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QCC Students Among Hundreds at State House to Urge Increased Investment in Community College System

October, 2019
  • Community College Student Advocacy Day
    From left: QCC students Devon Arthur, Rayanne Silva, Jorgo Gushi, Christina Sanders, QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja, Associate Vice President for External Affairs Viviana Abreu-Hernandez, QCC student Zachary Carlson, and QCC staff members Cheryl Pike and Kelsey Cobb
  • Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago
    Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago

More than 200 Massachusetts community college students, faculty, staff, and presidents gathered at the State House on October 23 for Community College Student Advocacy Day. They met with members of the Legislature and urged them to support the state’s community college system in providing a better funded, more accessible, high-quality education for its students.

The event was hosted by the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges and featured a speaking program that included testimonials of support from community college students, as well as Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education Senator Anne Gobi and Representative Jeffrey Roy. Dr. Gentile served as the MC for the program.

“It’s terrific to see such passionate public advocacy from our community college students, who represent the largest and most diverse sector of our public higher education system,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These are the students – so many of whom are raising children and working multiple jobs while pursuing their degrees - who represent the future citizenry and workforce in our state. I’m delighted so many took time to share their stories with legislators.”

QCC student Jorgo Gushi was on hand at the daylong event with several students from Quinsigamond Community College. Mr. Gushi is president of the College’s Student Government Association and chair of the Student Advisory Council.

Community College Student Advocacy Day was one of the most important and exciting events that ever happened to community college students. It was the first time that all student leaders and administrators of community colleges gathered at the Massachusetts State House to share stories of how our journeys at a community college transform our lives,” Mr. Gushi said. “Quinsigamond Student Government Association had one-to-one meetings with four representatives and one senator to address issues and concerns that students of community colleges face.”

The Massachusetts Community College system serves more than 156,000 students across 15 institutions in all regions of the Commonwealth. The colleges offer wide-ranging programs, workforce training, arts courses, campus athletics, clinics for community members, and much more. A common theme throughout the day was the reality that many community college students face significant non-academic challenges that often get in the way of their educational success such as homelessness, food insecurity, full-time jobs, and the extensive costs of transportation and childcare.

“At QCC we recognize that the challenges our students may face can transcend academics. This is why we have put in place initiatives such as the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center,” said QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja. “Today’s event gives us a further perspective into the lives and subsequent issues our community college students are up against and an opportunity to discuss ways in which we can assist them.”