The first Clayton State Day at the Capitol kicked off Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, bringing more than 100 Lakers, including President Dr. Thomas Hynes and the University’s mascot, Loch, to steps of Georgia’s General Assembly. Students, faculty, administrators, and staff spoke with representatives and Clayton State alumni who also work with state government, toured the Capitol, and witnessed Georgia’s representatives at work in the House and Senate Chambers on the creation of bills made real.
House of Representatives members Brian Strickland, Ronnie Mabra, and Demetrius Douglas gathered with the group first, each sharing their stories of how they become a part of Georgia’s government and what the involvement meant to them. Residents of each district were present in the University’s diverse crowd, several Partnering Academics and Community Engagement (PACE) buttons pinned and echoing the same tune of community service as their representatives.
“We go to school to educate ourselves and better the lives of communities in our state,” Mabra told Clayton State students, having grown up in his district of representation.
Douglas expands on this: “When life makes you successful, help others.” His additional emphasis lay on always finishing what was started. Years after he took a pause in his higher education, he was urged by his grandmother to go back and finish the few courses he had left. For those remaining, he chose Clayton State University.
Students also perked up as Representative Brian Strickland explained his first experience with the House and how he was able to pass a bill on his first term despite the elevated pressures that ensue from being a new member. Students were able to witness a similar event when they visited the House Chambers that day.
“The code of conduct in the Chambers was really interesting and different,” says English major Siera Blasco. “And yet when they spoke to us, about where they came from and what they do, I realized that any one of us could strive to be in that position.”
Clayton State alumni Leo Chancey, a policy analyst for the House of Representatives, and Jeff McCord, who works for Georgia Technology Authority, spoke to the group on the subject of obtaining internships and forming connections for a career.
McCord pointed out how extremely valuable and helpful connections were, and how the one on one connections he had made at Clayton State are what led him to regard the University so highly. Not only connections for networking, but for learning.
Clayton State students were able to make the connection of the department and the process that brings the structure of their society into play. The connection that every dream made real will lead to another, whether this dream is for themselves for another. The funding of Clayton State’s new science building made real the dreams of future science and healthcare graduates, who will then create more dreams and opportunities for others in their communities.
For that, and many others, Lakers echo the sentiment President Hynes extended to Georgia’s General Assembly: “We express our gratitude to this house of its continued investment in the future of Georgia.”