Student leaders from the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) put their leadership and networking skills to work last week as they engaged in panels around legislative policy, criminal justice, STEM education and hip-hop at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C. Sept. 16-20.
During their stay in the nation’s capitol, students observed Congress and the Senate, toured Capitol Hill, and even took “selfies” with Vice President Joe Biden!
Students were able to learn first-hand how a bill is prepared as debates have continued around the Planned Parenthood bill.
Coordinated by Linda Handy, member of the PCCD Board of Trustees, she first started raising funds to bring students to the CBC annual conference nearly 14 years ago. This year, the PCCD, school presidents and respective Associated Student Bodies sponsored two students from each Peralta college.
It is important for the students to see that they are leaders, that they are relevant, said Handy.
Students that attended were: Vivian Allen, President of the Black Student Union, Berkeley City College; Patricia Warfield, Professional Alumni Student Success Leader, Laney College; Denis Salazar, President of Associated Students of College of Alameda; Ajari McCaster, Senator of Associated Students of Merritt College; Marquita Price, President of Associated Students of Merritt College; Adrien Abuyen, Student Trustee; Brianna Rogers, President of Associated Students, Berkeley City College; and Jon-Mychal Cox, President of Associated Students of Laney College.
They also attended the CBCF Annual Prayer Breakfast as well as Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s constituent breakfast along with Handy, Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, Dean of Student Success and Equity Lasana Hotep and PCCD Board of Trustees President Meredith Brown.
“We have work to do because our students have to see themselves in these (leadership) roles. It’s our job to make sure that happens,” said Handy.
“If we don’t acknowledge their hard work, they may not really see how dynamic they are. We need leadership and to train leaders to step into our shoes,” she added.
Students have already started applying what they learned at the conference to their own student government needs in the district.
Handy said, “They had discussions about how they can strengthen student bodies at their own colleges and rebuild student government to where it should be, together as a family.”
In addressing the reality that students can sometimes disappear on campus, the district is trying to engage students and help them engage each other, and to ensure that they recognize their greatness.