A group of students gathered in the early morning to board a bus bound for the 19th annual Higher Education Advocacy Day, which took place in Montgomery on Thursday Feb. 22.
The group, organized by the STARS committee in Student Government Association (SGA) was composed of Troy University students from various organizations, eager to take part in lobbying for money for higher education.
With cheers of “two thirds, one third,” and “no funding, no future,” Troy University marched with other public universities around the Capitol building and State House, ending on the Capitol lawn where they had a luncheon with legislators.
Gov. Kay Ivey spoke to schools about the education budget and the importance of preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.
“I’m proud to say that my first education budget that I’ve put together and introduced to the Legislature is the largest investment in education in a decade,” Ivey said. “When the legislative folks and the governor can work together, can communicate, can collaborate, you make a whole lot more progress.
“I want to thank you [students] for your passion, your energy, and your commitment to respect the institution of higher education that you attend, and I encourage you to always be loyal to that institution’s values and mission.”
“I think the most outstanding thing in this process was that we got to know that there are other ways of doing this same thing… I know that I could advocate for higher education just by going back to Troy and speaking to the Senate or House member in my area,” said Mavis Awuku sophomore nursing major from Ghana, West Africa a member of the STARS committee
“My favorite part was listening to Kay Ivey speak because it was remarkable to see someone rise through the ranks and still remember where her roots were and find ways in order to improve where she was coming from. She was just a high school teacher and that is such a big inspiration.”
Some of the students who were in attendance are also education majors, knowing that their future careers will be dealing with the politics of school, they agreed to spend the day parading around the capitol buildings and eating with state legislators to discuss what higher education means to them.
“The experience of advocating for something that I really believe in with people that appreciate it the same [was inspiring],” said David Whitfield, a sophomore music education major from Sterrett, and a member of the Sound of the South. “It was really cool to hear from people who make decisions for our state, in a more relaxed manor, that they want the same thing we want.
“Education is important in all forms and I’m glad to see that it’s supported by people who make decisions for Alabama.”
This desire to better higher education has shone through the state’s newest budget proposal, which will give universities in Alabama a funding increase of $37 million, about 3 percent according to AL.com. This budget was passed in the House but has not been voted on by the Senate.