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Advocating For Opportunity: MC Students Ask Lawmakers To Increase College Affordability

As they weaved through the storied halls of the Miller Senate Building, the 13 Montgomery College students who made the trek to Maryland’s capital remained focused on the mission: Ask their elected officials to address student debt and tuition affordability, and to support the construction of the Catherine and Isiah Leggett Math and Science Building on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.

Student Advocacy Day, an annual event that brings hundreds of students from Maryland’s community colleges to Annapolis, provides an opportunity to engage personally with legislators and their staffers. All three MC campuses sent student cohorts to Annapolis.

Giresse Achouaking (right)

“Montgomery College has been a lifesaver, in a way,” said Giresse Achouaking, a second-year student representing the Rockville Campus. Achouaking was speaking with Ronald Zucker, a legislative aide to State Senator Cheryl Kagan, who represents Gaithersburg and Rockville. “MC gave me the opportunity to discover more of what I want to do and do it at an affordable price, so I am here to make sure that that keeps going for the people who will attend Montgomery College after me.”

Dr. Kimberly Kelley, vice president and provost at the Rockville Campus, echoed that sentiment.

“We need to make sure that these students have opportunities,” she said to Zucker. “Part of the problem is the cost of tuition, and one of our strategic goals is to keep it affordable. We have students who are struggling financially and need your support.”

MC gave me the opportunity to discover more of what I want to do and do it at an affordable price, so I am here to make sure that that keeps going for the people who will attend Montgomery College after me

Capital projects and facilities were on students’ minds, as well. Students advocated for the Catherine and Isiah Leggett Math and Science Building, which is set to start construction in December.

In addition, the Germantown Campus cohort emphasized the importance of workforce and trade training, which Montgomery College offers through its Workforce Development & Continuing Education classes.

The Germantown delegation speaks with Delegate Kirill Reznik (right)

“We are looking to increase education and program availability for trade schools. Students need to have the option of a different path,” said Hunter Tzou, also a second-year student at MC.

Students also asked legislators to fund cyber security programs and support students with disabilities.

Delegate Kirill Reznik, whose Montgomery County district includes Germantown, said his intent is to make community college as affordable as possible. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, we have to work to make sure money is in there,” he said. “We want to prioritize education. We are committed to doing it.”

 

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