Day at the Legislature: Firsthand Representation

TMCC students, faculty and staff gather outside Nevada State Legislature building.
Jared Libby

You could feel all the spirit of TMCC’s community as you walked through the doors of the Legislative Counsel Building in Carson City on Monday, March 6. As representatives of our democracy poured in through the halls of the statehouse, they were greeted by a crowd of supporters decorated in their finest green-and-black attire. Mascots Wizard the Lizard and Mighty made their rounds, standing beside legislators for photo ops, and charming their way into hearts. Our presence was most definitely felt there!

The Safeguard of Democracy is Education

The Nevada State Legislature gathers at this government building for legislative sessions in odd-numbered years, beginning on the first Monday in February, after the election of Senate and Assembly members. Hearings are limited to 120 calendar days, and this morning would be truly special.

Thankfully, it was a brisk, golden sunrise that came up, lighting the way for our team of TMCC advocates to the chamber’s frosted gates. The American and Nevada State flags were fluttering calmly overhead.

Colleagues from Marketing and Communications, Recruitment and Access, the Student Government Association, the Welcome Center, Workforce Development, and the TMCC Paramedic Program showed up collectively to represent the many diverse voices we share, discuss the academic success we generate, and promote our affordability and accessibility for those who wish to pursue higher education in Northern Nevada.

Once inside, we set up shop quickly. Retractable banners with a range of professions like Diesel Technician, Radiologic Technologist, Welding Fabricator, Registered Nurse, Professional Firefighter, and Paramedic stood tall behind tables with a variety of TMCC goodies and information decorating their surface. Our rallying cry was painted across our shirts, tablecloths, and posters, declaring that “We are community.”

If you were to take a stroll through the passageways of this historic complex, you would find all sorts of treasures scattered about. The Nevada Senate and Assembly Halls of Fame lined most sides of the corridors, showing appreciation for memorable delegates through countless, cheerful portraits from a bygone era. For many of these men and women remained transfixed, their accomplishments being the only means of speaking to us now.

A picture frame hung sturdy with the faces of the 82nd Legislative Session delegates situated inside. 42 Assembly and 21 Senate members comprise the Silver State’s elected officials. If you rounded the corner, you would find a bulletin board posted with documents pertaining to the policy debates on the docket at any time. Housing, criminal justice reform, economic development, health care, energy/environment, and higher education were just several of the issues our representatives address regularly. When you examine it up close, democracy looks alive and well.

As we put names to faces around our booth’s area, students conveyed to senators how grateful they were for TMCC’s distinct program selection, cost convenience, and class flexibility. How achieving their academic dreams suddenly became a reality for them after enrolling with us. When we praised the College, they were intent on listening. We made certain that our reputation as one of Northern Nevada’s finest institutions was engraved into their memory.

“When I found out that UNR didn’t have an EMT program, I was like, ‘Fine by me. I’m going to TMCC!’ I like TMCC a lot because it’s a community. At UNR, it’s more of a solo experience, and you’re on your own. Here, we all succeed together. It’s way better,” said Adriana Valenzuela, a current Paramedic Program student.

Affirming That We All Matter

As we piled into the Senate chamber, not a single seat was empty. TMCC staff and students filled almost the entirety of the balcony, sporting our TMCC threads and paramedic uniforms. You couldn’t miss us. Granted, there was quite a bit of hurry up and wait, with delegates trickling in and out of the room for an hour or so. There was a prestigious vibe that colored the ceiling and floor, mahogany fixtures opposite sapphire rugs. Desks aligned the interior of the place, with computers, microphones, and folders upon them. A large monitor waited patiently above to begin today’s meeting.

After roll call was taken, four of our students sat with their representatives, shining examples of the College’s reason for being here. At this time, the presiding officer asked the floor if they had any guests they would like to introduce. Senator Heidi Gansert from District 15 spoke on our behalf first:

“I have Edgar Rivera and Wendy Solorio with me today. They are both recipients of the Nevada Promise Scholarship. They attended the old Hug High School, and they were the last class to graduate from there.”

She introduced the two students.

“Edgar is a current Nevada Promise Scholar who will receive an Associate of Applied Science in Automation and Robotics. He hopes to get an internship next summer. Wendy is also a Nevada Promise Scholar, and a Summer Bridge participant. She will receive an Associate of Applied Science in Construction and Design this Fall. She chose the field because of her love for building, and the lack of representation in the industry. She hopes other women will pursue construction management roles.”

She then provided a personal note.

“I was letting Wendy know that my degree in engineering was related to being in construction management, but I eventually just worked for power companies. I didn’t do construction management, and there’s a great amount of demand in our state for it. I’m so excited that you’re participating in that, and leaning up on others. I’m wishing you both success,” Gansert said in her final remarks.

A thunderous applause echoed throughout, and the trio sat back down. Senator Lisa Krasner of District 16 would take the microphone next, presenting Jacobs Presidential Scholar recipient Brett Bell, paramedic student and class president, alongside Student Government Association’s George Ritter. This was the opportunity we had been waiting for, to express the College’s value to the politicians present. Thanks to Senators Gansert and Krasner, who graciously helped with the introductions, TMCC had its time in the public eye. We came, we saw, we conquered.

Rounding Out a Fruitful Day

As we reconvened in the lobby once more, pleasant expressions could be found everywhere. We had fulfilled what we set out to do, and now it was time to head home. New relationships were forged, and respect for our government’s system was growing. To witness it in action gives you confidence that it works, and why not make it work for us? Our community deserves it, and with any luck, we'll get to expand the scope of lives we can touch.

TMCC President Karin Hilgersom was delighted with Day at the Legislature’s turnout.

“It was truly amazing to be able to share with our students a moment of pride about TMCC, and all the wonderful work the College does for our community. I was pleased that so many students got the opportunity to visit the capitol, meeting and interacting with our state leaders and lawmakers to showcase our terrific school. I know this takes a lot of effort, thought, and planning, and every element was fantastic. It was an outstanding TMCC Day at the Legislature,” Hilgersom said.

For more information about any of our programs or departments, please visit the Diesel Technician, Radiologic Technologist, Welding Fabricator, Registered Nurse, Professional Firefighter, Paramedic, Marketing and Communications, Recruitment and Access, Student Government Association, and Welcome Center websites.