Students travel to Capitol to lend voices to dialogue about community college

02.10.2015 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao

PASADENA, Texas – Approximately 50 San Jacinto College students traveled to Austin, Texas, on Feb. 3, 2015, for Community College Day at the Capitol to participate in conversations about higher education.

For Emmanuel Quiroz, the trip hit home as legislators spoke of helping students from all walks of life, including disadvantaged backgrounds.

"I graduated from Pasadena High School in the top 25 percent and was accepted to eight universities, but even with scholarships, I couldn't afford the total cost to attend any of them," said Quiroz. "I decided to attend San Jacinto College for music and will now be the first person in my family to graduate with my associate degree. This is a huge step for me."

Quiroz and his peers were among nearly 2,000 community college supporters who gathered at the Capitol to focus on the 5-Point Campaign: Legislative Priorities - workforce and skills alignment, measuring and funding success, college readiness, transfer and articulation, and Texans in community colleges.

In addition to tours of the Capitol, San Jacinto College students visited with Sen. Larry Taylor, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Rep. Ed Thompson, Rep. Wayne Smith, Rep. Ana Hernandez, and a legislative aide from Sen. John Whitmire’s office.

"Students need to know about the bills coming up and the ones that impact us as students," said Quiroz, who serves as president of the San Jacinto College Central Campus Student Government Association, treasurer of the choir club, and is a member of the psychology club. "If we don't get involved, we can lose it all."

Quiroz has paid his way through college with help of scholarships and paychecks from H-E-B and as a campus student employee. He will graduate from San Jacinto College this May with an associate degree in music. His goal is to attend either Texas State University or the University of Texas at Tyler in the Fall.

Trisha McCurdy, treasurer of the San Jacinto College South Campus Student Government Association, will graduate in December with an associate degree in cosmetology. Having worked approximately 15 years as an accountant, the single mother knew it was time for a career change and to become involved in what is happening in legislation for community colleges for her child's future in education.

"I decided to go to Austin with the group because I wanted to know what they are talking about in the Capitol as far as education goes," said McCurdy, who also marched in Washington D.C. recently with SkillsUSA and advocated for Perkins funding. "I think about my son's future everyday, and that's why I came back to college. I want him to be happy."

Like Quiroz, McCurdy received tuition assistance through San Jacinto College scholarships. She is the vice president of SkillsUSA college/postsecondary for the state of Texas, president of the SkillsUSA South Campus chapter, and vice president of the South Campus cosmetology club.

"This was a great day, and I feel like I am more involved, especially with the people I look up to, like our San Jacinto College Board of Trustees," said McCurdy. "I encourage any student to attend college, especially San Jacinto College, and to get involved on the community, state, and federal level."

Community College Day is held every two years and hosted by the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) and the Community College Association of Texas Trustees (CCATT).

For highlights of Texas Community College Day 2015, visit the Tagboard at https://tagboard.com/ccday2015.

About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.