Meghan Carpenter ’14, American studies and political science, is director of community and governmental affairs for UMBC’s Student Government Association.
The University System of Maryland places a really strong emphasis on student leadership. There are several ways that students make a genuine difference in campus culture. In addition to campus student governments, we have a University System of Maryland Student Council (chaired by Zach Cohen from College Park) with representatives from each of the campuses. I am one of UMBC’s representatives, along with graduate student Jesse Fox. UMBC undergraduate Caitlyn Leiter- Mason is the council’s Director of Government Affairs. We also are represented on the Board of Regents by Steven Hershkowitz, who is a graduate student at College Park.
Over the summer Zach, Steven, and Caitlyn requested a meeting with Governor O’Malley in order to thank him for supporting higher education and keeping tuition affordable for students. Remarkably, the Governor took time out of his busy schedule to meet with the USM Student Council Leadership and SGA Presidents from across the state. I was tremendously honored to be invited. After we presented Governor O’Malley with a resolution of thanks passed by the council, he took questions and heard stories from both students in the room and others from across the state connected via Google Hangout.
There’s something remarkably empowering when a person of great stature acknowledges that you can actually make a difference in the lives of a community. Governor O’Malley is really excited about the direction of the state and noted that higher education had a lot to do with our favorable prospects. No one knows the plight of students better than students themselves, and it says a lot about the Governor’s intentions that he takes our opinions into consideration. The Governor is responsible for proposing a budget for the whole state, including college tuition. I feel confident that the concerns we raised in the meeting will be reflected in the budget proposal we will see in the spring.
My favorite part of the whole event though is summed up a photograph. That’s me on the right, and Caitlyn on the left. How many times in your life are you going to be able to take a picture with the Governor and your best friend? If you look closely, you’ll see former Governor Ehrlich in a framed photo behind us. In one snapshot, you can see the past, the present, and who knows? After all, students are the future.
Contact the author, Meghan Carpenter, at email@example.com.