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House and Senate were in session Tuesday morning at the Georgia Capitol ready to engage with Clayton State University. Nearly 100 students, faculty and staff visited the statehouse on Jan. 10 for Clayton State Day at the Captiol.
“Clayton State Day at the Capitol is about our core business of learning. Our students have a chance to learn important parts of how the legislative process operates and the role they as students and citizens can play in that operation. Faculty and staff support that learning,” said University President Tim Hynes.
“Moreover, the day gives the university a chance to share a glimpse of the return on the investment made in our institution. Even brief interactions of students with our funding partners—the Governor, the Lt. Governor the House, and the Senate—help those partners learn of our students’ bright futures as contributors to the economy, and active Georgia citizens,” Hynes added.
Clayton State has spearheaded the annual event for the last three years to give students an opportunity to see firsthand how laws are passed and legislative decisions are made that affect the citizens of Georgia.
Students sat in on both the Senate and House chambers to see an actual session unfold. State lawmakers convened the 2017 session on Jan. 9.
Clayton State was recognized by both legislative bodies with a resolution and lawmakers were given a copy of Laker Connection magazine, the University’s biannual publication.
Gov. Nathan Deal also stopped by for a photo with the group and chatted with a few students.
“I got to meet a lot of wonderful people who have already offered me internship opportunities here at the capitol over the summer and during session,” said Dean Brooks, a freshman accounting major and Presidential Scholar.
Representatives from Clayton and other surrounding counties spoke to students about the importance of becoming an engaged and active citizen in the political process.
“Affect the people around you,” said House Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-64).
Several alumni and former students also shared their experiences working at the Capitol and how the education they received at Clayton State prepared them for their careers.
“Look for opportunities,” said Laura Hurd ‘13, administrative assistant in the House Ways and Means committee. “You never know where life’s going to lead you.”
Most speakers said relationships are key to creating a successful career in politics. And it can only be done by networking.
“If you have an interest in politics, volunteer with your local or state party or talk with your representatives,” says Jeremy Betts, director of state affairs for the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants.
Sara Henderson ‘11, a lobbyist with non-partisan government watchdog organization Common Cause Georgia, said she scored an opportunity to work directly with Sen. Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign through a professional relationship she had with a legislator.
Henderson, who taught at Clayton State for six years and received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University, said she often sees very few people who play an active role in their government. She told the students they could change that.
“We need more people who are engaged in the political process,” she said. “Be engaged and actually care about the community you live in.”