On March 4, the Nevada Assembly Floor hosted nearly thirty TMCC students who represented several on-campus organizations and majors (the Student Government Association, FLAMES, Financial Aid, Access, Outreach and Recruitment, Political Science, EMS, Fire Technology and TMCC High School among several others) along with Wizard the Lizard in the Nevada Legislature building.
When the Assembly convened to order, Wizard, TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom, TMCC SGA members Lex Coulter and Keziah Dutt, and NSHE Regent Carol DeCarlo were officially welcomed to the floor by Minority Whip and Assembly District 26 Representative, Lisa Krasner. Regent Jason Geddes, TMCC Political Science Student Oscar Rojas and EMS student Bailey Rimmer sat with Assembly District 25 Executive Committee Chair Jill Tolles.
Legislature is the heart of Nevada government
The Nevada Legislative session began on February 4 of this year; the reason why students—and mascots—make the journey the Legislative Mall in Carson City is so that they can share their stories—and concerns—with their elected officials. Nevada is only one of four states that conducts true biennial sessions, which means that the Legislature meets only on odd years—and during those sessions, meetings occur for 120 days. This grants organizations like TMCC a window of opportunity to have their voices heard.
TMCC Student Carmela Hailey, who is majoring in Biotechnology and who works in the President’s Office, said that this was her first trip to the Nevada State Legislature. “It was really cool to experience the fast-paced environment there,” she said. Hailey joined several of her peers in the hallways of the Legislative building where they waited to meet Representatives and Senators on their way to and from meetings.
“I was able to speak with Senator Ben Kieckhefer,” said Hailey. “I told him about how I am a transfer student and we discussed how my credits transferred over perfectly. I also overheard a lot of the conversations other students had with Members of the Assembly and Senators, and they were all really interested in what they had to say.”
TMCC Graphics Design major Katelyn Brooke also spoke with Senator Kieckhefer who asked Brooke about her degree. “He was very interested that I wasn’t a political science student, but a graphic design major. He was also happy to hear that the Graphic Arts & Media Technology degree is being expanded to a three-year Advanced Certificate and Bachelor’s degree at TMCC.”
SGA Member Lex Coulter also spoke to several representatives, including Senator Dallas Harris and Senator Julia Ratti. “Senator Harris encouraged me to go to law school,” said Coulter.
Nevada Senator Mo Denis, who is responsible for the legislation that made the Nevada Promise Scholarship a reality, stopped by the TMCC table and spoke with student and Nevada Promise Scholarship recipient Keeli Curl.
“This was the first time I’ve been to the Nevada Legislature, and it was an amazing experience,” said Curl. “I’m glad I was able to speak to representatives and lobbyists who gave me insight on how I can pursue a career in politics.”
Student Voices, Institutional Advocacy
After the Assembly meeting, TMCC students joined the Nevada Senate Education Committee Meeting. Standing Committee Members include Senators Mo Denis, Joyce Woodhouse, Marilyn Dondero Loop, Dallas Harris, Scott Hammond, Ira Hansen and Keith Pickard. Students were able to speak to the committee during moments of “public comment”—minutes allotted before and after the committee meeting for members of the audience to offer their thoughts in two minutes or less. TMCC students Akira Terry, Randall Hudson, Rachel Holderread and Lex Coulter spoke during public comment.
The event was also attended by several staff; Elena Bubnova, Associate Vice President of Research, Marketing and Web Services said that the day was about more than sharing student success. “TMCC Day at the Legislature is not only a fun and enriching experience for our students to witness firsthand the state legislative process, but it is also a unique opportunity to tell the TMCC story in the Capital and share the tremendous work that the College does for the community,” she said.
This is the first year TMCC has made its presence known on the Legislative Floor, joining other Nevada System of Higher Education Institutions like UNR and UNLV. Senators and Members of the Assembly took note of the bright-green attire worn by students and Wizard. Assemblyman Howard Watts tweeted: “You’d have to be cold-blooded to turn down a photo with Wizard.”
We think so, too.