Fifteen students from Harford Community College were among the estimated 400 students from all 16 Maryland community colleges who took part in Student Advocacy Day 2017 in Annapolis on February 8. The students encouraged lawmakers to keep community college affordable, stressing the need for increased state funding.

HCC students who participated in Student Advocacy Day included Austin Barnes, Bella Santana, Brandon Arnold, Claire Hageman, Connor Auth, Dainaly Caraballo, Hakeem Wilson, Kat Cruz, Kayli Fonzi, Malik Bodrick, Megan Scott, Miguel Gracia Fraga, Savannah Feist, Steven Truant, and Wade Williams. Also representing Harford Community College in Annapolis were Dr. Dianna Phillips, President of Harford Community College; Brenda Morrison, Chief of Staff and Vice President for External Relations & Communications; Dr. Deborah Cruise, Vice President for Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness; Kurt Doan, Director for Student Activities; Caitlin White, Student Leadership and Orientation Specialist; and Lauren Ciambruschini, Communications Specialist. Harford, along with other Maryland community colleges, has had to raise the cost of tuition in large part due to funding cuts.

In the morning, students from each of the state’s community colleges gathered for the kickoff of the event at the Miller Senate Office Building. Along with students, Maryland lawmakers and community college presidents were among the speakers. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Senators Gail Bates, Bill Ferguson, J.B. Jennings, Barbara Robinson, Ron Young and Craig Zucker, as well as Delegates Anne Kaiser and Karen Lewis Young appeared at the morning’s rally and gave encouragement to the students.

After the gathering, Harford’s students visited their respective Delegates and Senators from their local delegations to learn more about Maryland political proceedings and to share compelling personal stories about their community college experiences. Representatives who generously gave of their time to meet with the students included Senator Bob Cassilly, Delegate Andrew Cassilly, Delegate Glen Glass, Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti, Deputy Minority Whip Susan K. McComas, Deputy Minority Whip Teresa Reilly, and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. Discussions centered on the importance and value of a community college education as well as its impact not only on their future but also the future workforce of Maryland.

The event was sponsored by Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC), an advocate for the state’s 16 community colleges and the educational needs of the students they serve. Student Advocacy Day is organized by MACC to provide students with direct access to their legislators.