Take This Opportunity
Anyi Rescalvo '22 was selected earlier this year as a Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) student cabinet member representing Hamilton. In that role, she attended CICU’s Student Cabinet and Student Aid Advocacy Days on Feb. 10 and 11. Here is her report on her experience learning about lobbying and applying that knowledge in meetings with elected officials:
Advocacy Day in Albany felt very empowering. There were hundreds of students from different private colleges all fighting for the same thing, more funding for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) and HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) programs that allow us to attend private colleges.
I had never attended Advocacy Day before so I did not know what I was in for, but I am glad to say that it was a wonderful experience. At the training sessions the day before Advocacy Day, I met other student cabinet members and was inspired to hear their stories, hopes, and dreams.
HEOP and TAP have truly helped transform our lives because many of us are first-generation students, children of immigrants, and low-income students. We were nervous about talking to legislators because we had little experience doing so, but what I found most reassuring during our training sessions was that we were told our stories are what mattered most. Legislators know TAP and HEOP help students attend college, but hearing everyone's unique story emphasizes the impact these programs have had on our lives.
I met with Assembly Member Glick, Senator Persaud and her legislative director Mark Phillips, Jr., Senator Stavisky, and Senator May, and a representative from the department of budgeting. The one thing that surprised me was how direct they were about what they thought about the current HEOP and TAP budget. If they did not agree with the governor’s actions towards HEOP and TAP funding, they did not hesitate to say so. I also found it reassuring that after students shared a little bit of their stories, legislators would ask us follow-up questions. I appreciated this because it showed that regardless of their very busy schedules, they wanted to hear what we had to say.
Some of them could even relate to our stories. It was reassuring to hear that they were on our side fighting alongside us for more funding. In the beginning, I was very nervous to be lobbying because I felt that I had to follow an outline of what I had to say, but surprisingly this was not the case.
I was able to talk freely about what TAP and HEOP meant to me and how these programs have contributed greatly to my education here at Hamilton. Lobbying and speaking up for programs that have created opportunities for me is something I want to continue doing because it will not only benefit me, but also generations to come.