ATLANTA—Georgia state lawmakers and state staff members delivered some heartfelt advice for Clayton State University students Tuesday, January 12, on how to ensure that one day their dreams are made real.
“When you have a dream, it is your dream. Don’t let anyone take your dream from you. That belongs to you, and it’s free. Now, to get to that dream is not free. But anything that is worthy is worth the work,” says Rep. Darryl Jordan, (D) District 77.
For the second consecutive year, over 200 students, faculty, staff members, and University President Dr. Tim Hynes got a firsthand look at Georgia’s legislative process during the annual Clayton State Day at the Capitol. The event gave students an opportunity to thank their representatives and senators for their support of higher education, and it allowed them a chance to share experiences with those lawmakers.
“I think it’s a good experience. I’ve been at Clayton State for awhile, and I just joined the NAACP, and I thought this would be good to come to the Capitol to see how it all works,” says Health and Fitness major, Laricka Dunbar.
State legislators say they are grateful to be able to meet with the students to express the importance of community involvement.
“We want you involved. We need you involved. We need you to come out to the city council meetings, and we need you to come out to the commission meetings,” says
Rep. Valencia Stovall, (D) District 74.
Echoing those same sentiments, Rep. Demetrius Douglas, (D) District 78 told the packed room that it’s pointless for people to complain if they won’t even go out and vote.
“When they have elections, please come out and vote. Do yourself a service. That’s how I got here today. I saw something going wrong in my community. Will you get in the fight and do the work? A lot of people will complain from the outside but they don’t want to get on the inside. What sense does that make?”
Students also learned from Rep. Brian Strickland, (R) District 111 about why he decided to stand up for south metro Atlanta after becoming frustrated when he felt the area’s needs were being neglected.
“I grew up on the south side of Atlanta, and I got tired of seeing all the money go to the north side of town. The south side kind of got overlooked, and I ran on that platform. I am proud of what we’ve done for Clayton State.”
Also weighing in on the importance of community involvement, Senator Gail Davenport, (D) District 44, told the roomful of students they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders.
“You are here to learn all you can and then go out and help other people in this life.”
Rep. Mike Glanton, (D) District 75 says being the voice of Georgians and changing their lives for the better has been a humbling experience.
“It’s humbling to know you are participating in what will become part of the history of this great state.”
In addition to speaking with legislators, students were able to witness Clayton State be honored by the Senate and the House, tour the Capitol, and take a group photo on the Capitol stairs. They also heard from Clayton State alum who now work under Georgia’s golden dome.
“One of the things I learned at Clayton State and from working at the Capitol is that it’s a lot about networking. Sometimes people focus just on your GPA—which is important, but it’s also important to get to know people and use your opportunities”, says 2006 alum Laura Hurd of the Ways and Means Committee.
Class of 2011 alum Michelle Sloan now works for the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and she says receiving a “no” shouldn’t be a reason to give up on a dream.
“I’ve learned along the way that no matter the situation, we can achieve our goals if we stick to it. I’ve gotten a lot of no’s, but no means you have work that much harder.”
In full agreement with that mindset, 2010 alum Leo Chancy of the House Budget and Research Office says patience truly is a virtue.
“Sometimes you have to be a little patient to get what you want. It can get frustrating, but remember to hold on.”
When all is said and done, one Clayton State alum says the ultimate goal should be the pursuit of happiness.
“Have fun. Have a good time. I know we have to make money, but I think after we pursue what we love to do, then the other things will fall into place and you will find out what you’ve been put on this earth to accomplish,” says class of 1982 graduate Charley English of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
Alum Bobbie Davis of the State Accounting Office added, “Whatever your major is, stay with it. Don’t let anyone deter you from your dreams.”