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PCC Day at the Capitol gives students, staff a voice
Photos and Story by James Hill
Not even Portland’s worst snow storm in five years could stop Portland Community College from having its day in the Salem sun.
The original PCC Day at the Capitol on Feb. 7 may have been cancelled due to snow, but the re-scheduled event on Tuesday, Feb. 25 had plenty of sun and positive vibes. About 50 PCC staff, faculty, students and community friends descended on the Capitol Building to talk one-on-one with state leaders and lend a voice to the importance of funding higher education.
Visit our gallery of photos from the 2014 Day at the Capitol.
“It’s always great to hear from our students who can speak from the heart about how we have changed their lives or the impact that PCC has had because of the opportunities we provide,” said PCC President Jeremy Brown. “We are a very strong and vibrant community. It’s really symbolic of the energy of PCC. Collectively, you have a voice and it’s an important one to be heard; it has an impact.”
Rob Wagner, PCC’s government relations manager, guided the teams of students and staff through the state Capitol Building to meet up with their own representatives and senators. Even though the budget for the state’s community colleges isn’t being decided during this shortened session, there were still plenty of issues to chat about. This included telling the leaders how PCC is on the frontlines of putting people back to work; how it provides critical pathways to education; and that it helps the state to reach its “40-40-20” goal. Plus, it was a chance for college officials to impress upon the legislators how important House Bill 4116 is for low-income, first-generation college students.
“PCC is an amazing place,” Wagner said. “In the last two years alone, we’ve had over 138,000 students that have attended PCC from Oregon. Forty nine out of 50 states in our nation and over a dozen countries are represented with our students. We are the largest post-secondary educational institution in our state with the very complex mission of job training, skill development and educational preparation in a variety of fields. We are place to start, but we are also a place to thrive.”
The day began with a luncheon at the Salem Convention Center where speakers Jeremy Brown (PCC president) and Joe Gallegos (House Representative for District 30 and a 2013 PCC Diamond Alum) talked about how PCC gives people the chance to earn a college education, get good jobs and achieve their dreams.
Rep. Gallegos talked about how he embodied everything that PCC was about – giving people chances. After completing his lower division studies at PCC, he transferred to Portland State University, earning bachelor and master’s degrees in psychology and social work while working as a janitor. He’d later earn a doctorate from the University of Denver in social welfare. This educational path that started at PCC eventually led to a 25-year career as a faculty member at the University of Portland where Rep. Gallegos trained and mentored future social workers.
“All of those things were made possible by the transitioning that happened at Portland Community College,” said Rep. Gallegos. “I’m very proud to be a Diamond Alum of Portland Community College. It really is a gateway to a future.”