawyer’s piece was “motivating because I know you have overcome huge obstacles.”
Other students who advocated for the college were Melisa Nelson,
Vonda Dilorenzo, and Gurshan Parmar. Each of them had a different perspective and insight on the significance of the community college experience and rewards.
“We should be investing in our education, not cutting it,” said Parmar, a freshman at Whatcom. He also boldly stated that higher education should not be a “luxury” for the wealthy.
Nelson took the “pay-it-forward” approach. She reminded the panel that they too were once in her shoes. With those words, she encouraged the panel to imagine an educated work force and turn it into a reality.
Lastly, Dilorenzo, a three-year-student has come a long way considering the financial increases. To make up for the costs, she currently works two jobs. She said that with budget cuts, students like her wouldn’t get the opportunity to have their college supported solely by financial aid.
During the event, all of the panel members listened attentively to all speakers. Representative Larry Sequist told Whatcom students that their speeches should be posted on YouTube.
On another note, Kristine Lytton, another member of the panel, told students to look at the scale. “Expectations are up here, and our revenue is down here,” she said.
Representative Warhick left the students with a little more hope. “We can’t afford NOT to invest in education,” she said.
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