Rio Grande – Students at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College are working to be leaders on campus and in their communities. As a way to learn new methods to achieve this goal and share their own ideas with other college students across the state, students from Rio attended Independent College Day in Columbus this semester. The event, hosted by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Ohio, brings college students throughout the state together to advocate for higher education in discussions with their legislators. Rio’s Interim President Catherine M. Clark said she believes taking the students to the conference gives them more opportunities to be active in making changes to improve higher education opportunities across the state.
“The participants learned about government relations and heard the presentation by Ken Marcus, U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights,” Clark said. “Additionally, we met one on one with our own legislators. The students were impressed with the time that the legislators took to respond to their questions and have asked for additional opportunities for similar meetings.”
Independent College Day gives students a chance to visit the State House in Columbus and get the experience of discussing policy and legislation that have an effect on students and higher education. Rio Senior Kaylynn Bell said she enjoyed networking with other students throughout Ohio and sharing her Rio story with her legislators.
“It was exciting to speak with our senator, state representative and the lobbyists about Rio. They were very interested in hearing our stories about what brought us here and what kept us here as well as our academic experiences through Rio,” Bell said. “It was so important for us to be able to have these conversations and talk to them from a student’s perspective, especially since they aren’t in this area to see Rio first-hand. These conversations open doors for further discussion. I’m thankful I was able to go on this trip because it was a great experience for networking and professional development.”
After the event, State Representative Ryan Smith visited campus to continue the discussion with students and hear more of their stories. Student Engagement Coordinator Seth Lawrence said he feels it is important to provide students with unique opportunities such as Independent College Day to expand their educational experience.
“It was interesting to see our students getting to interact with our legislators who they may not have had a chance to meet. These conversations went really well and the opportunity continue the discussion with Representative Smith here on campus shows our students made an impact at the event,” Lawrence said. “We really enjoyed our time at the conference and it meant so much to our students to have Representative Smith come to campus. We’re very grateful that the AICUO offers this opportunity for their institutions because having these conversations with our legislators and fellow colleges help us continue to provide education to our community.”
For more information on the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, contact the Office of Admissions at 740-245-7208.